By: Maya Fanjul-Debnam

In this current political climate, tensions are running high between parties, and it appears as if there’s nothing we can agree on. Nothing that is, except early care and education.

A recent national poll conducted by the First Five Years Fund found that 90 percent of voters agree that Congress and the next president should work to make quality early education accessible to low and middle-income families. As highlighted in the First Five Years Fund study:

“There is overwhelming support—with little opposition—for a federal plan that helps states and local communities provide better access to quality early childhood education. Nearly three quarters of the electorate support this plan: 73% favor and only 24% oppose. 54% of Republicans, 70% of Independents, 91% of Democrats voice support. A majority of key swing voter groups also favor investing more in early childhood education from birth to age five.”

This is great news for the 300,000 Minnesotan children who need child care and early education. A study conducted by Child Care Aware shows only 265,553 slots in child care programs for the entire state, leaving tens of thousands of children without access to quality care. Additionally, Minnesota has a large amount of families with two working parents or caregivers, making child care essential for the entire family.

Increasing access to early educational programs is one of the easiest ways to level the playing field for children of varying socioeconomic statuses, a crucial component to Minnesota’s large achievement gaps. Learning begins at birth, and children need to be in environments that foster their learning.

Voters acknowledge this fact. It’s time for elected officials to as well.