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Looking Back at Early Learning Legislation Introduced in the 116th Congress

Resource February 11, 2021

According to FFYF’s years of national bipartisan polling, voters of every political persuasion say more should be done to ensure all children – particularly those living in poverty – have access to high-quality early learning and care opportunities. In fact, in FYFF’s 2020 poll, 84% of respondents said that high-quality, affordable child care for families with young children, like healthcare and education, is an essential service.

This overwhelming support is evident in Congress as well. FFYF’s tracker for legislation introduced in the 116th Congress captured nearly 250 bills related to early childhood education (ECE), more than a third of which (90) are bipartisan. As the 117th Congress begins its work, we want to share a few additional insights about the numerous bills introduced in the last two years that not only reaffirm support for existing programs like the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Head Start, and the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five, but also seek to develop new and innovative solutions to the problems American families face. 

The table below breaks down some of the most common categories for legislation.

Tax Code Reform4518
ECE as a Workforce Support265
ECE Workforce258
Child Care Facilities144
Maternal Health and Family Support Services (Including Home Visiting)142

Within the area of Tax Code Reform, proposals ranged from amendments to existing credits, such as the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), as well as revisions to Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and 529 accounts to allow or expand use of such accounts for expenses related to child care. 

Bills in the Workforce Support category included child care as an allowed or required use of funds aimed at helping individuals to complete job training programs or higher education. While there was some overlap between this category and the ECE Workforce category, the ECE Workforce legislation was primarily focused on providing training and education opportunities to grow the supply of early educators, as well as providing training to individuals already employed in the ECE field.

For updates on early learning legislation in the the 117th Congress, check out our latest tracker.

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