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.