BREAKING: President Obama Signs CCDBG Reauthorization Bill into Law

Today, President Barack Obama signed S.1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 into law.

The legislation most recently passed the United States Senate by a vote of 88-1 on Monday, November 17, 2014 following a multi-year process taking the bill through both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  In June 2013, Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Burr (R-NC), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced S.1086, then titled the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2013, a bill that would reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant program for the first time in almost two decades, while including some baseline safety and quality measures.

S.1086 includes measures to:

  • Promote quality child care by increasing state-level investments in activities to improve the quality of care, enhancing states’ ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services.
  • Strengthen health and safety requirements in child care programs and providers.
  • Improve access to child care by expanding eligibility for participating families and helping families connect with quality programs that meet their needs

Later in 2013, in September, S.1086 passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee by an unanimous consent voice vote, sending the bill to the full Senate for consideration.  In March of 2014, after days of debate and considering amendments (18 in total adopted), the Senate passed S.1086 by a vote of 96-2, sending the bill forward to the House of Representatives for consideration.  After months of investigation, discussion, and negotiation, leaders on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and the Senate HELP Committee announced an agreement on an amended version of S.1086, which would pass the House of Representatives the following Monday, sending the bill back to the Senate for final consideration.

After experiencing procedural roadblocks in mid-September, preventing a potential unanimous consent agreement, the Senate moved forward to consideration of the amended S.1086 on November 13, 2014, passing  a cloture vote by a 96-1 margin, setting up the final vote on Monday, November 17, 2014.

Nick Vucic, Lynette Fraga, Senator Burr, Michelle McCready

Child Care Aware(R) of America presenting Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) with an award in honor of dedicated work on CCDBG Reauthorization earlier this year. From left to right: Nick Vucic, Lynette Fraga, Senator Burr, Michelle McCready

Helpful resources for understanding impact of CCDBG Reauthorization becoming law:

For more information on CCDBG Reauthorization: http://usa.childcareaware.org/public-policy/core-issues/ccdbg-reauthorization

Including:

- One page Summary of House-Passed S.1086

- Full text of S.1086

- One page summary of the program

For links to recordings for all four of our CCDBG Moving Forward Webinar Series: Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 11.25.12 AM

http://www.youtube.com/CCAofAmerica

As we continue to move forward assessing and analyzing the impact of S.1086 becoming law, stay tuned to Child Care Aware of America, as we will be providing frequent resources on the impact and implications of implementation.

BREAKING: Congress Sends Bi-Partisan Child Care Bill to President

For the first time in 18 years, Congress has passed CCDBG Reauthorization, as the bill now awaits President Obama’s signature to become law.

Today, the Senate voted to pass S.1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 led by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC) and Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita (R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA)

In September, the House approved the measure by a voice vote, sending the amended version of the bill the Senate originally passed 96-2 in March 2014.

S.1086 includes measures to:

  • Promote quality child care by increasing state-level investments in activities to improve the quality of care, enhancing states’ ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services.
  • Strengthen health and safety requirements in child care programs and providers.
  • Improve access to child care by expanding eligibility for participating families and helping families connect with quality programs that meet their needs.

Learn more about the Child Care and Development Block Grant

Now that Congress has passed the bill, it heads to the President’s desk for his signature to become law.

CCDBG Roundup: Everything you need to know for Thursday

DSC08585For the first time in 18 years, the US Senate will have the opportunity to pass a reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, the primary federal program that provides assistance for families for child care, containing measures to improve the quality of child care nationwide.

On Thursday, November 13th, the US Senate will take up final consideration of S.1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. 

Starting in 2013 and continuing through 2014, working to improve and expand child care programs and legislation has taken center stage with some federal developments that have emphasized access to quality early learning opportunities for children and families.  In May 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services released a Notice of Proposed Rule-Making on the Child Care and Development Fund, proposing significant regulatory changes to many child care measures, ranging from health and safety improvements to modifications to the subsidy and eligibility aspects of the program.  In June 2013, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee introduced a bill to reauthorize the long-expired (last reauthorized in 1996, funding authorization expired in 2002) Child Care and Development Block Grant Program, which passed the full Senate in March 2014.   The House of Representatives passed an amended version of the bill on September 15, 2014, sending it to the Senate for final passage.

Timeline of S.1086 in Congress:

June 3, 2013: Senator Mikulski (D-MD), Senator Burr (R-NC), Senator Harkin (D-IA), and Senator Alexander (R- TN) Introduce S.1086, a bill to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

September 18, 2013: The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passes S.1086 out of committee by unanimous consent via voice vote.

March 12, 2014: The Senate begins debate on S.1086.

March 13, 2014: After adopting multiple amendments, Senate passes S.1086 by a vote of 96-2.

September 12, 2014: Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita (R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC) announce bi-partisan, bicameral agreement to reauthorize CCDBG.

September 15, 2014: House of Representatives pass amended version of S.1086 by a voice vote

Helpful resources for Senate action on CCDBG:

To watch the proceedings live on Thursday: http://www.c-span.org/live/?channel=c-span-2

To contact your Senator and let them know you support S.1086: http://capwiz.com/naccrra/issues/alert/?alertid=63313171

For more information on CCDBG Reauthorization: http://usa.childcareaware.org/public-policy/core-issues/ccdbg-reauthorization

Including:

 – One page Summary of House-Passed S.1086

- Full text of S.1086

- One page summary of the program

For links to recordings for all four of our CCDBG Moving Forward Webinar Series: http://www.youtube.com/CCAofAmerica

To follow along live on Twitter, stay tuned to www.twitter.com/usachildcare

The fight for quality child care continues in November (CCDBG Reauthorization Update)

Friday, September 12, 2014, House and Senate leaders reached a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. Negotiated by Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita (R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC), the agreement will enhance transparency, strengthen health and safety protections, and improve the quality of care.

After the original bill was introduced in the Senate on June 3, 2013, the Senate voted to pass S.1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) of 2014 on March 13th, 2014 by a vote of 96-2 and the House passed the amended version of the bill on September 15, 2014.

timeline

Timeline of S.1086 in Congress:

June 3, 2013: Senator Mikulski (D-MD), Senator Burr (R-NC), Senator Harkin (D-IA), and Senator Alexander (R- TN) Introduce S.1086, a bill to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Continue reading

Guest Blog: An Intern Bids Farewell

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By: Amanda Cappelletti

As summer draws to end, so does my health policy internship with Child Care Aware of America. Reflecting on the past ten weeks, it is hard to believe how much I have learned and how much I have done. I went from stopping to think “Child Care and Development Block Grant” before saying “CCDBG” to it rolling off my tongue. I attended webinars and subcommittee calls, in the office, and got out of the office for briefings on the Hill.

                The first few days I was at the office, my head was buried in books and various publications and presentations about the child care sphere. My third day, I attended a CCDBG briefing on the in Hill in the morning and sat through a webinar in the afternoon. It did not take long for my calendar to fill up with subcommittee calls, webinars and briefings:  attend this, take notes on that. I quickly became well-versed with the current legal state of early care and education as well as becoming well-versed with the health initiatives and policies.

                One of the first subcommittee calls I sat in on was Farm to Preschool (F2P). I remember someone saying that family child care homes and small centers have a hard time participating in the program because they simply lacked the buying power to make it economical or to entice farmers to work with them. This one comment inspired my research for the summer. I was determined to figure out how to use already existing infrastructure to make F2P economical for family child care homes and small centers, and enticing for farmers to work with them. Now, I am writing a policy paper suggesting how Pennsylvania might leverage its resources so that F2P can be a success.

                My research connected me with professionals, all across the nation (and some who teach at Temple University, which I am currently attending!), dedicated to improving health and wellness policies in early care and education. They provided guidance and materials to help with my research. Hopefully, those have also become life long career connections.

                My research also led me to other webinars and briefings that I was encouraged to attend. There are two that stand out for me. The first is a TEDMED talk, Great Challenges:  A Candid Conversation About Childhood Obesity. This particular talk stands out because Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), spoke and answered questions. RWJF is a leading contributor to researching childhood obesity, and supporting health and wellness initiatives in early care and education. This talk also stood out because Don Schwarz, the former Health Commissioner and Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity in Philadelphia, spoke. Under his commission, childhood obesity in the city, declined nearly 5 percent! Not only did I feel a sense of pride, being from that area of Pennsylvania, it gave me hope; if Philadelphia can do it, so can other towns, cities, and states!

                I was also able to attend a briefing at the Senate Building, Improving Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Early Care and Education:  Commitments, Challenges and Accomplishments, my exact topic of choice! At this event, two individuals running food and nutrition policies in child care centers spoke about how they have succeeded in implementing healthy menus. Two other experts, Debbie Chang of Nemours and Dr. William Dietz from George Washington University, spoke about the prevalence of obesity and the need for children to eat healthy meals and snacks. This talk reminded me, that although there is hope, there is still a long way to go.

                And it is a long way back to Philadelphia. It is hard to believe I am returning to classes in the upcoming weeks. However, thanks to my time at Child Care Aware of America, I return to classes, remembering why I decided to go back to school. I return refueled with passion for children’s health and wellness policies.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Approves Funding Increase for Early Childhood Programs

On Tuesday, June 10th, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Related Agencies held a markup on the Fiscal Year 2015 spending bill for the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill.

The subcommittee, chaired by retiring Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) approved the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bill that provides $156,773,000,000 in base discretionary budget authority, the same as the FY 2014 level. In addition, the bill includes $1,484,000,000 in cap adjustment funding, permitted under the law, a $560,000,000 increase, to prevent waste, fraud, abuse and improper payments in the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs.

Harkin heralded the investment in early childhood programs the bill sought to make, stating “This is the bill that invests in America and allows us to respond to the changing needs of our country, all within a difficult budget.  I am particularly encouraged that the bill directs funding to investments in high-quality early childhood care and education, which have been proven to have positive, lasting effects on children and families.”

The spending bill provides a combined increase of $348,327,000 for key early childhood care and education programs; Head Start, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Preschool Development Grants, and IDEA Grants for Infants and Families. Together, they address the entire age range of birth through age five.

The main highlights of the bill include:

Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)—The Committee recommendation includes $2,458,246,000, a $100,000,000 increase, for the CCDBG

Head Start— The Committee recommendation includes $8,742,845,000, a $145,000,000 increase, for Head Start. 

Preschool Development GrantsThe Committee recommends $350,000,000, an increase of $100,000,000, to continue support for Preschool Development Grants. 

Early Childhood Statewide Longitudinal Data SystemsThe Committee recommends $34,539,000, the same amount as the current year, for statewide longitudinal data systems.

The full committee will meet later this week, with House action yet to take place on the funding levels for the same programs.

Oklahoma CCR&R Director to Testify at House Committee Hearing on CCDBG Reauthorization

The House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Representative John Kline (R-MN) recently announced that the Committee will hold a hearing on CCDBG Reauthorization after the Senate approved legislation by a vote of 96-2 to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program.

Chairman Kline released this statement following the passage of the Senate bill:

“Senate passage of legislation to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant is a step forward in the shared goal of strengthening the nation’s existing network of early childhood services. The bill includes several commonsense provisions that will help empower parents and enhance coordination between CCDBG and other federal early care programs, such as Head Start. The committee will convene a hearing on March 25, 2014 to examine House priorities for CCDBG, and I look forward to a productive discussion as we work to find common ground and complete the reauthorization of this important program.”

During the hearing, the Committee members will hear from 4 panelists, including Paula Koos, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Child Care Resource & Referral Association, Inc.

The hearing will take place on March 25th, 2014 at 10am Eastern. 

To learn more about the hearing, click here.

To watch a live webcast of the hearing, click here.

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes CCDBG Reauthorization Bill: Day 2 Recap

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 11.21.44 PMIn an effort to significantly improve the quality of child care across the nation and to prove that it is possible for the Senate to work in regular order, in a bipartisan manner.  By a vote of 96-2, the Senate approved S.1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, turning the focus over to the House of Representatives for action.

The Senators voting in favor of passage for the bill included 53 Democrats, 42 Republicans, and 2 Independents.  Only Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) voted against the measure, while Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) did not vote on the bill.

Throughout the second day of Senator floor consideration for S.1086, the Senate adopted 10 amendments covering a wide-range of topics related to the bill.  Nine of the amendments were adopted by voice vote, while only one of the amendments was adopted by a roll call vote, Senator Coburn’s measure to help ensure that child care assistance is not being supplied to those with an income greater than $1 million annually.

The country has definitely taken notice as the passage of the bipartisan S.1086 has led headlines. To read more about the media’s take on the passage of the bill, check out this article from Politico – Senate passes child care bill

While passage out of the Senate was an important step forward to improving the quality of child care, the process is far from finished as the House of Representatives will be pressured to take action.  The good news is that the prospects coming out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee have seemingly increased the odds that CCDBG Reauthorization will be looked at in this upcoming year.

Today, immediately following the passage of S.1086 out of the Senate, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman Rep. John Kline (R-MN) released this statement:

“Senate passage of legislation to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant is a step forward in the shared goal of strengthening the nation’s existing network of early childhood services. The bill includes several commonsense provisions that will help empower parents and enhance coordination between CCDBG and other federal early care programs, such as Head Start. The committee will convene a hearing on March 25, 2014 to examine House priorities for CCDBG, and I look forward to a productive discussion as we work to find common ground and complete the reauthorization of this important program.”

This is a huge win for working families in this country.  This bill contains many common-sense measures for helping protect children in child care, such as requiring providers to undergo comprehensive background checks, ensuring annual inspections are conducted and requiring childcare providers receive training on CPR, first aid, and safe sleep practices.

We are one step closer to ensuring children are safe and receiving quality early learning experiences while in child care. The research is clear, children’s early years are proven to be the most important time to create strong learners. This bill sets the standard families expect for their children.

Please join us to thank the Senate for standing up for children and working families by voting yes to reauthorize CCDBG.

Click here to thank your Senator for voting Yes on S.1086

Senate Takes Up CCDBG Reauthorization: Day 1 Recap

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) kicked off the floor action on the bill earlier this morning and stated, “In the two decades since this important program was last authorized, we’ve learned a great deal about the importance of early childhood education and high-quality child care. This bipartisan measure builds on that knowledge, it updates health and safety standards for child-care centers and requires providers to undergo comprehensive background checks.”  After moving onto roll-call votes for nominations and finishing those votes, the four Senators leading the effort took the floor for their opening remarks:

Excerpts from the remarks:

“Each year, the Child Care and Development Block Grant program helps more than 1.5 million low-income children nationwide, including 39,000 in Tennessee, have the kind of early learning and care that can help put them on the same starting line as other children.  The program works because it supports parents going to work or getting an education, and gives them the freedom to choose the child care that is right for their family.”-       Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

“Every family in America with children is concerned about child care. They wonder if it’s available. They wonder if it’s affordable. They worry if it’s safe. And they’re also concerned if it helps their children be ready to learn.  These worries weigh heavily on the shoulders of parents everywhere. Our bill helps lift that burden – giving families and children the child care they need.  This bill, as I said, is the product of bipartisan effort.  Child care is something all families worry about regardless of zip code or income. This bill ensures that all children have the care that they need and deserve. What we did was focus on what these needs are. “-       Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the rest of the speech in its entirety can be seen here.

Senator Richard Burr’s (R-NC) Floor Speech in its entirety can be seen here.

Status of Amendments:

As a bipartisan bill from the beginning, working through regular order, S. 1086 has become seen as a beacon of hope for the Senate to return to regular order as the norm, not the exception.  To encourage participation throughout the Upper Chamber, Senators Burr and Mikulski pushed their colleagues to submit related amendments to the bill for a quality discussion on where the bill could stand to improve.  By day’s end, the number of submitted amendments for S.1086 totaled around 20, with some already receiving debate and votes.  The following list will provide background on the amendment, the sponsors of that amendment, and whether any action was taken on that amendment.

The Amendments:
 
No.  2805
Sponsors: Fischer (R-NE), King (I-ME), Rubio (R-FL)
Summary: Would limit the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to regulate non-diagnostic medical software
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2807
Sponsors: Gillibrand (D-NY)
Summary:  Would allow for tax deduction of child care expenses of up to $7,000 for 1 qualifying child and up to $14,000 for 2 or more qualifying children.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2808
Sponsors: Murphy (D-CT)
Summary:  Would increase dollar limitation on tax exclusion for employer-provided dependent care assistance.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2809
Sponsors: Boxer (D-CA), Burr (R-NC)
Summary: Would amend Section 231 of the Crime Control Act of 1990 by enhancing background check requirements for individuals working with children.  The Boxer/Burr Amendment would apply the same comprehensive background check requirement to federal lands that S. 1086 requires of states.
Actions: Adopted by Voice Vote
 
No.  2810
Sponsors: Boxer (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY)
Summary:  Would make changes to the IRS Tax Code by provides increases to the Employer-provided Child Care Credit and the Dependent Care Credit, creating a new credit for individuals holding child care-related degrees who work in licensed child care facilities, and a credit for providers who meet certain measures.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2811
Sponsors: Harkin (D-IA)
Summary: Would clarify “rural and remote areas” as underserved populations.
Actions: Submitted, Harkin (D-IA) submitted substitute, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2812
Sponsors:  Enzi (R-WY)
Summary:  Would require the Department of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with the Department of Education to conduct a review of all early learning and care programs to develop a plan to eliminate duplicative and overlapping programs and make recommendations for streamlining all programs.  Report would be due to Congress within 1 year of enactment.
Actions:  Adopted 98-0
 
No.  2813
Sponsors: Landrieu (D-LA), Grassley (R-IA), Inhofe (R-OK)
Summary:  Would allow children in foster care to receive services under the CCDBG Act while their families (including foster families) are taking necessary action to comply with immunization and other health and safety
Actions:  Adopted by Voice Vote
 
No.  2814
Sponsors: Landrieu (D-LA), Blunt (R-KS), Inhofe (R-OK)
Summary:  Would require the state plan to describe how the state will coordinate the services supported to carry out the CCDBG Act with state agencies and programs serving children in foster care and the foster families of such children
Actions:  Adopted by Voice Vote
 
No.  2815
Sponsors: Landrieu (D-LA), Inhofe (R-OK)
Summary: Would require the state plan to describe how the state will develop and       implement strategies to increase the supply and improve the quality of child care with state agencies and programs serving children in foster care and the foster families of such children.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2816
Sponsors: Landrieu (D-LA)
Summary:  Would require each child care staff member providing direct services to children has earned a degree, which may be an associate’s degree or a baccalaureate degree, in early childhood education or a closely related field; and on and after a provided date, the child care provider will hire only individuals who have earned that degree.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2817
Sponsors: Landrieu (D-LA)
Summary:  Would not more than 1% be reserved for the Secretary to conduct a “Quality and effectiveness evaluation,” which would evaluate the quality and effectiveness of activities carried out, using scientifically valid research methodologies, in order to increase the understanding of State and local program administrators concerning the practices and strategies most likely to produce positive outcomes.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2818
Sponsors: Landrieu (D-LA), Mikulski (D-MD)
Summary:  Would require that the State plan shall demonstrate the manner in which the State will address the needs of children in child care services provided through programs authorized under this subchapter, including the need for safe child care, during the period before, during, and after a state of emergency declared by the Governor or a major disaster or emergency.  Would include a statewide child care disaster plan for coordination of activities and collaboration between among the State agency with jurisdiction over human services, the agency with jurisdiction over State emergency planning, the State lead agency, the State agency with jurisdiction over licensing of child care providers, the local resource and referral organizations, the State resource and referral system, and the State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care.
Actions: Adopted 98-0
 
No.  2819
Sponsors: Scott (R-SC)
Summary: To clarify that nothing in this bill shall be construed or applied in any manner that would favor or promote the use of grants and contracts over the use of child care certificates; or that would disfavor or discourage the use of such certificates for the purchase of child care services, including those services provided by private or nonprofit entities, such as faith-based provider.
Actions:  See Senate Amendment no. 2837.
  
 
No.  2820
Sponsors: Lee (R-UT)
Summary: Would require each parent, who applies for assistance for child care services for a child to include the name and valid identification number of the child on the application, which could include a social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration.
Actions: Submitted, no vote currently scheduled
 
No.  2821
Sponsors: Lee (R-UT)
Summary:  Would prohibit states from reporting information to the federal government that contains personally identifiable information
Actions: Adopted by Voice Vote
 
No.  2822
Sponsors: Franken (D-MN)
Summary: Would set aside at least 2 percent of funds appropriated each fiscal year for Child Care and Development Block Grants for payments to American Indian tribes and tribal organizations.
Actions: Adopted 93-6
 
No.  2824
Sponsors: Bennett (D-CO)
Summary: Would require states that combine funding for child care block grants with other federal early childhood education programs — including Head Start and programs assisting low-income children, those that are homeless or those with disabilities — to describe how it will they will use the combined funding.
Actions: Adopted by Voice Vote
 
No.  2837
Sponsors: Scott (R-SC)
Summary: See Senate Amendment no. 2819
Actions: Adopted by Voice Vote
 

Tomorrow’s Floor Schedule and Timing

The Senate will reconvene Thursday morning at 9:30am and continue voting on amendments.  Although Senate Majority Leader Reid mentioned that the vote may not occur until next week, Senators Burr and Mikulski have strongly stated that they expect the vote to happen Thursday around 2:00pm Eastern.  We will keep you updated with all of the relevant information as it comes available.

To keep up with the action as it happens, you can watch the C-SPAN feed here or follow our twitter feed at @usachildcare.

It’s your last chance to let your Senators know that they need to support S.1086.

Take Action Now!

Obama Administration Releases FY2015 Budget with Commitment to Early Learning

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This week, the Obama administration released its $3 trillion-plus 2015 budget, calling again for a significant commitment to high quality, early childhood opportunities for young children.  This is the sixth budget from President Obama and the second time he has put early childhood high among his priorities.

In addition to calling upon Congress to enact his historic Preschool proposal, the President’s budget would increase Head Start by $270 million, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships by $150 million, Preschool Development grants by $500 million, and CCDBG would be increased by $57 million, serving 74,000 more children than in 2014.  Also, and importantly, $200 million of the Child Care and Development Fund would be dedicated to helping states raise the bar on quality by developing better health and safety standards, improving and increasing provider training, and improving parental access to information.

The 2015 budget proposal also recognizes the significant cost barrier for many families seeking access to high quality child care in their communities.  The President’s budget includes an expansion of the child and dependent care tax credit targeted at families with children under five years old, providing an average tax cut of $600 to at least 1.7 million families.

While the President’s budget is not expected to be acted upon this year, it was important for the White House to set forth their visionary goals and statement of our values and priorities as a Nation.   These goals will inform members of congress and especially appropriators as they begin their work for the next fiscal year’s funding.  The fact that in this challenging fiscal environment, early childhood was one of the few “winners” in the budget should not be ignored.  The President, and indeed many in Congress, recognize that our economic future depends on the next generation and that we either invest now, or pay the consequences later.

Our nation simply cannot afford to continue the present course where parents can’t find quality programs for their children, or when they do they can’t afford them. We cannot continue down the present path where fewer than one-third of 4-year olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program.  If America wants to lead, we need to begin to lead with our young by making the up-front investments known to be critical for lifelong success.

Stephanie Monroe, Senior Policy Advisor with Child Care Aware of America