All kids deserve a strong start to life.
By age 5, a child’s brain is already 90 percent developed, yet two out of five American children are not enrolled in preschool by this time.
Investments in high-quality early learning programs lay the foundation for success in school, career and life. It’s unacceptable that so many children don’t have access to the early education programs they need to thrive in the hopes of a successful future.
Congress is starting its work on the federal budget for 2017. As members debate which programs to fund and which ones to cut, we need to raise our voices on behalf of our children.
Here in the United States, early education programs like Head Start help more than 1 million children start kindergarten ready to succeed. Programs like that are too crucial to risk funding cuts prompted by the government.
In fact, lawmakers should invest more funding in Head Start and other essential early learning programs, such as Early Head Start, Child Care Development Block Grants and Preschool Development Grants.
The type of environment and the quality of interaction children are exposed to during the first five years of life significantly influence the outcomes of their adult lives. That’s why I urge Senators Durbin and Kirk to prioritize our kids and invest in these crucial early learning programs for our children.
According to an article published on the Chicago Tribune’s website Jan. 22, Illinois has lost 14,000 manufacturing jobs over the years and 6,900 jobs in trade, transportation and utilities. The article also stated that the overall number of unemployed individuals increased 4.9 percent in December 2015 to 390,000. The numbers don’t lie: Illinois needs to look at innovative and effective industry alternatives that will put our citizens back to work.
I live near and work in Alton, an area that was once a booming center of industry. Today, there are fewer and fewer area jobs that ensure Illinois families can live comfortable lives and save for the future. One of the lingering industries is burning coal for energy, which pollutes our air, land and water. In addition to negatively impacting the health of individuals and families, burning coal is increasingly uneconomical. This makes it more important than ever for us to come together to build policies that will help our communities shift toward a clean energy economy. That’s why I support the Clean Power Plan, which aims to curb harmful pollution from power plants while growing renewable energy and efficiency for consumers.
Next week I will travel to Washington, D.C., along with other Sierra Club volunteers from across Illinois, to urge Senator Kirk and other Illinois representatives to support policies that protect people, not polluters. In the meantime, I would like to encourage you to contact your representatives as well. Please tell them that you would like them to vote in favor of policies that will ensure the success of the growing clean energy economy and improve the health of Illinois citizens. Our collective voice can and will make a difference.