Tonight President Obama will give his final State of the Union (SOTU) address. And while he is expected to give more of a farewell speech than announce new policies or initiatives, we hope he will point to early childhood education as an issue where he’s been able to lay some groundwork in a bipartisan way that should be built upon during his final year in office and beyond. Below is President Obama’s SOTU record on the issue over the past three years. Come 2017 we will want to work with whoever is in office to cement his legacy and do bigger things on ECE. 


Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road.  But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program.  Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for a private preschool.  And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives.  So tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America.  That’s something we should be able to do.  


  • The President’s call in 2013 helped to kick start a campaign that demonstrated broad support for increased federal investments in early childhood education. Since then, the President has worked with Congress to:
    • Extend the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.
      • The legislation ensures that funding for voluntary federal home visiting programs continue. Without this action, thousands of community-based programs would be forced to close, affecting families in need and staff across the country.
    • Reauthorize the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) with near unanimous support.
      • Reauthorizing the program is an important step in helping low income families attain safe, enriching child care while parents go to work.
    • Include a new preschool program to support states in recent reauthorization of ESEA that received overwhelming bipartisan support.
      • Congress appropriated $750 million for Preschool Development Grants which enabled states to build and strengthen local preschool systems and opportunities as laid out by the President’s Preschool for All proposal.
    • Increase funding for core programs during very tight fiscal years. The Appropriations Subcommittee was able to:
      • Leverage Head Start and child care resources by providing $1.6 billion in funding to expand Early Head Start through the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. This will serve more infants and toddlers, and maintain quality in the existing Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
      • Allot $750 million for Preschool Development Grants which will enable states to build and strengthen local preschool systems and opportunities, as laid out by the President’s Preschool for All proposal.
      • Provide an additional $176 million for the Child Care Development Fund to promote high quality care and development.
      • Support young children with disabilities and their families through $21 million in additional funding to strengthen statewide early intervention systems.


Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education.  Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every four year-old.  As a parent as well as a President, I repeat that request tonight. But in the meantime, thirty states have raised pre-k funding on their own.  They know we can’t wait.  So just as we worked with states to reform our schools, this year, we’ll invest in new partnerships with states and communities across the country in a race to the top for our youngest children.  And as Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K they need.”


  • $250 million was appropriated to Preschool Development Grants, which helped states expand and improve early childhood education.
  • President Barack Obama announced Invest in US, a public awareness campaign that challenges business leaders, philanthropists, advocates, public officials and the public to build a better nation through high-quality early childhood programs for children from birth to age five. Already, dozens of corporations, foundations and individuals have agreed to dedicate a greater ongoing percentage of their philanthropy to expanding high quality early childhood programs and research as a strategy for achieving better education, health, social and economic outcomes, with commitments currently totaling more than $333 million.


It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. So it’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or as a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available and more affordable for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.”


  • Following last year’s State of the Union address Majority Leader McConnell and then Speaker Boehner both identified the tax credit as an example of something in the speech they can get behind. Congress continues to think through tax reform, including the proposal that was included in the extenders.