ACF Announces Preliminary Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Grantees

From the Department of Health and Human Services:photosb

“HHS’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) today announced preliminary winners for its Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships grants to improve the quality of existing child care programs and expand access to high-quality care for infants and toddlers.

Thus far, 234 preliminary selected grant applicants in 49 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands will receive over $435 million in funding to help offer care and services to ensure that infants and toddlers have access to Early Head Start services in their communities.”

To read the release from the Administration for Children and Families, click here: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/media/press/new-hhs-grants-increase-improve-learning-opportunities-for-young-children

To see the full list of preliminary EHS-CC grantees, click here: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ecd/early-learning/ehs-cc-partnerships/grant-awardees

Appropriators Release Spending Bill for Fiscal Year 2015 (CRomnibus Edition)

Tonight, Senator Mikulski and Rep. Hal Rogers announced a spending agreement for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2015.  See the excerpt from the official summary released by the appropriators below for early childhood programs:

“The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee today released highlights of the fiscal year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill, “Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015,” that totals $1.014 trillion in discretionary spending in compliance with the bipartisan Murray-Ryan budget agreement. The bill funds the government through
September 30, 2015.

In addition, it includes: $5.4 billion of emergency funding to prepare for and respond to the Ebola outbreak; $73.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations; and $6.5 billion of disaster aid.”

“Supports Continued Investment in High-Quality Early Childhood Care and Education
High-quality early childhood care and education has been proven to have positive, lasting effects for children and families.  It also supports the nation’s long-term economic security by preparing our next generation of workers, entrepreneurs and business leaders. This bill supports the key federal investments in early childhood care and education, for children and their families from before birth through age five, including:

Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)—The bill includes $2.435 billion, a $75 million increase, for the CCDBG. In November, Congress overwhelmingly passed the CCDBG Act of 2014, the first reauthorization of the program since 1996. This reauthorization included key updates and reforms, including requiring states to strengthen health and safety standards. Improving the quality of child care programs while maintaining working families’ access to quality child care options will require significantly more resources, but the increase in funding for the CCDBG is an important step in helping states implement these key reforms and support working families’ access to quality, affordable child care.

Head Start—The bill includes $8.598 billion for Head Start, maintaining support for key investments in Head Start and Early Head Start, including Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, made last year.

Preschool Development Grants—The agreement provides $250 million to continue support for Preschool Development Grants. The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS) awards $250 million to states through grants designed to help states initiate or implement high-quality public preschool programs for low- and moderate-income families. The funding in this bill will support the second year of what is expected to be four year awards. Research is clear that the benefits of high-quality early childhood education programs exceed costs by varying but significant amounts”

The full summary can be found here: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/sites/default/files/12_09_14%20fy15%20omnibus%20summary.pdf

The full text of the bill can be found here: http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20141208/CPRT-113-HPRT-RU00-HR83sa.pdf

CCDBG Moving Forward – Helpful Resources on the New Law

teaserWith the signing of S.1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 into law, now the focus will shift to ensuring that those across the country which these changes will directly impact, are aware of when and how this law will affect them.  In order to assist states and child care resource and referral agencies across America, Child Care Aware of America will be providing resources to help provide a better understanding of what’s in the law and what changes are going to be necessary to be made.

In addition to our four-part CCDBG Moving Forward Webinar Series, which focused on implementation and concluded in early-November, Child Care Aware of America is excited to share new resources on CCDBG, including:

NEW RESOURCES for Implementation of new CCDBG Law:

CCDBG Moving Forward Resources:

One-Pagers/Subject Briefs:

Summary and Background
Timeline for Implementation
Impact on Child Care Resource and Referral Services
The Quality Set-Aside
Quality Rating and Improvement Systems
Health, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention

CCDBG Moving Foward Webinar Series Slides:

The history and current status of S.1086
What S.1086 means for families & child care providers
What S.1086 means for quality set aside and QRIS
Funding, appropriations, & timelines for implementation

To view any of the recorded webinars, check out our Youtube page:

http://www.youtube.com/user/CCAofAmerica

and much more to come!

Coming Soon!

  • Information on Funding and Appropriations
  • One-pager on Emergency Preparedness and Response
  • Answers to Frequently Asked Question about the New Law
  • White Papers on implementation and challenges

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

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

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 10.12.53 PM

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!

Congress Hears Call for Action, House and Senate Hold Hearings on Early Learning

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House Education and the Workforce Committee Hearing:

“As we examine the current federal early childhood education and care system this morning, my Republican colleagues and I believe we should discuss opportunities to streamline the mountain of existing federal programs, reduce regulatory burdens, and improve transparency to make it easier for providers and parents to understand their options. And above all, we must work together to ensure these programs are serving disadvantaged families first, consistent with the original intent of the federal investment in early childhood programs.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee recently took steps toward these fundamental goals with legislation to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant. As you know, CCDBG provides funds to states to help low-income families access quality child care, and has been due for reauthorization for over a decade. The Senate bill, approved by the committee late last year, includes several commonsense provisions that will help empower parents and enhance coordination between CCDBG and other federal early care and development programs, such as Head Start. I believe this proposal provides a solid foundation to begin related discussions in this committee, and look forward to working with my colleagues on this initiative in the coming months.”

- Excerpt from House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman Kline (R-MN)

“Greater child care and early education investments at the federal, state, and local levels are needed because low-income, working parents lack access, can’t afford services, and don’t have enough good choices. The future of our nation depends on turning this around and providing high-quality early learning for all children”

- Excerpt from House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA)

On Wednesday, February 6, 2014, the House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Congressman John Kline from Minnesota held a hearing on early childhood programs entitled “The Foundation for Success: Discussing Early Childhood Education and Care in America.”  The hearing featured a diverse witness list, including Ms. Kay E. Brown from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Dr. Russ Whitehurst from the Brookings Institution, Ms. Harriet Dichter from the Delaware Office of Early Learning, and Dr. Elanna S. Yalow, the Executive Director of Knowledge Universe Early Learning Programs.

The full hearing can be watched here: http://edworkforcehouse.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=230

More information about the hearing, including the testimonies for all of the witness and additional items can be found here:

http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=368759

After the opening statements from Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Miller, the witness presented their testimonies, starting off with Kay Brown and Russ Whitehurst, both of which emphasized their belief that the current early childhood system is far too complex, fragmented, and overlapping at times.

Ms. Brown stated that “Multiple agencies administer the federal investment in early learning and child care through multiple programs that sometimes have similar goals and are targeted to similar groups of children… the federal investment in these programs is fragmented [and] some of these programs overlap one another.”   In his testimony, Dr. Whitehurst added that “The question for me is not whether the federal government should support the learning and care of young children from economically disadvantaged homes and otherwise vulnerable status but how it should do so. The current system, a mishmash of 45 separate, incoherent, and largely ineffective programs, fails to serve the broader public and certainly is less than optimal for the children and families to which it is directed.”

Following Ms. Brown and Dr. Whitehurst, Dr. Yalow mentioned in her testimony that “This is an important and exciting time for early childhood education. Supported by research, there is a growing recognition of both the short and long-term benefits of high-quality early learning experiences on young children, including healthy brain development, school readiness, future success in school, as well as related positive economic and societal benefits.

With so much attention and focus on a child’s earliest years, it is critical that we get our policies right.  It is important that our investments focus on children who will benefit most; are fisccally responsible and sustainable; keep an eye towards possible adverse consequences of well-intentioned efforts; promote conintous program improvement and quality; recognize and respect that we cannot afford to displace the many qualified, expereinced, and dedicated teachers already serving our youngest citizens; and countinue to support and respect parental choice to meet the needs of individual children and families.”

After opening up for questions from some of the Committee members present, Harriet Dichter, Executive Director of the Delaware Office of Early Learning, presented her testimony.  Ms. Dichter mentioned that “The importance of the first years of life is critical- the experiences children have during this unique time set the stage for all aspects of development and learning. Because of the developmental significance of this time, the quality of early childhood programs for both children and families is essential to good outcomes.”

Following the testimony of all the witnesses, the Committee members pressed the witness on their statements, which focused on a variety of different aspects of early childhood programs including a discussion of whether or not the programs overlap and if that is necessary in some cases, what improving the quality of programs could and/or should entail, and what is the best way to reach the most vulnerable populations.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing:

The next day, Thursday, February 7th, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, chaired by Senator Harkin (D-IA) held a hearing entitled “Supporting Children and Families through Investments in High-Quality Early Education.”

The recording of the full hearing, testimonies, and additional documents can be found here:

http://www.help.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=e5fb765e-5056-a032-52c8-f2185f378db1

For the Senate hearing, the witnesses included:

  • Dr. Hirokazu Yoshikawa , Courtney Sale Ross University Professor of Globalization Education at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University, New York, NY
  • Mr. John White , State Superintendent for Louisiana Department of Education, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Ms. Danielle Ewen , Director of the Office of Early Childhood Education, District of Columbia Public Schools, Washington, DC
  • Ms. Charlotte M. Brantley , President and CEO of Clayton Early Learning, Denver, CO

Dr. Yoshkikawa provided a technical and in-depth testimony regarding the overwhelming benefits of quality early education programs and the positive effects on socio-emotional, language, literacy, and mathematical skills.  John White from the Louisiana Department of Education followed up by stating that “Often the debate over investing in early childhood education comes down to study against study, each claiming an absolute truth about the effectiveness of an initiative that spans hundreds of thousands of young lives in disparate settings. I think – and our state proves – that it’s time we get beyond this debate. Early education can be life changing for low-income children when it is done well, and when quality is sustained in the grades that follow. Done poorly, like anything else, its effects are limited. But done well, it is a potent arrow in the quivers of those fighting the effects of inequality and poverty.”

Ms. Ewen, who heads the DC Office of Early Childhood Education, while discussing the importance of layered funding models, stated that “With the blended model, we are able to provide high quality comprehensive services to many more children who can benefit, with the same level of grant funding. This has created a unified early childhood system where all children in our classrooms receive the same quality of programming regardless of whether the program is called Head Start or pre-kindergarten.”

Ms. Ewen added that “For DCPS, implementation of the Act[Pre-K Enactment and Expansion Act, 2008] was a critical turning point in our efforts to improve outcomes for our children. We are now both the largest single provider of services for three- and four-year-old children and of Head Start-eligible children in the District of Columbia.”

Charlotte b claytonLastly, Ms. Brantley, who runs a non-profit early learning organization in Denver, Colorado, emphasized the importance of both state and federal commitments to funding early learning programs, said “Effective collaborations, such as those with school districts, create the systems to support children’s success. We know first-hand that early childhood education at the community level through programs such as CPP strengthens the public-private partnerships between school districts, community-based programs, and Head Start programs. We fully support continued encouragement of such partnerships to leverage all of the early care and education resources in local communities to create high quality choices for parents to help their children succeed.”

The hearing ended following questions, both technical and philosophical regarding the nature of early childhood investments and the best way to ensure that any federal funds spent on early learning are spent in the most efficient and beneficial way to the children and families that need them.