Early Learning Challenge Fund Update
Mar 23, 2010
Last fall, the U.S. House of Representative passed the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 (SAFRA, or HR 3221). Included in this legislation is the Early Learning Challenge Fund, a proposal to increase the number of low-income children in high-quality early education settings. The legislation called for $1 billion a year for eight years in competitive grants to challenge states to work toward comprehensive, high quality early education systems for children from birth to age 5.
The funding for the Early Learning Challenge Fund was tied to savings produced from changes to the student loan system. However, the estimated savings became significantly smaller over the past few months. Despite months of advocacy in support of investment in building the system of high-quality early education, the Early Learning Challenge Fund (along with several other new initiatives) could not be supported and they are not included in the final Budget Reconciliation Act.
There is now a much greater recognition in Congress and the Administration on the importance of the early years. We must continue to build on this growing awareness. House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Miller (D-CA) and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Harkin (D-IA) are committed to continuing to pursue the Early Learning Challenge Fund concept in legislation before their committees. And, we will continue to work to ensure that the $1.6 billion in the Administration's budget for new investments in CCDBG and $989 million in Head Start become a reality.