Thank you, Chanel. You are doing such amazing things for this community. And I know your daughter must be very proud.
Secretary Cardona – Miguel, we do a lot of these events together. But it’s always incredible to see your commitment to our nation’s students – from our youngest to our oldest.
Congressman Ryan, this community is better for your leadership.
Gerri, Dr. Jordan, Superintendent Rosser, and all the Day One leaders, I’m so grateful for all the heart and hard work you’ve put into helping this community’s children – and adults – thrive.
Mayor Nelson, Executive O’Neil, and all the state and local leaders joining us, thank you for helping make programs like this a reality.
When children are born, we look into their eyes and see every possibility, don’t we? Infinite dreams. Limitless bounds. Endless horizons.
As a grandmother and a mother, I know that feeling well. You feel like they can do anything – because they can.
Children are the smartest investment we can make in our nation’s future – when they grow up, they will be the ones to cure cancer, to solve the climate crisis, to launch the next revolutionary company, to keep us out of future wars.
And we know that the most important time in a child’s development is within the first few years of their life.
But despite all that we know, education and care during those earliest years remains out of reach for too many.
As some of you may know, I teach writing at a community college outside of Washington, D.C. And one day, I had a student come in with her 4-year-old.
The moment I locked eyes with that student, I could see her distress, and I knew exactly what happened: Her child care had fallen through, but she couldn’t afford to miss the class. She set up her son with a box of crayons and some paper in the corner of the room, and I tried to give her a smile when I saw her looking at him nervously – praying he’d make it through the class.
That same scene plays out every day across the country. Maybe some of you have seen it. Maybe some of you have been that parent. Maybe your work or school didn’t let you bring your child in at all and you had to lose pay or miss class.
For the last few years, in every city I visit and at nearly every event – whether we were there to talk about military spouses, or cancer programs, or community colleges – people have told me that one of their biggest challenges is child care.
I know you’ve seen that challenge here in Poughkeepsie too, but you met the moment.
So, you came together in classrooms, in boardrooms, and in churches like this one to write a different story – one where we invest in our children’s education long before primary school begins, one where families have access to high-quality care without breaking the bank, one where child care workers are paid a living wage and parents are empowered to pursue their careers. And our economy grows in the process.
Now, I know all of you know Gerri. We just heard how passionately she talks about this. And all of you know that when she believes in something, nothing is going to stand in her way. So, when she came to me earlier this year and told me about this amazing effort, I knew I had to come see it.
Gerri, I’m grateful for everything you’re doing here. What I just saw at Day One is incredible and innovative.
You’re changing the lives of this community’s youngest members, and of the adults who love and teach them.
My husband, President Biden, has made child care a top priority. That’s why he made sure federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan could be used by states like New York to establish new child care programs, to raise wages for their workers, and support universal pre-K.
And he’s called on Congress to make long-term investments to lower the costs further for families.
Because there’s a ripple effect when a mom is able to pursue a career she loves because she doesn’t have to worry where her child will go. When parents don’t have to choose between paying grocery bills and paying the child care provider.
When our children are set on a lifelong path of learning, so they can succeed in school and in their careers.
So thank you for making that possible in this community. And know that you will always have a committed partner in Joe and his Administration.
Together, we will unlock those infinite possibilities that exist in every child, and give their parents and their educators the chance to keep reaching for a brighter future for us all.