The Higher Education Act, first passed in 1965, is sweeping federal higher education legislation that helps students pay for college and encourages innovation, access, quality, and affordability in higher education. Over the past half-century, HEA has been reauthorized eight times, most recently in 2008. The federal policies and programs established in HEA—including Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS), teacher quality programs, and federal student aid programs play an important role in supporting efforts to improve the access and quality of early care and education.
In a competitive global economy, obtaining some kind of post-secondary education—whether through an apprenticeship program, technical degree, or four-year college – has become an increasingly important component on the path to economic self-sufficiency. High-quality early childhood programs support future educational attainment, and children who attend quality early childhood programs are more likely to go on to graduate from high school and obtain further education. In turn, higher education programs and policies can also help support state and local efforts to improve access to quality early childhood education (ECE).
One vital component of high-quality ECE is well-trained, highly qualified, and responsive early childhood educators. By strengthening educator preparation, we can ensure that the early childhood workforce is equipped with the knowledge, skills and abilities required to deliver high-quality instruction to our youngest learners. Another component is ensuring ECE programs are available and accessible in a way that works best for parents. Programs like Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) work to ensure low-income student parents have access to on-campus child care, which is critical to support their education and their family’s future.
Throughout the pandemic, Congress has provided relief for institutions of higher education (IHEs) through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). The CARES Act, enacted in March 2020, included $14 billion; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, enacted in December 2020, provided an additional $23 billion in HEERF funding; and the American Rescue Plan Act, enacted in March 2021, provided $39 billion.
In August 2021, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced the CCAMPIS Reauthorization Act, which would:
- Permanently reauthorize CCAMPIS;
- Authorize CCAMPIS at $500 million per year beginning in FY 2022 (current law is “such sums,” and FY21 appropriation was $55 million);
- Remove barriers for student parents to access benefits;
- Streamline program requirements to make it easier for on and off-campus child care providers to apply for grants;
- Connect student parents to benefit programs to help with food, housing, and health care; and
- Produce disaggregated data on the student parents served and the benefits of CCAMPIS