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. This year’s budget agreement includes, 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 December 2020, bipartisan leaders of the House and the Senate passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 that funds the government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021. The legislation includes increases for many crucial programs that support young children and their families. President Trump signed the Act on December 27, 2020.