WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the 116th Congress now in session, the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) has released its federal legislative agenda outlining priorities and opportunities for lawmakers to advance high-quality early childhood education. The resource builds on the historic progress made during the 115th Congress for early learning and care, and reflects American voters’ priorities, as detailed in the results of a new national poll released by FFYF last week. To accompany the legislative agenda, FFYF has released a new web video for members of the 116th Congress, Welcome to Washington, as well as a toolkit that lawmakers can use to showcase their support for early learning among their constituents and colleagues. These and other resources are now available online at FFYF.org/116thCongress.
“Every member of the 116th Congress can be a champion of early childhood education,” said Sarah Rittling, Executive Director of FFYF. “Few policy issues offer lawmakers such a strong, bipartisan political opportunity that also stands to generate immediate and long-term benefits for the communities they represent. Solutions and investments, both big and small, that are born out of a robust exchange of ideas will make a real difference in the lives of young children and their families. Now is the time for Congress to harness the overwhelming bipartisan support for early childhood education and work across the aisle to develop meaningful solutions that will take America from where we are, to where we need to be.”
FFYF has already begun meeting with lawmakers to discuss opportunities for engagement and leadership on early childhood education. As part of the legislative agenda, FFYF identified three key areas through which lawmakers can advance early learning and care programs and initiatives: Budget and Appropriations, legislative authorizations, and new opportunities and solutions. Policy priorities include:
- Develop bipartisan budget solutions for programs, such as the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and Head Start, as well as those that foster innovative federal and state partnerships to improve early childhood education systems, such as the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5).
- Reauthorize programs that offer critical support to low-income families, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Child and Adult Care Food Program, Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), and the Head Start Act.
- Leverage policy authorization opportunities that increase the quality of early childhood education, such as the Higher Education Act (HEA), the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- Pursue new comprehensive solutions to further improve access to quality early learning and care.
FFYF is releasing this resource at a time when voters expect their elected officials to support meaningful bipartisan policies that increase the quality of and access to early childhood education. FFYF’s recently-released national poll finds that voters of all political affiliations will be watching to see if Congress can break partisan gridlock and get things done. Not only do voters see early childhood education as a unifying policy issue—they see a need. Only 15 percent of voters say that most or all child care programs in their area are high-quality and affordable.
To see FFYF’s full legislative agenda and other important resources for the new Congress, visit FFYF.org/116thCongress.
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. http://www.ffyf.org