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April 17, 1997

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White House at Work

Early Childhood Development

Today at the White House, the President and First Lady host The White House Conference on Early Childhood Development and Learning: What New Research on the Brain Tells Us About Our Youngest Children.

The President said in his State of the Union address, "learning begins in the first days of life...scientists are now discovering how young children develop emotionally and intellectually from their very first days, and how important it is for parents to begin immediately talking, singing, even reading to their infants."

Today's Conference brings together esteemed scientists, doctors, sociologists, parents and other experts to examine how we can use this new research in practical ways -- to be better parents and care-givers, and to raise stronger families.

Participants at the White House will be joined by satellite by thousands of people at nearly 100 sites around the country.

This morning, the President announces new actions to improve the early development of America's children:

    The President asks the Defense Department -- which runs a model child care program -- to partner with civilian child care centers, helping them improve quality and become accredited, sharing information on how to operate successfully, and working with state and local government training programs to help people moving off welfare to become child care workers.

    The President announces an upcoming White House Conference on Child Care.

    The President expands Early Head Start enrollment by one-third for next year; and to help parents and care givers teach the very young, a new "Ready, Set, Read" Early Childhood Development Activity Kit will go out to early childhood programs across the country as part of the President's America Reads challenge.

    The President announces Safe Start, a new Child Victims of Violence Initiative, to train police, prosecutors, probation and parole officers and mental health professionals in child development, so they are better able to help young children who are victims of violence.

    The President calls for his Children's Health Initiative, to extend health care to as many as 5 million uninsured children by 2000.

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