Statement from First Five Years Fund (FFYF) Executive Director Kris Perry on FY 15 Appropriations for early learning:
The First Five Years Fund (FFYF) applauds the Senate and House for continuing to support early childhood education programs as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations agreement. In a tight budget, appropriators increased funding by $75 million to states for child care, as part of the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Earlier this year, Congress increased funding for early learning programs by a total of $1.4 billion, making early learning one of the top winners in the appropriations process then – and we applaud Congress for holding the line on this critical funding.
It is a sign of strong, continued bipartisan support that early learning programs not only maintained that additional funding, but received a modest increase from Congress to help states improve the quality and safety of child care. Early learning funds will be used by states to improve child care quality, health and safety practices as states work to implement the quality guidelines that were signed into law by President Obama shortly before Thanksgiving. Other early childhood education programs, including Head Start and Preschool Development Grants, were held constant at last year’s funding levels.
FFYF applauds House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (KY), Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski (MD) and Ranking Member Sen. Jerry Moran (KS), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT) and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin for their work to prioritize early learning in a year with extremely constrained resources.
This agreement comes a few days after President Obama hosted the White House Summit on Early Childhood Education. At the event, President Obama launched Invest in US, a new effort by the private, philanthropic, and public sectors to invest in and expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities.
Today’s appropriations announcement is a step in the right direction that benefits not only our youngest learners, but our entire country. Research from Nobel Laureate economist James Heckman shows that early childhood education is one of the best economic investments we can make. Every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood programs for disadvantaged children produces a 7-10 percent per year return on investment through improved education, health and social outcomes and decreased social spending.
We offer appreciation for the work that was done today, but there’s still more to do. We must continue to support greater investment in efforts to help children be prepared for school and become confident learners, productive workers and successful adults – helping grow the economy and create a stronger America for generations to come.
About the First Five Years Fund
The First Five Years Fund helps America achieve better results in education, health and economic productivity through investments in quality early childhood education programs for disadvantaged children. FFYF provides knowledge, data, and advocacy – persuading federal policymakers to make investments in the first five years of a child’s life that create greater returns for all. ffyf.org