Cradle to Kindergarten - A New Plan to Combat Inequality
The U.S. has a fragmented and inadequate set of services for early care and education, and most children do not receive high-quality early learning opportunities. Good quality childcare and preschool are scarce and prohibitively expensive for many middle class and most disadvantaged families, so primarily more affluent families receive their benefits. Rather than offering piecemeal policy solutions, the cradle to kindergarten strategy would consist of paid parental leave, a guarantee of childcare assistance for working parents, universal early education starting at age 3, and a reimagined Head Start focused on health and education interventions for children under age 3 in areas of concentrated poverty.
Ajay Chaudry is a research scholar at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the administration of President Barack Obama, and as the Deputy Commissioner for Early Childhood Development at the NYC Administration for Children's Services (2004-06). He has also been a senior fellow and director of the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population at the Urban Institute. He is the author of "Putting Children First: How low-wage working mothers manage child care" and co-author of "Cradle to Kindergarten: A new plan to combat inequality." He received his A.B. from Columbia University, and M.P.P. and Ph.D. from Harvard.