Matthew Melmed, Executive Director of ZERO TO THREE and one of the speakers on the #Rally4Babies on July 8, 2013, wrote on July 10th for the Baby Policy Blog that “this week has started strong for our country’s babies” and that “with Monday’s first-ever Virtual #Rally4Babies, our youngest children finally took center stage.” He tells us the following in his post:
—-24 national and 1 international early childhood organizations came together to cosponsor the virtual event and send a unified message about the need to support our babies’ development.
—-Many different types of speakers took time from important tasks (like running the country’s programs for children and families) to talk about the importance of early investment in babies and in the future of our country, and the efficacy of many programs that serve disadvantaged young children. I was honored to be among them.
—-During the event, we lit up Twitter all over the country and even as far away as Japan.
—-More than 180,000 individual messages have been sent to the President and Members of Congress about the need to invest in early learning for babies.
—-Actor Jennifer Garner gets it that the Baby Rally is not a one-time hangout, but all of us. And it’s up to us to keep it going.
—-Tuesday’s Senate Appropriations action reinforced that our advocacy makes a difference—and good things for children can be within our grasp. The Subcommittee that sets funding for the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education—whose Secretaries hung out with us Monday—approved a bill that, we understand, would provide $1.4 billion for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships and $750 million for preschool development grants, setting in motion achieving key parts of the President’s plan.
Melmed encourages us all to “RALLY ON!” He tells us to keep watching the rally video and to encourage others to watch it as well. He advises us to “keep talking to your Members of Congress” and “letting the Administration know how important those first few years of learning are.” However, in my opinion, his best piece of advice echoes what I said in my blog post on July 9 titled “Early Learning: Made in the U.S.A. Grassroots-Style.” Melmed tells us to “keep that sense of community that makes the #Rally4Babies a movement, not just an event.”
Getting all children ready for school in the first 3 years of life will pay off for all of us as citizens of the United States and the world. Educators can do what they are trained to do and do so well, which is teach and impart knowledge, instead of spending time catching kids up in terms of language, emotional, social and sensory development or feeling constantly frustrated about not being able to teach so many children who didn’t get what they needed from the start. Parents can enjoy their children more, feel appreciative and proud of them, and take comfort in knowing that their child will be successful in school and life. They can feel less stressed and overwhelmed. Community members, including business leaders, religious leaders, law enforcement and local courts, school boards, and local government officials, can also feel proud, less stressed and overwhelmed. The Administration and Members of Congress can see the outcome of their funding decisions and policies as crime rates drop, prisons become less full, and far fewer dollars have to be allocated to Title 1, special education, high school drop-out retention programs, government-sponsored social programs, and much more. And we, as a nation like no other nation on Earth, can prosper, innovate, problem solve, build connections with other nations around the globe, and know full well that our nation really is about liberty and justice for all.