Bipartisan Senate agreement proposes 5-year reauthorization for MIECHV, double funding for CCDBG

WASHINGTON –A deal negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to raise domestic spending caps included major victories for America’s young children from birth through age 5. The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, which expired in September of 2017, was reauthorized for five years, alongside other health extenders. Additionally, the deal includes $5.8 billion over two years in funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program – effectively doubling the program’s discretionary funding and paving the way for implementing important quality improvements to child care that a bipartisan majority of Congress approved in 2014.

In response to the proposal, First Five Years Fund (FFYF) interim executive director Sarah Rittling issued the following statement:

“By advancing a reauthorization of the crucial MIECHV program, bipartisan members of the Senate are clearing a path toward ensuring at-risk parents can continue to work with voluntary home visiting providers to become their baby’s best teacher and caregiver. This bipartisan program is immensely popular among lawmakers, with strong champions supporting it on both sides of the aisle, and has been a cornerstone of successful federal policy. We are hopeful that the House will move quickly to adopt the Senate’s MIECHV proposal.

“The proposed funding increases to CCDBG would make a huge difference in the lives of countless American children and their families. We know that quality child care provides the support children need to build a foundation for a healthy and productive future, allowing them to develop the social, emotional and academic skills necessary to be successful throughout their lives. Increasing funding for CCDBG will mean that more children from low-income families have access to the high-quality child care opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach.”

In November of 2016, FFYF released a policy framework with recommendations for Congress and the Trump administration to strengthen existing programs while establishing a well-financed continuum of high-quality education and care from birth through age five. Included in these policy proposals was a recommendation to reach bipartisan consensus on the budget to allow Congress to fund all early learning and care programs such as Early Head Start, Head Start, Preschool Development Grants and CCDBG. FFYF also sent a letter to Congress late last year, urging lawmakers to raise the caps on non-discretionary dollars in order to increase funding to crucial early childhood programs. The budget deal reached today would give appropriators the funds required to dedicate to the needs of these programs as they work over the coming days and weeks through the appropriations process.

American voters overwhelmingly support investments in quality early learning and care opportunities for children from birth through age 5. In fact, 79% of voters—including 80% of Trump voters and 79% of Clinton voters—want Congress and the administration to work together to improve the quality of child care and preschool, and make it more affordable for parents. 85% of voters say there should be increased funding for child care that directly supports greater access to quality programs for low- and middle-income children while their parents work or attend school. Majorities across partisan lines agree—74% of Republicans, 79% of Independents, and 97% of Democrats.

A cornerstone of evidence-based public policy, MIECHV provides funds to states and local grantees for developing and implementing voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs. Voluntary home visiting programs pair at-risk families looking for additional support and mentoring with trained home visitors such as nurses, social workers, and educators. Home visitors meet with families at home and work with parents, from pregnancy through their child’s kindergarten entry, to help lay the foundation for the health, education, development, and economic self-sufficiency of the entire family. Visits by caring, experienced professionals can turn those good intentions into good parenting, breaking generations-long cycles of poverty, addiction, abuse and despair.

CCDBG was first enacted in 1990, and authorizes the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), which is administered by the Office of Child Care (OCC) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). With champions on both sides of the aisle in support of the legislative agreement, the CCDBG Act was reauthorized for the first time in 18 years in November 2014. CCDBG has now been significantly revised to include health and safety requirements for child care providers, increasing quality and improving transparency so families are equipped to make the best choice.

The First Five Years Fund 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. FFYF helps America achieve better results in education, health and economic productivity through investments in quality early childhood education programs for disadvantaged children.