Today, the White House released the president’s FY2021 budget request to Congress, which includes the administration’s desired revenue and spending levels for each federal program, including early learning and child care initiatives.
This year’s budget request includes level funding for many of the programs that support the care and education of children from birth through five, as well as a proposal for $1 billion in mandatory funding for what the White House says would be a one-time fund to build the supply of child care for underserved populations and to stimulate employer investment. At the same time, other crucial early learning and child welfare programs received cuts, including the bipartisan Preschool Development Grant program and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Many of the early learning funding priorities included in the FY2021 budget request mirror what has been requested in previous years.
However, since FY2017 when President Trump released his first budget request, Congress has increased discretionary funding for federal early learning and care programs by more than $4.4 billion.
As the branch of government that determines funding levels for federal programs, Congress has consistently prioritized early care and learning during both the Trump and Obama administrations and, in the face of limited resources, appropriated increased funding to support the work being done at the state and local levels.
Last month, FFYF sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget encouraging the administration to prioritize funding for the key federal early learning and care programs. Even with significant funding increases made with bipartisan support over the last decade, only a fraction of those children eligible for federal programs actually benefit, and access to care still remains a barrier for many parents who wish to enter and remain in the workforce.
In December of 2019, Congress approved bipartisan FY2020 spending bills to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year. Included in the legislation is over $1 billion in increased funding for federal early learning and care programs, including a $550 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program and a $550 million increase for Head Start & Early Head Start. These investments build upon historic funding increases to CCDBG in FY2018 ($2.37 billion over FY2017 levels) as part of a bipartisan budget deal negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as further funding increases in FY2019.
FFYF will continue to work closely with bipartisan leaders on Capitol Hill to ensure the federal early learning and care programs continue to receive the greatest funding increases possible so that more children living in poverty have access to the quality early childhood experiences proven to set them up for success.