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Updates on Federal Issues


Proposed Federal Budget

 

On February 28 President Trump announced that his Administration wanted "to work with members of both parties to make child care accessible and affordable." On March 16 the President released a budget blueprint that, with its proposed deep cuts to non-defense discretionary programs, undermines this very goal, as well as the goal of an American future that is both competitive and creative, with opportunities to help all children and families succeed.

 

The President's budget is a request to Congress (more details to be released in May), but if this blueprint were to be enacted according to the budget narrative, it would result in an 18% cut to the Department of Health and Human Services and a 13% cut to the Department of Education. It would mean cuts to programs in areas like housing, after-school, nutrition, teacher professional development, student aid, health care, work-study programs, literacy and more - all programs that support our current and future workforce, and the health and well-being of the families, schools, and communities in which our children are cared for and educated.

 

While early care and education is identified as a high priority for the Department of Health and Human Services, the overall 18% decrease in the agency's budget would make it challenging to provide support for the already underfunded child care system, one in which the vast majority of children (84%) do not receive the support for which they are eligible. 

 

NAEYC is looking to Congress to respond to the President's proposed budget by building on the bipartisan commitment to early childhood education - not by slashing discretionary spending, but by investing wisely in supports for children, families, and educators. This includes helping low- and moderate-income families choose and afford quality child care by protecting and increasing funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which was reauthorized by Congress in 2014 with strong bipartisan support.

 

A substantially increased investment in CCDBG is needed to implement the new provisions of the law while maintaining the number of children and families who are able to learn and work with its support. This investment would also help build a stronger early childhood education profession by supporting increases in payment rates for early childhood educators. This is important because skilled, supported, and knowledgeable early childhood educators provide high-quality early childhood programs - and an average wage of $10.40/hour undermines that quality and diminishes the benefits to children, families, and our economy.

 

NAEYC believes that there are smart tax, budget and education reforms that can support our goal of increasing access to high-quality early learning for all children birth through age 8. But wholesale domestic funding cuts fail to take into account the fact that America can only win when we invest in our future - which means investing in our children, families, and educators, and the communities in which they live. In the coming months, the President and Congress must make changes to the budget by rejecting and reversing cuts, investing in child care and early learning, and building a future that is stronger and brighter for all.

 


Every Child Succeeds Act an Early Learning 


According to a blog post by New America's EdCentral, early education will see several benefits from the new Every Child Succeeds Act.

Title I funds have always been allowed to support children beginning at birth, which could include providing a pre-K program. However, a very small percentage of eligible children are supported with Title I funds prior to kindergarten. This draft bill explicitly states that providing early education programs is an allowable use of funds and encourages planning for transition from pre-K programs to elementary schools.

The bill includes language explicitly stating that Title II dollars (funds to prepare, train, and recruit high-quality educators) can be used for early educators. One way districts can use these funds is by providing programs and activities to increase “the knowledge base of teachers and principals on instruction in the early grades, and strategies to measure whether young children are progressing.” Another is by increasing “the ability of principals or other school leaders to support [educators] to meet the needs of students through age 8, which may include providing joint professional learning and planning activities for school staff and educators in preschool programs that address the transition to elementary school.” 

These types of activities are important for two reasons. First, many teachers and especially principals lack preparation on how to set the right expectations for instruction and learning in kindergarten and the early grades. As a result, teachers and principals often lack knowledge of how young children learn best or how intentional play is a powerful instructional tool. So, this language could lead to professional learning for educators on how to improve teaching and learning in PreK-3rd grade classrooms. Second, this language specifically states that staff and educators in pre-K programs can participate in professional learning activities, and seems to open the door to programs located off school grounds that might feed into the elementary school.

While these are all good and important inclusions, they are still just suggested activities in a list of many others. States and districts must choose to prioritize better connecting pre-K and the early grades of elementary school. 

Preschool Development Grants - Beyond the name, the program has little in common with the Obama Administration’s Preschool Development Grant (PDG) program that exists now. Under the Administration’s PDG, 18 states have grants to develop or expand access to high-quality pre-K slots for four-year-olds from low-income families. The program requires several quality indicators including full-day pre-K programs and lead teachers with bachelor’s degrees who are paid comparably to K-12 teachers.

The primary purpose of ESSA’s new PDG program is twofold. First, it aims to help states improve collaboration and coordination among existing early education programs (birth through school entry) in a mixed delivery system (public schools, home-based child care, center-based child care, Head Start, etc.). Second, it strives to smooth children’s transitions from pre-K programs to kindergarten.

Funds for the grants would be awarded to states on a competitive basis. Grantee states would be required to 1) conduct an extensive needs assessment on the availability and quality of existing early childhood programs in the state, 2) develop a plan that recommends collaboration, coordination, and quality improvement activities, 3) maximize parental choice and knowledge about programs within the state, 4) share best practices among early childhood education program providers across the state, and 5) improve the overall quality of early childhood education programs in the state.

To read the full article, click here.


Strong Start for America's Children Act Reintroduced in the House and Senate 


May 20, 2015 - It is a big week for early childhood in Congress!

Both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives reintroduced the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, legislation that would expand quality preschool programs and improve early learning opportunities for our nation’s youngest learners.

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and in the House by Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Richard Hannah (R-NY). Both bills would enable federal and state partnerships to support and expand high quality, full day preschool programs and increase school readiness.

Strong Start would advance quality early care and early learning access by:
  • Providing the necessary supports to increase the educational attainment of the early learning workforce
  • Allow for even more Early Head Start and child care program partnerships
  • Providing funding through existing state structures to allow states to increase access and quality in existing preschool programs, while giving states flexibility to use funds for quality and serve additional infants and toddlers.
Strong Start reflects the research showing that children who attend high quality preschool programs are less likely to be held back in school, require remedial education, or engage in criminal activity. High quality early learning is key to preparing young children for success in school and in life.

Please thank your members of Congress who support this legislation and ask them to vote in favor of it!  

NAEYC Responds to President Obama's State of the Union

On January 20, 2015 President Barack Obama delivered a groundbreaking State of the Union address, presenting a major tax reform proposal that once again demonstrates his commitment to young children and their families. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the nation's leading voice on high-quality early childhood education for children birth through age eight, applauds the President for his support of a vision held by NAEYC: all young children thrive and learn in a society dedicated to ensuring they reach their full potential.

The President's proposal would create a simpler, fairer tax code allowing for greater investments to benefit middle- and low-income families and grow the economy. The proposal would not only help streamline child care tax benefits, but also increase the maximum child care credit for middle class families with young children to $3,000 per child - triple the current amount. This tax reform would benefit 5.1 million families, helping them cover child care costs for millions of children. 

The State of the Union highlighted the importance of early learning, stressing that in order for parents to work and feel secure in today's economy, affordable high-quality child care is "a must-have." NAEYC congratulates the President for taking this firm stance on the importance of child care and referring to it as a "national economic priority." NAEYC looks forward to working with the Administration and Congress to improve the quality of child care settings and to ensure that all families have access to the child care that best meets their needs. 

"High-quality early childhood education needs to be affordable and accessible to all families in our Nation," said NAEYC Executive Director Rhian Evans Allvin. "Research in all areas - whether in education, neuroscience, or economics - points to the same conclusion: early learning matters. We have all the facts and now it is time we act on them; a public commitment will give parents peace of mind that their children are safe while they are at work and that they are engaged in learning environments that help prepare them for success in school and in life. 

Ahead of us lie many significant and exciting opportunities to realize these goals. The planned reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for example, will provide a great opportunity to improve quality and access for families, and to better connect early learning experiences with elementary schools. ESEA can serve as a vehicle to improve professional development for teachers working with young children, facilitate transitions into and through the early elementary grades, and to ensure that all communities can provide quality early childhood programs. 

The historic reauthorization of the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) also presents an important means to improve access and quality of early learning. The bipartisan bill includes many improvements to health and safety standards and promotes professional development opportunities so that children have early developments and learning experiences that meet the full range of their developmental needs. NAEYC looks forward to working with the Administration and Congress to increase investments in this important program. 

These federal initiatives, combined with state and local investments take us a step closer to delivering on the promise of early learning. A promise that ensures all young children have access to high quality early learning experiences and that early childhood educations serve in a value and revered profession.  To read more about Invest in US, please visit www.investinus.org.


President Obama Announced New Child Care Proposal 

January 20, 2015 - President Obama built on his commitment to help families afford child care by releasing a significant proposal designed to improve access to high quality child care. The proposal will provide support to 1 million more children by 2025, so that a total of 2.6 million can be served each month. 

A key component of the President's proposal is to expand access to child care through support for families with incomes up to 200 percent of poverty who have children under the age of three. The Proposal is designed to improve access to child care for our nation's young children, providing them with a safe and stimulating learning environment, while helping parents in the workforce or attending school or job training. 

The proposal calls for investment in the newly reauthorized Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to ensure high-quality programs. Resources will be provided to help guide states through the implementation process and to help them apply the increased health and safety standards. 

Additionally, the President proposes a $100 million investment in an innovation fund, which would support new competitive grants to states, territories, and tribes to assist them with the development, implementation and evaluation of their early childhood systems. This opportunity for innovation will help communities address the unmet needs of families and children. 

These three major steps toward securing greater access ad higher quality child care come immediately after the President's State of the Union Address, in which he unveiled a tax proposal that would streamline child care tax benefits and increase the minimum child care credit for middle class families with young children to $3,000 per child. This reform would help 5.1 million families cover the cost of child care.

These proposals will further expand t he recent investments in early childhood initiatives, such as home visiting, preschool development and expansion, and the Early Head Start/Child Care partnerships. Further details will be available when the President releases his budget in February.  


Invest in US: Challenging Everyone to Commit to Early Learning

On December 10, 2014, President Obama held the White House Summit on Early Education, convening state and local policymakers, philanthropists, business leaders, and advocates to discuss the importance of early childhood education and to highlight best practices across the nation.

At the Summit, the President launched Invest in US, a challenge to public and private partners, business leaders, philanthropists, advocates, elected officials, and each and every one of us to help build and expand high-quality early learning programs for all young children.

Many corporate and philanthropic leaders have committed to the challenge, making over $330 million in new commitments. Together with federal awards, the current total investment in the education and development for our nation’s youngest learners is over $1 billion.

NAEYC is a proud partner in the Invest in US initiative, and was represented at the Summit by Carol Brunson Day, President of the NAEYC National Governing Board, and Rhian Evans Allvin, NAEYC Executive Director. To read about NAEYC’s commitment to the challenge, please click here.

The Twitter Storm organized to support Invest in US was hugely successful! Twenty four members of Congress and celebrities, such as Shakira, joined the event, helping #investinus trend nationally for over an hour.

To read more about Invest in US, commitments made, and how you can take the challenge too, please visit www.investinus.org.



November 19, 2014 - CCDBG Reauthorization Signed by President Obama!

Flanked by both Democratic and Republican Senators and Representatives, President Obama signed the Child Care Development Block Grant Act of 2014 into law. After 18 years without any Congressional action, CCDBG was reauthorized and revised to include provisions to improve the quality of child care nationwide. Here’s what the new bill does:

  • Improve the health and safety of children in child care settings
  • Make it easier for women and families to get and keep the child care assistance they need
  • Enable children to have more stable child care
  • Strengthen the overall quality of child care
  • Tell Congress: Vote YES to reauthorize key child care legislation. 

High-quality child care is linked to the success of children and their parents. Child care provides early learning opportunities to children and enables women to work so they can support their families. With significantly increased funding, this bill can make a critical difference.