In Focus: Head Start/Early Head Start
Mar 4, 2014 | PERMALINK »
President’s Budget: Early Childhood Programs Core to Expanding Opportunity
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.
Feb 24, 2014 | PERMALINK »
Goals for EHS-CC Partnerships that Meet the Needs of Low-income Families
With the inclusion of funding for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships in the most recent omnibus spending bill, many folks are wondering what they are, who can participate and what will be required of applicants. The Administration has taken quick action by launching a new website just last week to ensure that those who are curious and ready to get started can get the information that they need. The website will continue to be updated as more information becomes available. It currently explains what the partnerships will provide, who is eligible to participate, and how the funds will be awarded.
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) will be issuing a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to provide instructions and criteria to those interested in applying for an EHS-CC partnership grant. CLASP submitted a set of recommendations to ACF based on the following goals to ensure that the partnerships meet the needs of low-income, vulnerable families:
- Reach the Greatest Number of High-Needs Infants and Toddlers with Comprehensive Services. Early Head Start is designed to provide comprehensive early childhood education services to poor infants and toddlers. EHS-CC partnerships should reach the greatest number of vulnerable children, especially those who may be particularly underserved due to language barriers or immigrant status.
- Expand Full-day, Full-year Services for Working Families. Parents need child care to go to work and support their families. Partnership funds should reach children in child care settings in order to improve access to quality care for those who need full-day and full-year child care.
- Support Continuity of Care. EHS provides more continuity than child care subsidies because children who are eligible for EHS can remain in the program regardless of changes in parental income or work status. Continuity of care is extremely important for young children’s development and should be a standard practice for both EHS and child care programs participating in the partnerships; children should remain eligible for partnerships until age 4, regardless of changes in household circumstance and as long as they stay with the same provider.
- Improve the Skills and Compensation of the Child Care Workforce. Most states do not fund child care subsidies at the level needed to support child care providers in meeting high-quality standards. Partnerships provide an important opportunity to offer increased monetary and non-monetary resources for child care providers serving low-income children and should include increased compensation for caregivers and access to education, training and professional development.
- Implement Well-Planned Partnerships. It is critical that in an effort to reach as many children as possible in a short amount of time that the importance of planning and thoughtful execution is not overlooked. The first year of partnerships should allow for start-up time and resources to bring partners together to fully plan a successful model.
The EHS-CC partnerships provide an unprecedented opportunity to expand high-quality child care for low-income infants and toddlers. By designing the partnerships and the FOA with the above goals in mind, we can ensure that more vulnerable children and families receive high-quality early education and comprehensive services to help them grow and thrive.
Jan 23, 2014 | PERMALINK »
What are Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships?
Last week, the President signed a 2014 spending bill, which included a substantial increase of $1.4 billion for child care and early education. Over $1 billion of that increase was for Head Start, the nation’s early childhood program for poor children. Included within the Head Start appropriation was $500 million for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. Individually, Early Head Start (EHS) and child care programs are widely known and understood, but what does it mean to bring the two together?
The Administration for Children and Families explains that research shows that much of the child care available to infants and toddlers is not high quality. Given the major impact the earliest years have on child development and outcomes, ensuring that children have access to and can benefit from high-quality child care is crucial. EHS-child care partnerships are intended to leverage the quality standards of EHS so that more low-income children can benefit from high-quality services through child care centers and family child care homes. A national evaluation of the Early Head Start program found that participating 3-year-olds performed signiﬁcantly better on a range of cognitive, language, and social-emotional development measures than a randomly assigned control group. Many other sources, including this study, find that EHS promotes learning and the parenting that supports it within the first three years of life.
Early Head Start partnership funding will be available to all 50 states based on their share of poor young children, and programs will compete for available dollars in each state. These federal grants will allow new or existing Early Head Start programs to partner with local child care centers and family child care providers serving low-income infants and toddlers. Funding will be available to help child care programs meet Early Head Start standards and for training and technical assistance.
Dedicated federal funding for partnerships is new, but the idea is not and some are even supported on the state level. In recent research CLASP conducted in conjunction with Zero to Three, we found states primarily using two strategies to improve infant/toddler child care quality through partnerships: establishing policies that lessen the burden of partnership; and providing funding to EHS programs that partner with child care providers, so that EHS services are delivered in child care settings. For example:
- In Nebraska, five EHS programs have $30,000 sub-grants with the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services to establish partnerships with center- or home-based child care providers. In addition to providing their child care partners with training and mentoring, the EHS programs have discretion to use part of their grant funds for child care provider incentives such as books, equipment, and hiring of substitutes so that full-time child care staff can attend trainings.
- In Kansas, EHS programs receiving state funds are required to collaborate with child care centers and licensed family child care providers to provide EHS services, ensuring that enrolled pregnant women and children receive services meeting federal Head Start Performance Standards in both settings. Child care partners are offered supports such as technical assistance, grants, and comprehensive services for the families they serve in order to help the providers meet federal standards and raise the quality of care for participating children.
The $500 million appropriated in the 2014 budget agreement provides a tremendous opportunity for states and communities to make an impact and reach our youngest, most vulnerable children and families. Learning from what others have already done while developing partnerships that work for providers, children, and families will ensure that more children and families receive the child care and early education services they need to grow and thrive.