Today, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) further strengthened the early childhood education provisions of the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 by unanimously approving the Early Learning Alignment and Improvement Grants Amendment (ELAIG). The bipartisan amendment, introduced by Sen. Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Isakson (R-GA), dedicates funding for states that propose to improve coordination, quality and access for early childhood education.
“Today the Senate HELP Committee took another bipartisan step forward on behalf of America’s youngest learners,” said Kris Perry, Executive Director of the First Five Years Fund. “We commend Senators Isakson and Murray for their leadership in ensuring ESEA gives young children an opportunity to benefit from quality early learning opportunities so they enter the K-12 system adequately prepared and ready to learn. Today’s vote is further proof that support for early childhood education transcends party or political ideology.”
In a letter sent to committee leaders late last week, Perry acknowledged that a dedicated funding stream for early childhood education would enhance the new ESEA law that already includes a number of important provisions to support state and local efforts to improve early childhood education. Specifically, the Early Learning Alignment and Improvement Grants Amendment would:
- Improve coordination of existing funds for early childhood education, ensuring that each federal and state dollar is used more efficiently
- Target resources to low- and moderate-income families
- Increase the quality of existing early learning and child care
- Develop a plan to expand access to early childhood programs that exhibit high program quality
- Prioritize funding for improving quality and access in rural areas
- Disseminate best practices for blending and braiding funding, as well as program quality
- Support programming for infants and toddlers, as well as preschool-age children
Last year 35 states petitioned the federal government for money to support their new or existing early childhood education programs. Currently ESEA does not include a dedicated funding stream to states for early learning.
Governors across the country – Republicans and Democrats alike – are making early childhood education a priority as they draw up budgets and develop legislative initiatives for the coming year. What’s more, twenty-eight states from California to Michigan and DC increased investment in early childhood education in 2014, according to the Education Commission of the States. In states like North Dakota and Montana – which currently provide no public pre-K – political leaders are trying to make first-ever investments.
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. www.ffyf.org