WASHINGTON – This week, President Donald Trump released his preliminary budgetary blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year. This budget only includes a high-level summary of proposed funding levels and administration priorities, but as currently written, this administration’s budget includes historically deep cuts to domestic programs.

While we were encouraged the budget did not mention specific cuts to federal early childhood education programs, we are concerned by the overall funding cuts to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Education, and the size and scope of the proposed cuts across domestic programs. These cuts follow years of post-sequestration budget caps that have hamstrung vital programs funded through a dwindling discretionary spending pool.

As lawmakers begin to discuss funding of discretionary programs, it’s important to reinforce that early learning and care programs have proven themselves as some of the best investments. Evidence shows that high-quality early childhood education programs save taxpayers money by improving children’s outcomes and preparing them for success. One recent study found that investing in early childhood education generates up to a thirteen percent return on investment. Unfortunately, despite programs’ ability to generate financial returns for Americans, millions of young children still lack access to high-quality early childhood education.

Despite the president’s budget proposal, federal early learning and care programs continue to receive widespread bipartisan support. Members of Congress from both parties are prioritizing investments in programs including the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, Child Care and Development Block Grants, and Preschool Development Grants. These programs significantly improve children’s lives and promote American prosperity.

Bipartisan support for these programs continues to increase. On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee hosted a hearing on the reauthorization of MIECHV. Diana Rauner, President of the Ounce of Prevention Fund and First Lady of Illinois , was joined in a chorus of support from Republican and Democratic Committee members as she testified to the importance of MIECHV.

  • Adrian Smith (R-Neb.): “I, like other members of this subcommittee, have had the opportunity to see first-hand what home visiting looks like in my community. Last Monday, I spent time with Panhandle Public Health District’s Healthy Families America program, which aims to improve the economic success and school readiness of vulnerable children and families in three Nebraska counties – Scotts Bluff, Morrill, and Box Butte. Dawn, one participant I met with on Monday, shared her experience of working with a home visitor who helped her find a stable home and a steady income in order to provide for her growing family.”
  • Denny Davis (D-Ill.): “MIECHV has already made a difference for tens of thousands of children and families. As we continue to invest and home visiting models continue to learn – from rigorous research evaluations, from careful data tracking, from the families and communities they serve, and from each other – I believe we will be able to do even more to build strong children who grow into successful adults.”

On Thursday, Don Millican, Board Member of The George Kaiser Family Foundation and Tulsa Educare, Inc., joined Jennifer Gardner, Save the Children Trustee and Actress, and Steven Dow of CAP Tulsa in testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. The hearing was chaired by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) who recently expressed concern about any cuts to early childhood programs in an opinion piece published in The New York Times.

We must recognize this bipartisan defense of investment early childhood education programs, and we must act to preserve and encourage continued investment to ensure we are truly supporting American prosperity.

Watch the full House Ways and Means Subcommittee hearing here.

Watch the full House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing here.