Late yesterday, the White House previewed details on a tax proposal that President Obama will unveil during Tuesday’s State of the Union address. On the heels of a year where early childhood education saw significant policy movement, this latest proposal is another indication that early childhood development will continue to be a priority for the Obama Administration.
Initial details indicate that the White House proposal would triple the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), from $1,000 to $3,000 per child, and would make the credit more widely available to low and middle-income families – benefiting 5.1 million families and 6.7 million children, the majority of whom are under 5 years old. The proposal will also include calls to modernize child care savings programs and streamline tax benefits to better enable families to find quality, affordable child care.
Importantly, the White House announcement signals a continued focus on children from birth to age 5, with an important emphasis on a child’s earliest years of development. The announcement also is a strong indicator that for the third year in a row, President Obama will make a strong push for greater federal investments in early childhood education during the State of the Union.
Investments in America’s youngest children continue to be a political priority at all levels of government. Late last year, Congress passed the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (CCDBG) in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion, which President Obama signed into law in November. CCDBG had last been authorized in 1996 – nearly two decades ago. Since January 2014, Congress launched the $250 million Preschool Development Grants competition which generated interest from 35 states; they extended the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program; and approved more than $1 billion in early childhood education funding increases – all through bipartisan federal action.
In states across the country many leaders are echoing President Obama’s emphasis on early childhood education. Democratic and Republican governors are standing in front of their legislatures in State of the State Addresses, demanding action on early childhood education – including states like Indiana and Montana. Recent bipartisan polling affirms that voters care deeply about investments in early childhood education and want Congress and state leaders to do more.
With tremendous economic incentive and an overwhelming research base, along with support from business officials, military leaders and diverse political bases all across the country – early childhood education remains a key priority, and Tuesday’s State of the Union promises to be another marker of that.
The First Five Years Fund (www.ffyf.org) 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.