ZERO TO THREE Goes Goo-Goo Over Historic Funding Increases to Support Early Childhood Development
The following statement regarding the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies markup of FY2020 funding bill should be attributed to Myra Jones-Taylor, Chief Policy Officer, ZERO TO THREE:
“ZERO TO THREE is thrilled to see the House Appropriations Committee approve the Labor-HHS spending bill for FY2020, which outlines funding for early care and learning investments critical to babies’ development. We know the first three years are a time in development unmatched by any other later point in life. But the recently released State of Babies Yearbook: 2019 reveals troubling early warning signs that too many young children face conditions that place their development—and our future—at risk.
“Almost a quarter of babies and toddlers live in poverty and nearly half live in families with incomes less than twice the federal poverty level. This means that few children have access to the resources and services that help ensure positive development and long-term outcomes. But today’s historic increases help to reverse this path we have set for our future. By laying the foundation today for the 12 million infants and toddlers living in the United States, we are investing in tomorrow’s society.
“Today’s $2.4 billion increase to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) builds upon last year’s historic boost to help low-income families afford high-quality child care for their babies. For the 6 million infants and toddlers who spend part of their day in non-parental care, child care plays a major role in shaping their young brains.
“Ahead of the 25th anniversary of Early Head Start (EHS) next week, the Committee passed a $525 million set-aside for the expansion of EHS, including through EHS-Child Care Partnerships. With the program only reaching 7 percent of income-eligible children, this investment will enable thousands more children access to this important program.
“The Committee also doubled investments in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) Promotion, Intervention and Treatment grants to a total of $10 million. With this investment, Congress has recognized the importance of the mental health of young children and their families. By investing in early mental health prevention, identification and treatment, we can reduce the need for treatment later in life, when it becomes much more difficult, time intensive and expensive.
“With an increase of $21.3 million for early intervention services through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C (Grants for Infants and Families), we can help all children stay on a positive developmental path. Children who face adverse experiences such as poverty early in life, abuse or neglect or chronic, unrelenting stress are more likely to have developmental delays. These early interventions catch problems early, before they become more difficult and expensive to address.
“We must underscore the urgent need to lift the cap on domestic spending to accommodate these and other investments in young children and families. If we cannot make room for investments in our children, we are essentially capping our future.
“The House Appropriations Committee is making babies’ potential a national priority with the markup of this bill and helping to give infants and toddlers the start in life that will ensure a strong future for our nation. ZERO TO THREE is proud to have championed these investments in today’s babies and remains committed to working with the Senate to ensure these increases become a reality for tomorrow’s leaders.”
About ZERO TO THREE
ZERO TO THREE works to ensure all babies and toddlers benefit from the family and community connections critical to their well-being and development. Since 1977, the organization has advanced the proven power of nurturing relationships by transforming the science of early childhood into helpful resources, practical tools and responsive policies for millions of parents, professionals and policymakers. For more information, and to learn how to become a ZERO TO THREE member, please visit zerotothree.org, facebook.com/zerotothree, or follow @zerotothree on Twitter.