With nearly $20 billion allocated for early care and learning, the president’s final budget proposal cements his legacy as champion for America’s youngest learners

WASHINGTON – Today the White House released President Obama’s FY2017 budget request to Congress, and it includes a substantial investment in quality early care and education.  The proposal includes roughly $19.5 billion for early childhood programs. This comes on the heels of significant congressional action on early childhood education, including historic support for early learning in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and the inclusion of nearly $1 billion in new money for early childhood education as part of the FY2016 appropriations bill in December.

“President Obama has proven time and again that America’s young children are among his top priorities,” said First Five Years Fund (FFYF) Executive Director Kris Perry.  “This year’s budget proposal reflects what experts have been saying for years – that early childhood education encompasses a continuum of programs and services from birth to age 5. We’re incredibly grateful to President Obama and this administration, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education, for their continued and crucial support for our nation’s youngest learners through programs that will truly make a difference in the lives of countless children and their families.”

The president’s budget includes significant funding to expand many of these programs, including:

  • Preschool Development Block Grant: $350 million, an increase of $100 million over FY2016.
  • Child Care Development Block Grants (CCDBG): $2.96 billion in discretionary CCDBG funding, an increase of $200 million discretionary increase. $6.58 billion in mandatory CCDBG funding.
  • Head Start: $9.6 billion, an increase of $434 million over FY2016. This includes $645 million to support Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships and other activities.

The overwhelming research shows that disadvantaged children benefit from access to quality early childhood programs—and society benefits from targeted investments in disadvantaged children. The first five years of life are a critical time when children develop the early cognitive and character skills that set the foundation for later success in school, career and life. The achievement gaps we see as early as kindergarten are created by gaps in a family’s resources necessary to foster strong early childhood development. Quality early care and learning opportunities have been proven to close that achievement gap, and help ensure those children have a shot at success in school and life.

What’s more, research from Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman shows that every dollar we invest in high-quality early learning for disadvantaged children from birth to five grows the economy through a 7-10 percent return – per child, per year – to taxpayers through improved education, health and social outcomes and decreased social 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.