House, President Propose Budgets: Divergent Views on Early Childhood Funding

February 14, 2011 | Hannah Matthews and Danielle Ewen

House Proposes Significant Cuts For FY 2011

Over the weekend, the House of Representatives released proposed drastic spending cuts, totaling $100 billion, for the remainder of FY 2011. Among these proposed cuts:

  • A $39 million cut to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)
  • A $1.08 billion cut to Head Start (15 percent of current funding)
  • A $100 million cut to 21st Century Community Learning Centers and
  • Elimination of the Even Start program.

Last year, Congress failed to pass a budget, leaving a temporary spending provision in place until March 4. Congress must pass a FY 2011 budget by that time to avoid a government shutdown. The House will consider the proposed FY 2011 budget this week. The Senate has not yet released its budget proposal for FY 2011. CLASP will work with others to fight these harmful cuts that symbolize the old saying "pennywise and pound foolish."  While it is important to begin a serious conversation about the size of the debt and the deficit, we also need to understand the impacts of cuts on the economy, as well as on children and families. Research has shown that when children participate in Head Start, they are more likely to succeed in school, less likely to be held back or need special education services, and more likely to graduate and attend college. Yet the House proposal will prevent 218,000 children living in poverty from having these opportunities. Additional services for low-income families that support the healthy development of children are also at risk.

President Proposes Priorities For FY 2012

Meanwhile, today, President Obama released his budget proposal for FY 2012, the first step in the FY 2012 budget cycle, which begins October 1. The document offers a blueprint of the president's spending priorities for the coming year. The president's budget offers a path toward deficit reduction and proposes significant cuts to federal spending as well. Many of the president's proposed cuts will also slash spending for services and programs that support low-income families. These cuts come at a time when low-income families are still reeling from the recent recession.

The president's blueprint does, however, recognize the importance of child care and early education and includes proposed increases for both CCDBG ($1.3 billion) and Head Start ($866 million). These funds will ensure that children receiving services with economic recovery (ARRA) funds  continue to benefit as those funds go away. Among other proposals, the budget blueprint includes $350 million for a proposed Early Learning Challenge Fund that as of yet has not been passed into law, and $23 million to support state efforts to implement paid Family Leave programs. 

In the context of a large federal deficit, severe state revenue crises, and unacceptably high unemployment, the president's budget strikes a delicate balance and recognizes that a key to shared, long-term economic prosperity is ensuring families have the supports and tools they need to endure tough economic times. One key area of support critical for struggling families and our country's future is funding for child care and early education. The president's budget sends a message that investing in child care and Head Start helps parents keep the jobs they need to succeed financially and benefits our country by investing in vulnerable children-the human capital of tomorrow. It's time for the House and Senate to also consider the critical role of child care and early education services for our country's economic prosperity.

The president has identified early childhood programs as a priority for his Administration. Yet, the House plan to cut drastically in FY 2011 without thought for the current or future needs of our youngest children places our programs at risk, today. The House proposal must be defeated if we are to move forward successfully as a nation.

site by Trilogy Interactive