Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee met to consider the draft fiscal year 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) funding bill. The draft bill allocates funds for the core early childhood programs as follows: a $21.91 million funding increase for Head Start, level funding for Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships ($640 million), a $4 million increase for CCDBG, and level funding for PDG ($250 million). These allocations reflect a combined increase of $25.91 million above fiscal year 2017 funding levels. At a time when many other programs under the jurisdiction of the LHHS Subcommittee are facing budgetary cuts, HS, CCDBG, and PDG are being protected and increased within the funding provided by the 302(b) allocation. This makes a strong statement and is a testament to Congress’ bipartisan prioritization of America’s youngest learners.

Chairman Cole (R-OK) emphasized that continued support for early childhood education is considered a key national priority. Ranking Member DeLauro (D-CT) highlighted the need for early learning and care options across districts and states, and the impact federal funding has on meeting this need. Both long-time champions for early learning and care shared their commitment to ongoing bipartisan solutions and opportunities as the appropriations process continues.

The committee heard from multiple members on amendments to the House bill, including an amendment from Rep. Clark (D-MA) to build upon the bill’s funding for ECE and increase levels for HS, CCDBG, PDG, and restore funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS). Rep. Clark called attention to how PDG help states build capacity for high-quality preschool in a sustainable and lasting way, and that both red and blue states want to apply for the opportunity to elevate state systems-building. From FFYF’s latest bipartisan National Poll, state interest in protecting and expanding PDG is in line with 86% of voters who say helping states and local communities build better preschool services for parents and making them more accessible to children from low- and middle-income families is an essential investment.

Without an offset, the amendment didn’t pass due to the 302(b) limit. Nevertheless, members on both sides of the aisle engaged in a bipartisan discussion about what’s at stake and how dramatically a continuum of high-quality ECE from birth-through-age-five can impact the child, the workforce, and our nation’s position in a global economy. At a time of heightened partisanship, early childhood education has been one of a select few issue-areas where Republicans and Democrats find common ground and can work together in a bipartisan fashion, building upon the congressional record of investing in America’s youngest learners.

As Congress moves forward in the appropriations process for fiscal year 2018, FFYF looks forward to continued bipartisan discussion on prioritizing investments in children during the critical period of development that occurs from birth-through-age-five.