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 ten years, federal early learning programs have seen steady, significant progress through increased, bipartisan investments from both Congress and the White House. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget agreement included, among other increases, an $85 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and a $135 million increase to Head Start and Early Head Start.
In May 2021, the White House released President Biden’s full FY2022 budget request to Congress, which details the administration’s funding goals and priorities for the fiscal year, before lawmakers begin their own budgetary and appropriations process. The FY2022 request includes over $3 billion in funding increases for core early learning programs and provides further details on the administration’s plans to reform and invest in a stronger child care and early learning system through the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan.