President’s Budget: Early Childhood Programs Core to Expanding Opportunity

Mar 04, 2014

By Hannah Matthews

In releasing his budget proposal for FY 2015, the President today reaffirmed his commitment to expanding high-quality early learning for all young children. The President’s budget makes investments across birth to five programs in the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, including child care, home visiting, Head Start and Early Head Start, and pre-kindergarten. The president called again for his preschool-for-all plan proposed in last year’s budget. This includes preschool services for all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds and an expansion of voluntary home visiting programs financed by an increase in the federal tobacco tax.

Following the budget deal that re-opened the federal government after a partial shut-down, Congress reached an agreement in December on overall spending levels for discretionary programs in FY 2014 and FY 2015. The President in his budget proposal, offers his priorities for spending within the agreed-upon spending limits in his base budget. In addition, he has offered an “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative,” which would further fund key priorities by closing tax loopholes and making other reforms. Congress would be required to take legislative action beyond annual appropriations in order to fully enact these additional priorities. The Opportunity Growth, and Security Initiative budget signals that the Administration views current revenue and spending levels as inadequate for making investments in programs core to increasing opportunity for all, including early childhood education.

Specifically, the President’s budget request for FY 2015 proposes:

  • An $807 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, of which $57 million is discretionary funding and $750 million is mandatory funding. Of the discretionary funds, $200 million would be available to states by formula to increase child care quality.
  • A $270 million increase for Head Start and Early Head Start, including a $150 million increase for expansion of Early Head Start through Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships. The Opportunity, Growth, and Security initiative would provide an additional $800 million for Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships.
  • A $250 million increase for preschool development grants to states to develop, enhance, or expand high-quality preschool programs for low-income children. The Opportunity, Growth, and Security initiative would provide an additional $250 million for preschool development grants. 
  • A $100 million increase for the Maternal and Infant Early Childhood Home Visitation (MIECHV) program.
  • A $3 million increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C to support early intervention services for infants and toddlers and their families. (IDEA Part B preschool services would be funded at last year’s level).

The President’s budget is the first step in the annual budget and appropriations process. In this budget request, the President has laid out his priorities for investment. Congress will now have its turn to issue budgets and assign program spending levels.  We encourage Congress to follow the President’s lead in advancing a budget that increases opportunity for our youngest children.

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