April 28, 2022

Reps. Lee, Hoyer Host Poverty Task Force Meeting to Discuss the Role of Universal Pre-K in Reducing Child Poverty

WASHINGTON, D.C.?– Today, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) and Majority Leader Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) hosted a Poverty Task Force meeting with experts from the Brookings Institution on the role of universal pre-K and other early interventions in reducing long-term child poverty.

Joined by other Democratic Members of the Poverty Task Force, they heard from Dr. Isabel Sawhill, Senior Fellow, Center on Children and Families; Kristen Moore, Senior Scholar, Child Trends; and Dr. Morgan Welch, Senior Research Assistant and Project Coordinator, Center on Children and Families. The guest speakers reviewed the House proposal to provide universal pre-K, presented new data on children’s readiness for school at age five, and summarized what is known about the effects of pre-K on later life outcomes based on both existing research and a new model they and their partners at the Urban Institute and Child Trends have developed for this purpose. 

“We know that the first five years of a child’s social and cognitive development is critical,” said Task Force Chairwoman Rep. Lee. “Some studies have shown these early years can have long-term impacts over the course of their lives, influencing factors from criminal activity to drug use to mental health. High quality preschool and early interventions in child poverty would have a transformative impact on low-income families. It’s far past time this country provides high-quality, free, and inclusive preschool programs to all children. I thank my colleagues and our guests today for an insightful discussion on the implementation and outcomes of universal pre-K. It is imperative that we build policies that are reflective of the needs of each of our communities and that effectively contribute to lifting families out of poverty.” 

“Early childhood education is critical to closing the achievement gap and preparing the youngest Americans for success in school, higher education, and their future careers,” Leader Hoyer said.  “I want to thank Dr. Sawhill, Ms. Moore, and Dr. Welch for speaking to Members today and sharing their findings and insights into the effectiveness of access to affordable pre-kindergarten programs on children’s wellbeing, school readiness, and academic outcomes. As a proud supporter of universal pre-K, I have long advocated for early childhood education including my work to support and expand Judith P. Hoyer Center Early Learning Hubs or ‘Judy Centers’ in Maryland that provide comprehensive education and support services for children ages five and under, their families, and their communities. I was glad to join today’s conversation as House Democrats continue to be deeply engaged in the work to alleviate poverty and generate opportunities For the People.”

About the Poverty Task Force

The Majority Leader Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity was first launched in 2013 to raise awareness among Members of Congress and the public about issues concerning poverty, the importance of poverty-alleviation initiatives, and the need to eradicate poverty in our communities.  Regularly consulting with experts and other stakeholders, it focuses on developing support for strategies to reduce and eradicate poverty while opposing cuts to anti-poverty programs. 


Congresswoman Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. As a member of the House Democratic Leadership, she is the highest ranking Black woman in the U.S. Congress.