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Congress Passes FY2020 Funding Bill with More Than $1 Billion Increase for Early Learning and Child Care

News December 16, 2019

On December 19th, Congress passed the FY2020 government spending bills to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year. Included in the legislation is over $1 billion in increased funding for federal early learning and care programs, including a $550 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program and a $550 million increase for Head Start & Early Head Start. These investments build upon historic funding increases to CCDBG in FY2018 ($2.37 billion over FY2017 levels) as part of a bipartisan budget deal negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Both the House and Senate FY2020 appropriations bills included funding increases for these crucial programs, creating an opportunity for negotiators to reach these robust levels. The House and Senate must both vote to approve the spending deal, which will be split into two bills, by Friday, in order to avoid another government shutdown. Today’s bipartisan achievement compliments other recent advancements on Capitol Hill for the federal programs that support the care and education of children from birth through age five. 

“These crucial investments in our nation’s federal early learning programs represent a major bipartisan victory for children living in poverty and their families,” said First Five Years Fund (FFYF) Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “For the last decade, bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill have resulted in major achievements for America’s youngest learners, both through historic funding increases and policy improvements. Federal early childhood education programs allow states and communities to provide low-income children with high-quality learning and development opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach, and we are grateful for the bipartisan leaders on Capitol Hill who continue to prioritize these investments.”

Take a look at the final FY2020 funding numbers as approved today:

  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)
    • $5.826 billion — $550 million above FY2019
  • Early Head Start / Head Start
    • $10.613 billion — $550 million above FY2019, of which an additional $100 million is to be used for expansion of Early Head Start or Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships
  • Preschool Development Grants
    • $275 million — $25 million above FY2019
  • IDEA Part B Preschool Grants
    • $394.12 million — $3 million above FY2019
  • IDEA Part C Grants for Infants and Families
    • $477 million — $7 million above FY2019
  • IDEA Grants to States
    • $12.764 billion — $400 million above FY2019

Support for early childhood education remains overwhelmingly bipartisan, both among voters and lawmakers. FFYF has compiled the various “Dear Colleague” letters from earlier this year related to funding for early childhood education for FY2020 appropriations. This year there were 5 letters that garnered 269 signatures from Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate calling for robust funding for specific programs. 

Earlier this year at a roundtable event with HHS Sec. Alex Azar and White House advisor Ivanka Trump — part of a nationwide child care listening tour — Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO) discussed the need for continued bipartisan support for CCDBG. “Access to affordable, high-quality child care is critical for working families, so parents can go to work knowing their child is safe & receiving developmentally appropriate care & early learning opportunities. But for many families, this is a serious challenge. As chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that funds @HHSgov, I’ve been proud to support significant increases for the Child Care & Development Block Grant,” Sen. Blunt later tweeted.

“Every child deserves the opportunity to learn and grow in a supportive environment,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey after introducing the House’s appropriations bill earlier this year. “Access to affordable, high-quality child care not only helps the families of little ones who are struggling to make ends meet by providing a safe place for children during the day, it is also one of the smartest investments we can make. That’s because children who have high-quality child care and are enrolled in early childhood services such as preschool and Head Start are better prepared for school and have improved outcomes as adults, including higher graduation rates and earnings.”

Last week at the White House Summit on Child Care and Paid Leave, governors and lawmakers from across the country spoke about the importance of quality child care and early learning, and the need for a strong partnership between states, communities and the federal government. 

FFYF’s latest national poll shows a strong majority of Americans on both sides of the aisle support increased funding for programs like Head Start and CCDBG. 

The First Five Years Fund is the leading bipartisan federal advocacy organization working to ensure all children from birth through age five have equal access to affordable, comprehensive, high-quality care and education to support their healthy development and help them achieve their full potential in school and life. FFYF seeks to expand federal support for all early learning and care opportunities that are high-quality and focused first on serving those children most-at-risk.


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