Each year, Congress determines funding levels for all of the federal defense and non-defense discretionary programs, including those that support the care and education of children from birth through age five. Traditionally, subcommittees within the House and Senate Appropriations Committees develop their own legislation that sets funding levels for the programs within their jurisdiction, which is then taken up by the full appropriations committees, and later the full legislative body, before a negotiation process between the two chambers of Congress and ultimately the president’s signature.
Over the past fifteen years, federal early learning programs have seen steady, significant progress through increased, bipartisan investments from both Congress and the White House.
In March, the White House released details of President Biden’s FY2024 budget request to Congress, which includes increased funding for many federal early learning programs, including an additional $980 million for CCDBG, $1.1 billion for Head Start (with over $500 million dedicated to increasing compensation for Head Start staff), $45 million for PDG B-5, as well as $600 billion in mandatory funding over 10 years for child care ($400 billion) and preschool ($200 billion), and $500 million for a new preschool incentive demonstration program to expand preschool in community-based settings.
On July 27th, the Senate Committee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a markup of proposed funding levels for child care programs for FY2024. Their plan would increase funding for federal early learning programs by $1 billion over FY2023 levels, including an additional $700 million for CCDBG, and $275 million for Head Start. The Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5) program would see a $5 million cut, but in the midst of this difficult fiscal environment, it is important that the program continue so states are able move forward with the work underway that is helping child care and early learning programs work more effectively and efficiently. The Senate bill followed the release of the House bill, which was released the week prior.
FFYF commends Congress’ commitment to making child care and early learning a top priority and looks forward to working with lawmakers in the House to keep the momentum going.