WASHINGTON – On July 14, 2016, the House Appropriations Committee approved a $161.6 billion spending bill for fiscal year FY2017. The bill provides increases in funding for early learning programs, including Head Start and Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG), while also sustaining funding for Preschool Development Grants. Under the constraints of limited federal funding, the bill as approved by the committee would appropriate funding for programs proven to have the greatest national benefit and increased federal investment in early learning.

“After a year of historic support for early childhood education in Congress, we’re pleased to see policymakers demonstrating their continued commitment to our nation’s youngest learners,” said Kris Perry, Executive Director of the First Five Years Fund. “Funding for these crucial programs helps ensure that the most at-risk families are supported through affordable, high-quality early care and learning. However, we have a lot more work to do. As the appropriations process moves forward, we are hopeful for additional resources in this bill, and ultimately, for increased investments in the programs that support America’s greatest resource – our children.”

The House Appropriations Committee approved the following FY2017 funding levels for programs that provide critical early learning opportunities to young children from low-income families:

  • Head Start – $9.31 billion, an increase of $141.6 million over the FY2016 level
  • CCDBG – $2.8 billion, an increase of $40 million over the FY2016 level
  • Preschool Development Grants – $250 million, the same as the FY2016 level

As states and school districts shift toward implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the FY2017 House Labor/HHS Appropriations bill also allocates $67 billion for the U.S. Department of Education.  This sustains combined FY2016 funding levels for Title I and School Improvement activities (Title I and School Improvement activities were consolidated under ESSA). Title I is the primary federal program designed to promote educational equity in elementary and secondary schools by providing financial assistance to public schools and school districts that serve a high number of children from low-income families, supporting these students’ efforts to meet state educational standards. Both within Title I and throughout the new law, there are numerous opportunities for states and districts to invest in early learning.

Congress has proven to be a champion for early learning, and remains so in a time of limited resources. Continued support this year is evident in the increased or sustained funding for early learning programs in both the House and Senate bills as approved by the respective Appropriations Committees. Recent negotiations in the House have demonstrated the importance of bipartisan leadership in ensuring our youngest learners have access to high-quality early education. House Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) demonstrated the value of such leadership by supporting increased and sustained funding for early childhood programs included the bill. House Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) also expressed hope that both sides will continue working together to support funding for early learning programs, while advocating for additional funding for the overall bill and other priority programs.

Policymakers across the political spectrum continue to demonstrate their understanding that early learning needs to be a national priority because of the benefits it brings to children, their families and communities, and the country as a whole. Investing in programs for young children from low-income families – such as Head Start, CCDBG, and the Preschool Development Grants – can improve education, health, and social outcomes, while decreasing government spending.

About the First Five Years Fund: The First Five Years Fund helps America achieve better results in education, health and economic productivity through investments in quality early childhood education programs for disadvantaged children. FFYF provides knowledge, data, and advocacy – persuading federal policymakers to make investments in the first five years of a child’s life that create greater returns for all. http://www.ffyf.org