President's Budget Includes Promising News for Early Childhood
February 14, 2012 | Hannah Matthews
On Monday, President Obama released his budget blueprint, laying out his priorities for FY 2013, which begins October 1. His budget offers a vision for the country that includes a long-term reduction in the federal deficit while making investments in the short-term, including through education and workforce programs that bolster the economic recovery and get Americans back to work. The proposal includes changes to the tax code, including reducing tax credits for the wealthy and extending critical tax credits for low-income families.
The President's budget follows the template created by the Budget Control Act, which cut discretionary spending by $900 billion for the next ten years. Within that budgetary constraint, the President proposes some modest increases in funding for several early childhood programs:
- An $825 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), comprised of $325 million in discretionary funding and $500 million in mandatory funding (through approval of the Ways and Means and Finance Committees). Budget documents propose that $300 million of the discretionary funding be used for quality improvement grants to states. A portion of these funds would go to states in the form of formula grants and a portion would be for competitive grants.These funds would be in addition to the requirement for states to spend a minimum of 4 percent of CCDBG funds on quality activities.
- An $85 million increase for Head Start and Early Head Start to support the Office of Head Start's designation renewal process and cost-of-living increases. According to the Administration, these funds will maintain the current number of children served.
- A $20 million increase for the IDEA Part C services for infants and toddlers.
- $850 million for Race to the Top, including some portion of funding to be used for the Early Learning Challenge.
- $100 million for the Promise Neighborhoods initiative.
- $5 million to support Paid Family Leave in states.
The budget also includes some challenges for child care and early education, including flat funding of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, of which some funds are used for early education, IDEA preschool grants, and 21st Century Community Schools.
Following the President's proposal, the budget debate will now move to Congress where the House and Senate will have the opportunity to include investments in child care and early education in their respective budgets.