In Focus: Systems and Financing

Feb 9, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

President’s Budget Proposes Deep Investment in Child Care and Early Education

By Stephanie Schmit

President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 (FY17) budget proposal continued his call over many years for significant investments in child care and early education. This proposal sends an important message about the significance of investing in the early years to help ensure young children's success in life and support families' economic security.

Key investments in the budget proposal include:

  • Child Care. The President’s budget proposes a $200 million increase in discretionary funding (the funding set each year in the appropriations process) to help states implement the changes required by the 2014 Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization. This funding would include a $40 million competitive pilot to build the supply of high-quality child care in rural areas and during non-traditional hours. The proposal also includes $3.7 billion in additional mandatory dollars in FY17, as a first installment of investments totaling $82 billion over 10 years, to ensure high-quality child care access for low- and moderate-income families with children under age 4. Additionally, the budget proposes that child care funded directly through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) funds meet the same health and safety standards established in the CCDBG reauthorization.
  • Head Start. The proposal includes an increase of $434 million in discretionary dollars for Head Start. This includes funding for increasing the number of children in a full-day, full-year program ($292 million), maintaining the current number of children and quality in Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships ($10 million), and providing a cost of living increase ($132 million) for Head  Start programs.
  • Preschool Development Grants. The proposal includes a $100 million increase for preschool development grants, which would provide continuation funding for existing grantees and new funds under the newly authorized Preschool Development Grants included in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015.
  • Preschool for All and Home Visiting. The proposal includes $75 billion—to be funded with an increased tobacco tax –to support access to high-quality preschool for all four-year-olds from low-income families and evidence-based home visiting. The budget also includes $20 million for a new initiative to provide home visiting in rural and tribal areas that will be jointly administered through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  • Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). The budget provides an increase of $35 million for IDEA preschool grants and $45 million for the IDEA Infants and Families program.  
  • Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. The budget proposal includes an expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) for families with children under age five. The proposal triples the maximum credit available for families to $3,000 per child and makes the full CDCTC available to families with incomes of up to $120,000.

The investments laid out in President Obama’s budget proposal would be historic and set an important vision for the country. The budget proposal, however, is a blueprint; Congress will ultimately be responsible for setting funding levels for the federal budget. In the coming weeks, congressional leadership will lay out its vision for investments. We encourage Congress to affirm its commitment to continued investments in child care and early education. In particular, states will need significant new CCDBG funds in 2017, beyond the proposed discretionary increase, to implement the bipartisan reauthorization. These investments are critical to ensure that the goals of the CCDBG reauthorization are met and ensure the success of young children who will become the future leaders and workers of our country. 

Dec 2, 2015  |  PERMALINK »

Using Two-Generational Strategies to Support Immigrant Families

By: Christina Walker and Helly Lee

Back in the spring, CLASP convened a high-level group of professionals for a two-day, intensive discussion of important opportunities in policy and practice to better serve immigrant parents and their children together. This Two-Generational Strategies to Improve Immigrant Family and Child Outcome roundtable included senior policymakers, practitioners, researchers, advocates, and foundation leaders from the world of policy and service delivery for low-income families and the world of immigrant-serving organizations and immigration policy.

Today, CLASP is releasing a brief summarizing the highlights drawn from the April roundtable. The roundtable and brief come at a critical time, when immigrants and their children are such a significant part of the changing demographics of the United States. Immigrant families are crucial to the nation’s future success: one-quarter of the nation’s young children – those under age 6 - are children of immigrants. Being a child of immigrants is not itself a risk factor for poor developmental outcomes, and many immigrant families demonstrate strong resilience and success. However, the brief highlights the challenges that arise from the sheer difficulty of providing high-quality services in the face of barriers such as language, education level, race, and poverty that some immigrant families encounter. For instance:

  • 29 percent of young children of immigrants are poor and more than half -56 percent - are low-income;
  • 3 million (50 percent) of immigrant parents with young children are Limited English Proficient (LEP); and
  • 28 percent of immigrant parents of young children have less than a high school degree.

Participants in the roundtable reiterated the urgency of  this moment to have critical conversations and make crucial connections between immigrant-serving and more “mainstream” organizations in order to seize promising policy opportunities. With major policy changes underway as a result of recent reauthorizations of the nation’s child care subsidy and workforce programs, as well as federal executive action to promote immigrant integration, participants identified key strategies, including four practical action steps highlighted in the brief to advance two-generational strategies to support immigrant parents and their children:

  1. Spreading the Sense of Urgency and Opportunity by replicating the discussion of two-generational strategies to support immigrant families and children in convenings around the country to share knowledge and provide an opportunity to plan collaboratively.
  2. Creating Strategic Partnerships involving immigrant-serving organizations, those that currently deliver workforce or early childhood services, and others that serve low income communities of color. Participants also emphasized that creating and sustaining these partnerships requires that federal agencies and philanthropic funders must play a critical support role in providing resources.
  3. Building the New Mainstream Institutions to better serve immigrant families by increasing the capacity of organizations, creating accountability and transparency for what success looks like, and creating opportunities for collaboration.
  4. Thinking Both Big and Small by responding to today’s urgent concern in a way that supports far bigger change in the future: keep the focus simultaneously on immediate, incremental steps and an ambitious long-run vision.

This discussion of two-generational strategies to support immigrant families and children is all the more important given the current budget context at the federal level, with many key programs struggling to meet the needs of today’s families. For example, the Child Care and Development Block Grant is reaching the smallest number of children in 15 years, and the risk that services to immigrants will get worse, not better, is significant. In addition, as Congress delays action on immigration reform policies that would address the needs of immigrant families and as the federal courts continue to stall the implementation of key provisions in the President’s executive order to provide temporary relief for millions of immigrant parents of American children, it is urgent to provide the supports immigrant families need. Significant additional investment is needed to fully seize the important opportunities to support young children of immigrants and help immigrant adults succeed in their dual roles as parents and workers.

Read the brief >> 

Oct 6, 2015  |  PERMALINK »

Making a Difference for Poor Babies Using TANF: A Framework for States

By Elizabeth Lower-Basch and Stephanie Schmit

Americans overwhelmingly agree that children’s fate in life should not be determined by the circumstances in which they are bornBut children born into poor families are at great risk of persistent poverty during their childhood. A growing body of evidence shows that poverty in early childhood is a grave threat to children’s long-term health, well-being, and educational success, with persistent and deep poverty causing the most damage. A new CLASP report, TANF and the First Year of Life: Making a Difference at a Pivotal Moment, suggests an innovative framework for thinking about Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in the context of the first year of life, a vision for what a reformed TANF might look like, and concrete steps that states can begin taking right now to move their programs in this direction.

TANF offers an important, large-scale, high-impact opportunity to achieve two-generational goals for poor families with infants because:

  • TANF already reaches about a quarter million of the poorest families with babies or pregnant women, which is about half of deeply poor families with infants.
  • By its design, TANF is inherently a two-generational program, in that it is explicitly aimed at serving low-income families with children.
  • TANF is a block grant that gives states a great deal of flexibility in deciding which needy families to serve, what services to provide, and what to expect of recipients.

Today’s state TANF programs too often fall far short of their potential. Barriers to access, underfunded services, and work requirements that do not take the needs of infants into account hold parents back and make it harder for them to lift themselves and their babies out of poverty. For example, in 11 states, parents of infants under the age of one are subject to work requirements and could lose their entire family’s cash assistance benefit the first time they fail to meet work requirements.

But the growing evidence about the importance of the first year of life for children’s long-term success offers the opportunity to build a much stronger case than even just a few years ago for redesigning TANF programs to meet the developmental needs of infants in TANF families.

For the first time, the paper provides a framework grounded in the research about infant development and detailed data about TANF families and state policy options, to provide a wealth of practical ideas for state leaders. These ideas, organized into a package of foundational options for all states to consider, along with a set of more innovative options for states that have made strong progress on the foundations, include:

  • removing barriers that prevent pregnant women and parents of babies from accessing cash assistance;
  • redesigning work requirements to reflect the needs of infants and the realities of today’s low-wage labor market;
  • ensuring access to quality child care; and
  • building linkages to other programs and services, such as early childhood home visiting, health care, and nutritional supports.

Some states have already started to adopt more evidence-based and positive policies for TANF families. Minnesota repealed its family cap in 2013. Last year, Washington state set aside nearly $1 million from the TANF block grant to fund a pilot home visiting project targeting TANF recipients using evidence-based models already used in the state. The recent reauthorizations of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) require states to make a number of changes to how they deliver the services funded by these programs, and how they relate to TANF. This makes it an opportune time for states to think holistically about how these multiple programs serve the same families, and to re-envision TANF as a true two-generational anti-poverty program. 

site by Trilogy Interactive