By Ounce of Prevention Staff
We are very pleased to see the Appropriations Committee prioritized early childhood education in their 2014 federal budget recommendations. In an era of flat funding or budget cuts, this is a strong investment in the future of our youngest and most vulnerable – sequestration cuts to Head Start and child care were fully restored, and early learning received more than $850 million in new funds.
Working under the constraints of the Ryan-Murray federal budget agreement, there wasn’t enough funding to fully restore the sequester cuts for all domestic discretionary programs, yet early education remained at the top of our federal policymakers’ agendas.
The impact of the spending bill on early childhood education is detailed below:
Indiscriminate sequestration cuts to Head Start were fully restored to the tune of $400 million, plus an increase of $625 million in new money. Of that, $500 million was allocated towards Early Head Start, including the Early Head Start/Child Care Partnerships. These partnerships will dramatically improve access to high-quality care for infants and toddlers by helping child care programs meet Early Head Start standards.
Funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant was increased by $154 million, fully restoring the sequester cut and providing an additional $39 million in new funding to provide critical services to families living in poverty.
States were incentivized to invest in preschool through $250 million in Race to the Top funds. The Department of Education will award these funds in competitive grants for early childhood education quality, professional development and model programs.
On behalf of the thousands of children and families served by the Ounce of Prevention Fund, we commend the Appropriations Committee for recognizing that investments in early education are investments in our future. Research shows that at-risk children who attend quality early learning programs are more likely to graduate high school, attend college and contribute more to the economy.
These investments will make a meaningful impact on children in Illinois, but will not alone afford all children access to quality, early childhood education. As the Illinois legislature works towards a 2014 budget, we urge policymakers to follow the federal government’s lead in elevating the importance of and funding for early childhood education.
Ounce of Prevention Fund
The Ounce of Prevention Fund works to ensure that all children, particularly those in poverty, have quality early childhood experiences from birth to age five. Educare Chicago, the Ounce’s state-of-the-art school on the South Side, has become a national model of high-quality early childhood education. Learn more at ounceofprevention.org.