Looking Back, Looking Forward

Dec 22, 2011

By Hannah Matthews

It seems every year we look back and think what an exceptional year it was, and 2011 was no different for the early childhood field. Recent news of the Early Learning Challenge grant winners currently is making early childhood headlines, but it certainly is not the only big news of 2011.

The year began with continuing discussions, and disagreements, about the FY 2011 budget (that had begun the previous October) among the House, Senate and Administration.  Early childhood advocates did a brilliant job in keeping up the drum-beat for early childhood investments and staved off large proposed cuts to Head Start. In the end, the final 2011 budget agreement increased funding for child care, Head Start, and included funding for the Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge. 

Additionally, Congress proposed early childhood bills, including Senator Casey's Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act and Representative Hirono's Continuum of Learning Act. The Administration announced funding for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) in June. The Office of Child Care issued important guidance encouraging continuity of care through child care subsidy policies. And the Office of Head Start established a system to hold programs accountable for quality and make Head Start funding competitive.

It's been quite a year!

Finally, in case you missed them, here are some highlights of publications from the CLASP Child Care and Early Education team in 2011:

2012 is just around the corner. It brings challenging state budgets and continued pressure at the federal level to reduce spending, threatening child care and early education investments. At the same time, with broad recognition of the critical importance of the earliest years, there is interest at all levels in moving forward on improving high-quality early childhood systems to meet the needs of our most vulnerable children. In 2012, look for additional resources from CLASP on building high-quality early childhood systems, addressing cultural competency in early childhood policies, improving state infant/toddler child care policies, financing comprehensive services in child care programs and more.

The CLASP child care and early education team wishes you the best for a happy holiday season.

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