by Netsy Finestein
Consultant and Senior Fellow with the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
Nobody understands better than parents the importance of children’s early years and how they set the course for success in school and in life. In today’s economy, working parents need better access and financial support for quality child care opportunities that give our kids that strong start they need. Here’s what’s been happening at the national and state level:
President’s Budget Includes Comprehensive Early Childhood Education Plan
In early February, President Obama released his fiscal year 2016 budget, which includes significant investments to expand and enhance early childhood education and child care throughout the nation. The proposed budget would increase funding for pre-kindergarten, the Preschool Development Grants program, the Child Care Development Fund, Head Start, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships and voluntary home visiting programs. The budget also includes an expansion of the Child and Dependent Care tax credit from $1,000 to $3,000 per child, per year that will help families struggling with the cost of high-quality care for their kids.
Congress has now started its budget process and there has been strong support from both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate for greater investments in early learning.
States Taking Action on Early Learning
This year, many governors – Republicans and Democrats alike – used their state of the state addresses and budget announcements to highlight existing and future investments in early learning. Last year, 28 states and the District of Columbia increased their total investment in pre-K, with 10 states increasing by more than 20 percent. Only six states provided no state funding for pre-K (Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming), which could change this year. We’re working hard to make sure states build on this success and that they create more opportunities that will help children enter kindergarten ready to learn.
First Five Years Fund sends out monthly updates for parents, providers and community leaders on what our elected leaders are doing to support early childhood programs across the country. Give us your feedback – we’d love to hear from you! Send tips and suggestions and your email if you want to receive monthly updates and action alerts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Five Years Fund helps achieve better results in education, health and economic productivity through investments in quality early childhood education programs. 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.