This afternoon, First Five Years Fund, in conjunction with the bipartisan Congressional Pre-K Caucus hosted a briefing on federal funding for early learning and care programs, including: the Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG), Head Start & Early Head Start, Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships, and Preschool Development Grants Birth through Five (PDG B-5).
Every year millions of children from low-income families, who range in age from birth through five, benefit from this array of federal early learning and care programs. While programs may occur in different settings and have different requirements, together they form an effective mixed-delivery system that supports the care, education, and healthy development of children living in poverty, prioritizing parental choice and children’s individual needs.
Right now, Congress is negotiating government spending bills for the next fiscal year to determine discretionary funding levels for all federal programs – including early childhood programs. Today’s bipartisan briefing was an opportunity for members of Congress and their staff to learn about the importance of quality early learning, and the need to provide robust funding increases for these programs.
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At the briefing, FFYF executive director Sarah Rittling moderated a discussion with a panel of experts and leaders in the early learning field. Each provided context about how the various programs support children, families and communities, along with the success and challenges they’re seeing across the country.
- Rhian Evans Allvin, Chief Executive Officer, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
- Tommy Sheridan, Deputy Director, National Head Start Association
- Kristin Bernhard, Senior Vice President, Advocacy and Policy, The Ounce of Prevention
Thanks to bipartisan efforts in Congress, the federal early learning and care programs have received important funding increases in recent years. In December of 2019, Congress approved FY2020 government spending bills that included 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. Read more about the current funding levels online here.
However, even at current funding levels, only a fraction of eligible children have access to these crucial early learning and care programs that are proven to prepare them for school and a lifetime of success. FFYF is committed to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to continue advancing support and investments for early learning and care so that all children – particularly those living in poverty – can participate in these life changing programs.
Check out FFYF’s Twitter thread with quotes and highlights from today’s briefing: