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FFYF Capsule Collection: Appropriations and Child Care

Resource December 1, 2023

What Are Appropriations?

  • “Appropriations” is the Congressional process which allocates funding for federal programs (such as the ones that provide the backbone of child care and early learning.) It usually kicks off each February, when the White House submits a budget request to Congress to outline the president’s spending priorities. From there, Congressional appropriators in the House and Senate decide program-by-program funding levels. (In an ideal world, Congress produces a budget resolution by October 1. In practice, the process may not be this clear-cut.) 
  • The budget produces 12 separate appropriations bills, each determined by a specific subcommittee which oversees budgeting for individual agencies. Child care and early learning bills are primarily funded through the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education and Related Agencies bill (often called “Labor-H”). 
  • Senate Appropriations is headed by Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray (D., WA) and Ranking Member Sen. Susan Collins (R., ME), with its Labor-H Subcommittee headed by Subcommittee Chair Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D., WA) and Ranking Member Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R., WV)
  • House Appropriations is headed by Committee Chair Rep. Kay Granger (R., TX) and Ranking Member Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D., CT), with its Labor-H Subcommittee headed by Subcommittee Chair Rep.Robert Aderholt (R., AL) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D., CT). 

In A Nutshell

Even with growing support from states, businesses and philanthropy, federal funding makes up the majority of investment in child care and early learning in the United States. 

  • The Child Care and Development Block Grant (or CCDBG) is the largest source of federal funding for child care. Congress sets the funding levels, then states have flexibility in how they use these funds to support early learning and care systems to best meet the needs of children, parents, and child care providers in their communities. 
  • Early Head Start and Head Start are also funded through appropriations and deliver comprehensive early learning, health, nutrition, and family support services for young kids, their families, and pregnant women. 
  • And programs like Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) help states collect data and build an infrastructure that ensures quality, safety, and efficiency between different child care options. 

However, while federal investments for early learning and care have garnered strong bipartisan support for years, current federal investments only reach a fraction of income-eligible families. 

Learn More – Resources

From topline to in-depth, these resources can be used in meetings with staffers, with reporters, or simply to get up to speed on the importance of federal funding to child care and early learning. 

Take Action

  • Federal lawmakers have the power to prioritize, protect, and build on the programs that can make child care more affordable and more accessible to working families. Please join FFYF in urging Congress to seize every opportunity to strengthen child care and early learning programs by sharing and using this toolkit.

Voter Support

Voters believe federal funding for child care and early learning programs should be increased. 

  • In a July 2023 poll, even after acknowledging concerns around the federal deficit, 74% of voters say they still believe that “increasing funding for child care and early childhood education programs is an important priority and a good use of tax dollars.” 
  • This sentiment cuts across party lines, with 61% of Republican voters, 74% of Independent voters and 86% of Democratic voters agreeing on the issue.

Voters also provided clear bipartisan support to specific funding increases, including: 

  • Increasing the federal funding to states to expand current programs that directly help low-income children (also known as the Child Care & Development Block Grant, or CCDBG) – 78% support (including 68% of Republicans and 89% of Democrats)
  • Providing greater funding to Head Start and Early Head Start to support families with the greatest needs. – 80% support (including 71% of Republicans and 89% of Democrats)

FY24: Congressional Support 

 FY24 Bipartisan Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Letter 

  • Led by Representatives Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
  • Signed by Signed by 94 Representatives 
  • Ask: Fund the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) program at a level of at least $500 million

 FY24 Democrat Led Child Care & Development Block Grant Program (CCDBG) Letter

  • Led by Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)
  • Signed by 145 Democrats
  • Ask: Provide at least $12.4 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). 

FY24 Republican Led Child Care & Development Block Grant Program (CCDBG) Letter

  • Led by Representative Burgess Owens (R-UT)
  • Signed by 36 Representatives
  • Ask: Provide robust funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).

 FY24 Democrat Led Head Start and Early Head Start Letter

  • Led by Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT)
  • Signed by 166 Representatives
  • Ask: Provide $17.47 billion for Head Start in FY 2024. 

 FY24 Republican Led Head Start and Early Head Start Letter

  • Led by Representative Pete Stauber (R-MN)
  • Signed by 24 Republicans
  • Ask: Continue funding Head Start at the strongest level the Subcommittee deems possible.

FY24 Senate Democrat Led Child Care & Development Block Grant Program (CCDBG), Head Start and Early Head Start Letter

  • Led by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Tina Smith (D-MN)
  • Signed by 44 Democrats
  • Ask: Provide at least $12.4 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), and to provide $17.47 billion for Head Start in FY 2024.

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