This past week First Focus released its annual Children’s Budget 2016. This year’s edition offers a detailed guide of federal spending on children, an insightful resource for those seeking to improve the lives of America’s youth.  Woven throughout the report is the significance of early learning. To provide equitable opportunity for success later in life, policymakers and advocates must address the critical role of the birth through five continuum.

The future outcomes of children is strongly influenced by the earliest years of life. The Children’s Budget Book emphasizes that investing in children means investing in our future. High quality early learning opportunities are one of the most effective ways to improve a child’s health, education and economic outcomes.  This is particularly true for vulnerable young children, including those from low-income backgrounds or English-language learners.  By taking stock of current services at the federal level across sectors and programs that impact children’s lives, the Children’s Budget 2016 equips advocates and policymakers with a powerful tool for furthering their work.

The Children’s Budget 2016 reports that the total federal investments for early childhood programs has generally seen an increase in spending over the last five years. Significant progress has been made at the federal legislative level. Head Start funding has increased by $1 billion from FY2012 to FY2016 and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act.  Building upon these legislative wins for children, advocates and policymakers at the federal, state and local levels can continue to deepen their investment in early learning such that the availability of resources and services matches the need

For a comprehensive breakdown of program funding levels, read the full Children’s Budget 2016 here.