Statement from First Five Years Fund (FFYF) Executive Director Kris Perry on Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations for early learning:

The First Five Years Fund (FFYF) applauds the Senate and House for federal funding provided to early childhood education programs as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations agreement finalized today.  In a tight budget, appropriators agreed to increase funding by $75 million to states for child care, as part of the Child Care and Development Block Grant.  These 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.

Last 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. 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. Today’s agreement is an important signal of support in a year with extremely constrained resources, and we look forward to building on this progress in the next Congress.

This agreement comes days before President Obama will host the White House Summit on Early Childhood Education, a convening of prominent business leaders, philanthropists, advocates, elected officials and members of the public committed to the expansion of  high-quality early education opportunities for children across the country from birth through age five. At the event, President Obama will announce new efforts to enhance and expand the reach of high-quality public early childhood programs in high-need communities. The President will also highlight new actions by the private, philanthropic, and public sectors to invest in and expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities.

Today’s announcement or appropriations for early childhood education programs 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.