Across the political spectrum, voters and policymakers recognize the importance of investing in policy solutions that support healthy development in children, beginning at birth, while allowing working parents to pursue greater economic security. Now, with a new Congress and new administration underway, we must harness the overwhelming momentum and enact policies to build up a system of care that makes high-quality early learning available and affordable to all families who need it. Evidence shows that this is one of the greatest, most widely supported investments we could make to help multiple generations of Americans, particularly those most marginalized, both recover from current crises and be successful into the future.
FFYF has developed this Blueprint for Progress with resources and information showcasing the policy opportunities for lawmakers to support the care and education of children from birth through age five.
2021 POLICY POLL
FFYF’s recent 2021 Policy Poll shows overwhelming bipartisan support among voters for a wide range of federal early learning and care policy proposals that have the backing of many Democratic and Republican policymakers in Washington. As lawmakers consider how best to stimulate and strengthen the economy, there is immense support from voters for early learning and care proposals that fit squarely into the myriad of legislative vehicles Congress might pursue, from infrastructure, to tax reform, to budget reconciliation. What’s more, there is virtually no political downside to supporting these policies, even for lawmakers facing tough electoral challenges from the left, right, or center. Learn more about FFYF’s latest polling of national and swing state voters here.
SMART POLICY AND SMART POLITICS
Political veterans from either side of the aisle offer their unique perspective on how the Biden administration and Democratic & Republican leaders on Capitol Hill can unite behind an issue that makes for smart policy and smart politics. Taking bipartisan action to ensure more families can access affordable, quality child care and early learning is a no brainer. Read the new memo from Stacy Kerr and Michael Steel on what the results of the 2020 elections mean for child care and early learning.
BIPARTISAN PROGRESS DURING THE 116TH CONGRESS
Early learning and care programs have long received support from Republicans and Democrats, and in recent years, we have seen historic funding increases for critical federal programs that ensure families can access high-quality, affordable early learning opportunities for their young children. Even under divided control of government, the early learning and care programs have proven to be a unique issue that brings together lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and received overwhelming support from voters of all backgrounds. Read FFYF’s overview of the bipartisan progress that has been made in Washington on behalf of youngest learners here.
THE FOUNDATIONS OF EARLY LEARNING AND CARE
There is a clear link between our nation’s economic wellbeing and access to high-quality, affordable child care, making federal investments in our child care system and early learning programs critical. The federal government provides the foundation for state and local early childhood programs, allocating nearly $22.5 billion in federal funds to programs that support the care and education of children from birth through age five. Federal funds don’t just finance direct early learning services for children and families; they also fund infrastructure that supports quality and delivery of local, state, and privately funded early childhood programs. This infrastructure provides a flexible platform to sustain and foster state early care and education systems in the face of public health and economic challenges.
REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS PRIORITIZE CHILD CARE IN PANDEMIC RELIEF EFFORTS
Recognizing the essential role of child care for children, working families, and the economy, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have sought to prioritize funding and other relief for child care providers as part of ongoing COVID-19 recovery efforts. In fact, every pandemic relief proposal thus far has included dedicated funding for child care. View FFYF’s overview of the provisions included in each COVID-19 recovery proposal aimed at supporting child care providers, along with Congressional letters and resolutions calling for significant child care relief funding here.
UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF APPROPRIATIONS AND STABILIZATION FUNDING
Congress has taken important steps to provide relief for child care providers through the pandemic on top of ongoing funding for federal early learning and care programs through annual appropriations. Still, as the country moves toward economic recovery, learn why both targeted stabilization dollars and increased annual appropriations funding will be vital to the sustainability of our nation’s child care system and ensuring families have the care they need to go to work by reading more here.
IMPORTANCE OF QUALITY
Quality early learning and care is vital for children, particularly those from low-income families, to achieve success in school and throughout their lives. Unfortunately, in the United States, less than half of the children living in poverty have access to the high-quality early childhood programs that could dramatically improve their lives. Learn why the quality of early learning and care is the most important factor to consider when expanding access for families here.
BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION IN BIDEN CAMPAIGN PROPOSAL
FFYF’s analysis of then-candidate Joe Biden’s child care and early learning proposal found significant overlap between the President-elect’s policy priorities and legislation championed by lawmakers on Capitol Hill. In fact, several elements of the plan aimed at ensuring children from birth through age five have access to high-quality care and education opportunities have received broad support among Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Read our analysis of the incoming Administration’s proposal and how it aligns with the work of the 116th Congress here.