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Funding for Early Childhood Education Programs

09 Oct 2018 by Amy Stephens Cubbage

Take heart! For too long, one of the least heartening perspectives on the federal government budget came from early childhood education advocates, who, year in and year out, felt left out of the political dialogue during budget talks. They were either ignored or, worse, the recipients of unwanted attention as federal spending on education was slashed or level-funded as costs increased. However, during a time when we see much division in our country, especially coming out of Washington, D.C., it actually is a bit –just a bit – encouraging to look at early childhood education programs which are garnering more and more bipartisan support.

In fact, for the first time in many years, the early childhood education field knows what the next federal fiscal year holds before it’s well-underway, unlike years past when we were retroactively scrambling to determine funding levels as the fiscal year progressed. On September 28th, President Trump signed legislation from Congress to fund the critically important programs housed in the Labor, Health & Human Services (DHHS), and Education (ED) departments before the federal fiscal year begins on October 1st. The FY19 “minibus” appropriations package, which includes funding for other parts of the federal government through Dec. 7, 2018, importantly funds these education programs for FY19: 

  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which reached a historic high in FY18, is funded at $5.3B, an increase of $50M over FY18, in to states
  • Early Head Start/Head Start received a $200M increase over FY18 for a total of $10.1B in monies that flow mostly from the federal government to local grantees
  • Preschool Development Grants, Birth to Five, a competitive grant program for states, jointly administered by DHHS and ED, was funded at $250M – the same as in FY18
  • Child Care Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) in ED, which supports or establishes campus-based child care programs primarily serving the needs of low-income students enrolled in colleges, was level-funded with the FY18 amount at $50M
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B Preschool Grants was funded at $391.12M, an increase of $10M over FY18
  • IDEA Part C Grants for Infants and Families was level-funded at FY18 level of $470M
  • Title I (ESSA) grants to school districts was funded at $15.9 B, an increase of $100M more than FY18 

We will continue to unpack these appropriations to find the opportunities for improving quality and achieving our shared mission of ensuring every child has access to warm, responsive, organized classrooms with emotionally, socially, and cognitively supportive teachers who fuel children’s natural curiosity and love of learning. To read more about ways in which this Congress can fund programs serving young children and their families, see NAEYC’s federal early childhood education policy agenda.