Strengthening the Federal Investment in Early Childhood Education
Comments of Matthew Melmed, Executive Director, ZERO TO THREE Submitted to the Chairman, Committee on Education and the Workforce U.S. House of Representatives June 1, 2015
On March 4, 2014, the President released a budget laying out a proposal for spending priorities for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015). Both through investments and revenue proposals, the President’s FY 2015 budget signals increased awareness of the need to support working families with very young children. The budget continues to elevate early learning as a national priority by proposing to build on the FY 2014 appropriations gains and fund the balance of last year’s Presidential early learning initiative. This analysis examines the funding levels in the FY 2015 budget across agencies for the programs and services that impact infants, toddlers, and their families. It uses the perspective of supporting the interrelated aspects of positive, healthy development of infants and toddlers—good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences. Today’s young children are the key to the long-term security and global competitiveness of our country. How we support their development now will determine the strength of our nation in the future.
The fiscal year 2014 (FY 2014) Omnibus Appropriations bill, which President Obama signed into law on January 17, 2014, provides an important signal by prioritizing the early development and learning of young children during a time of tight budgets. Concerns remain, however, as overall discretionary spending is lower than 5 years ago. Much work is needed to stop the erosion of this area of the budget and ensure adequate funding for the array of programs beyond early care and learning that also support healthy development of young children and their families. While some funding cut by the 2013 sequester (across-the-board cuts) was restored, many programs still fall short of their original 2013 levels. Taking inflation into account would show that their ability to provide services has been significantly diminished. Read our analysis of the spending bill from the perspective of supporting all aspects needed for positive, healthy development of infants and toddlers—good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences.
The President’s 2014 budget would restore for FY 2014 cuts made by the FY 2013 sequester, or across-the-board cuts. The majority of programs for young children would be returned to their FY 2012 levels. The President’s budget includes substantial investments in early learning. Recognizing that the beginning years of a child’s life are critical for building the early foundation needed for success later in school and in life—and that high-quality early learning programs can help level the playing field on vocabulary and social and emotional development for children from lower-income families—the budget reflects the series of new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for children beginning at birth and continuing to age 5. This analysis examines the budget from the perspective of support for the healthy development of infants and toddlers, who are the key to long-term security and global competitiveness of our country.
A Developmental Approach to Child Welfare Services for Infants, Toddlers, and Their Families: A Self-Assessment Tool for States and Counties Administering Child Welfare Services
As a companion piece to A Call to Action on Behalf of Maltreated Infants and Toddlers, this comprehensive assessment tool helps states and counties examine ways to embed a quality, developmental approach to serving infants and toddlers in the child welfare system, as well as meet the new federal requirements for state child welfare plans. Leading child welfare and early childhood organizations (Center for the Study of Social Policy, Child Trends, Children’s Defense Fund, National Black Child Development Institute, National Council of La Raza, and Voices for America’s Children) collaborated with ZERO TO THREE in the creation of this important tool.
Making It Happen: Overcoming Barriers to Providing Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health
This article is intended to illuminate the scientific evidence for I-ECMH policies; examine issues faced by national, state, and local program directors and mental health practitioners in providing I-ECMH services; and propose a set of recommendations for policy improvements at the federal level.
What's in the Budget for Babies? : Analysis of the President's 2013 Budget Proposal
The President proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2013 holds promise as well as challenges for programs that benefit young children. The promise comes in the form of resources for improving the quality of early care and learning programs, as well as a child welfare reform initiative that would create financial incentives for improving outcomes for children. The challenges posed by the budget reflect the current era of austerity, making it difficult to find room for investments in a time of scarce resources. On the other side of the ledger are proposed deep cuts in energy assistance and community services. Many other programs for children and families would receive no increases, continuing the flat funding of recent years. This analysis examines the budget from the perspective of support for the healthy development of infants and toddlers, who are the key to long-term security and global competitiveness of our country.
Including Infants and Toddlers in the Early Learning Challenge (ELC)
The ELC offers an opportunity to increase the number of disadvantaged children, birth to five, in high-quality early childhood settings and to create and enhance state integrated early learning systems. This PowerPoint developed by the ZERO TO THREE Policy Center emphasizes the importance of supporting early learning beginning from birth and provides information on how the unique needs of infants and toddlers can be addressed in each of the five selection criteria.
Early Learning Challenge (ELC) Resource List
The ELC offers an opportunity to increase the number of disadvantaged children, birth to five, in high-quality early childhood settings and to create and enhance state integrated early learning systems. This annotated bibliography includes resources from the ZERO TO THREE Policy Center and the National Infant & Toddler Child Care Initiative at ZERO TO THREE. The resources are organized by the ELC selection criteria to best provide assistance in how areas affecting infants and toddlers align with each of the criteria.
A Call to Action on Behalf of Maltreated Infants and Toddlers
A Call to Action represents the collective vision of leading child welfare and early childhood development organizations on the important steps that can and should be taken in policies, programs, and practices to address the needs of vulnerable infants and toddlers who come to the attention of the child welfare system. The policy agenda is intended to provide a starting point for policymakers at all levels of government in creating a response to these special needs. It first presents the compelling evidence for addressing the needs of infants and toddlers in the child welfare system, and then suggests key elements of a developmental approach for this vulnerable population. Organizations joining with ZERO TO THREE to create the policy agenda and urge action include American Humane Association, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Child Welfare League of America, and Children’s Defense Fund.
ZERO TO THREE Priorities for Early Childhood in the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) presents an important opportunity to highlight the role of early childhood developmental experiences in preparing young children from birth to be confident and successful learners when they enter Kindergarten. ZERO TO THREE priorities include maintaining local ability to use ESEA funds to support early childhood services; requiring data collection on how local educational agencies are using Title I funds for early childhood; promoting joint professional development for early childhood and early elementary school educators; ensuring literacy provisions include infants and toddlers; and requiring coordination between the K-12 system and early childhood programs.
Analysis of House FY11 Continuing Resolution
The House Continuing Resolution for FY 2011 proposed by the Republican leadership would make deep cuts in funding for many programs that help support the health and development of infants and toddlers. Most notably, it would cut Head Start/Early Head Start by $1.1 billion below funding levels for 2010 appropriations. Moreover, the bill would not continue the funds provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for either Head Start/EHS or child care. As a result, as many as 368,000 children could lose child care, Head Start, or Early Head Start services. This number includes at least 50,000 babies in Early Head Start. In this analysis, ZERO TO THREE indicates the amount of cuts proposed for federal programs within good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences. It then provides further details of each program’s benefits and the costs to society that could result from such drastic funding cuts.
Building State Systems for Infants and Toddlers Briefing
The bi-partisan Congressional Baby Caucus, co-chaired by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D- 3rd CT) and Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-At Large MT), hosted a briefing on November 18th to highlight how states are incorporating programs and services for infants and toddlers into their comprehensive early childhood systems. Click here to see slides from the briefing, posted with permission from the Congressional Baby Caucus.
Overview of Title IV of H.R. 3221: The Early Learning Challenge Fund
Title IV of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3221) authorizes the Early Learning Challenge Fund, a new federal funding stream to promote State early care and education systems for children birth to five. This document provides a summary of the legislation, introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-7th CA), on July 15, 2009. On July 20, Dr. Ruth Friedman, Senior Education Policy Advisor, House Committee on Education and Labor, participated in a conference call to give an overview of the Early Learning Challenge Fund legislation and answer questions from the field. Click here to listen to a recording of this call, co-sponsored by ZERO TO THREE and ten of our partner organizations.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Download resources on the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and tools for implementation.
Tracking Services for Infants, Toddlers & Their Families: A Look at Federal Early Childhood Programs and the Roles of State and Local Governments
There are a variety of federal programs which address the needs of young children and their families. Government programs can be complex, however, and it can be difficult to keep track of how the programs are organized, funded and operated. In addition, states and communities often play an important role in implementing services created through the federal programs. To help you in your advocacy for infants and toddlers, this chart summarizes the primary federal programs currently focused on very young children and the roles of federal, state and local governments in those programs.
How a Bill Becomes a Law and Roles of Congressional Staff
Whenever learning something new, it is helpful to “start with the basics” and build your knowledge from there. With that in mind, this ZERO TO THREE Policy Network advocacy tool describes the process of how a bill becomes a law at the federal level and explains the roles of key Congressional staff. Read this advocacy tool now!
Babies and the Budget: Opportunities for Action
This advocacy tool is about the federal budget process: Why it’s important, how it works and where to seize opportunities to be involved. As early childhood professionals, we work to improve the lives of babies and toddlers every day. What happens in Washington, DC, can seem very far away and out of touch with what is happening at home. So why should infant-toddler professionals care about the federal budget process? Simply because the decisions made in Washington should be more reflective of what is needed in local communities. We can make a difference in the lives of infants and toddlers by being a voice for babies in the budget process! Download the advocacy tool and an analysis of the president’s budget now!
Congressional Committees Addressing Infant and Toddler Issues
This document is an overview of the Congressional committees and subcommittees addressing infant and toddler issues, including the members and leaders of those committees.
Federal Agencies Responsible for Implementing Programs Affecting Infants and Toddlers
This document is an overview of the federal agencies responsible for implementing programs for infants and toddlers, including descriptions of all the federal programs and links to their web sites.