WASHINGTON, D.C. – Late last night, the Senate approved an omnibus spending package that included bipartisan funding increases for some of the nation’s vital early learning and care programs. The package was approved by a bipartisan vote of 68-31 after House passage on Wednesday, and now heads to President Biden’s desk for signature.
“For years, strong, bipartisan support has allowed Congress to strengthen and expand the critical early childhood programs that millions of families rely on,” said First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “Every child deserves a strong start in life, and all parents want the very best opportunities for their children — particularly in the earliest years. The federal early learning and care programs are proven to set kids up for success in school and life, while allowing working parents to support their family’s economic security. The funding increases in this omnibus spending package will allow these programs to continue operating through the remainder of the fiscal year. Now, as we turn our attention to FY2023, we look forward to working closely with Congressional leaders to secure the robust funding increases needed to reach all eligible families.”
The bipartisan omnibus bill includes increased funding levels for existing federal early learning and care programs: including Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Early Head Start & Head Start, as well as the Preschool Development Grants program, setting funding for these programs at $6.165 billion, $11.037 Billion and $290 million respectively. See the FY2022 funding levels from the president’s budget request, the House bill, and the Senate bill on our website here. Learn more about these essential early learning and care programs here.
In total, the FY2022 early learning and care funding levels include:
- Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program: $6.165 billion
- A $254 million increase over FY2021
- Head Start and Early Head Start: $11.037 Billion
- A $289 million increase over FY2021, of which $234 million is for a cost of living adjustment
- Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5) program: $290 million
- A $15 million increase over FY2021
- IDEA Part B Preschool Grants: $409.5 million
- An $11.9 million increase over FY2021
- IDEA Part C Grants for Infants and Toddlers: $496.3 million
- A $14.5 million increase over FY2021
Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have long been in agreement that early childhood education is critical to achieving the outcomes children need to be successful in school and life. Over the years, federal early learning programs have seen steady, significant progress through increased, bipartisan investments from both Congress and the White House. FFYF has a long history of national advocacy for early learning, and in spring of 2021, joined our partners in calling for significantly more discretionary funding for these programs. Without sustained increases, these programs will only reach a fraction of children and families eligible to participate, which is generally based on income. Meanwhile, families at every income level struggle to access high-quality care options that meet their needs, whether due to high cost or limited supply.
In addition to the ongoing need for continued discretionary funding increases for the existing federal early learning and care programs that families and children rely on, Congress has an opportunity to build a strong, stable early learning system by passing significant, sustained reforms and investments in child care and pre-K through the reconciliation package currently under consideration on Capitol Hill.