A Good News Day for Early Care and Education

Dec 16, 2011

By Hannah Matthews

Winners of new grant program to improve early childhood systems announced, and child care and early education programs receive increases in a broad FY 2012 spending bill slated to pass today. (Update: The final FY 2012 appropriations bill passed Congress on December 17th).

Today's big news in early childhood began with the White House announcing recipients of the first Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant competition.

California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington will receive grants ranging from $50 million to $100 million to make quality improvements in their early childhood systems and move more high needs children into high quality care over the next four years. Additional information on the awardees, the competition and selection process will be available soon.

But all early childhood advocates and leaders have reason to celebrate. In a very difficult funding time, a final 2012 funding bill clearing Congress contains much-needed increases in child care and early education funding, including:  

  • A $424 million increase for Head Start and Early Head Start to maintain the enrollment of children currently served into next school year.
  • A $60 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).
  • A $60 million increase for Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
  • $550 million for Race to The Top. Accompanying report language indicates that Congress expects this program to have a robust early childhood component, so it appears there may be a second RTT-ELC competition to come.

The final bill will likely include a small across-the-board cut to discretionary funding, which may have a small impact on the funding levels above. 

Meanwhile, the Administration is putting together its FY 2013 budget and with possible deficit reduction actions to come, funding will remain a challenge. Join the early childhood community in letting the White House know how important preserving and strengthening child care and early education funding is so we can continue to move forward for our most vulnerable children.

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