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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 26, 1997

February 24, 1997


  SUBJECT:       Federal Policies Targeted to Children in Their
                 Earliest Years

Over the past few years, scientific research has demonstrated that the earliest years of life -- before children reach school-age -- are critical to cognitive, emotional, and physical development. We know that emotional nourishment, intellectual stimulation, parental and community support, good nutrition, proper health care, quality child care, and safe housing during the first years of life form the foundation for a child's ability to learn, thrive in school, work productively, and contribute fully to society.

Across the Federal Government, we are making great strides to enhance development during the earliest years of life by investing in research, educating parents and caregivers, and supporting programs that provide early intervention to disadvantaged families. I am committed to accelerating our efforts to target the earliest years of life. We all have a stake in ensuring that every child is given the opportunity to fulfill his or her God-given potential.

Today, I am directing the heads of executive departments and agencies to report to me within 30 days with:

  1. a comprehensive list and assessment of existing projects and programs funded by your agency that target the earliest years of life -- including any existing qualitative or quantitative evidence of success, as well as current funding levels and number of clients served -- and a description of any proposed improvements to such projects and programs.
  2. a comprehensive list and assessment of any planned projects and programs of your agency that target the earliest years of life, including projected funding levels and number of clients to be served; and
  3. specific proposals for additional projects and programs this year that could be undertaken to improve the earliest years of life that do not require new spending or that fall within the proposals in the FY 1998 Budget, or that could be developed for consideration in the FY 1999 Budget, within the limits of my Balanced Budget Plan.

I am also directing the establishment of a senior level interagency working group to share, examine, and develop these assessments and proposals.


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