The First Five Years Fund feels extremely positive about the Appropriations deal announced this evening. Clearly, early childhood education is one of the biggest winners in the bill. Despite being constrained by the Murray-Ryan budget deal, the Appropriations Committee heard the overwhelming support for early learning from voters, economists, CEOs and law enforcement officials and made early childhood education a significant priority. Early childhood education overall was increased by over $1 billion, making it one of the biggest winners in the spending deal.

Specific increased investments included:

  • An increase of $1.025 billion in Head Start funding— $612 million above pre-sequestration levels.
  • As part of the Head Start increase, $500 million was invested in Early Head Start, including Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.
  • $250 million under Race to the Top for competitive grants to develop, expand or enhance locally grown state preschool programs.

Sen. Mikulski and Rep. Rogers took a step in the right direction tonight. They recognized the economic, social and political imperative of these crucial investments in America’s children, families and communities, and we expect more investment as the year progresses.

Clearly sights will now be set on passage of the Strong Start for America’s Children Act – the bipartisan legislation geared towards transforming early childhood education in America. Given that the proposed program changes in the Strong Start bill primarily address mandatory funds, the Appropriations Committee didn’t quite have the full latitude to make a down payment at this time. Still, the political will demonstrated by members of Congress tonight is a positive indicator of where early childhood is headed. We expect big things ahead, and will celebrate this milestone.