Budget & Appropriations

As policymakers at the local and state level work to pass legislation that promotes investment in early learning, the next hurdle is ensuring that state and local leadership is met with federal support and partnership through existing early childhood programs such as the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Early Head Start and Head Start, Preschool Development Grants, and IDEA Parts B and C.

Additionally, as Congress considers investments to support statutory improvements to early learning programs, such as recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, reauthorization of the Higher Education Act or reauthorization of Head Start and Early Head Start, advocates must ensure that early learning programs are properly and sufficiently funded to accomplish the goals and activities authorized by law.

Each year, shortly after the State of the Union Address, the president submits a budget request to Congress, which includes the administration’s desired federal revenue and spending levels for each federal program, including investments for federal early learning and childcare initiatives. Following receipt of the president’s budget request, Congress sets the total level of discretionary funding for the upcoming fiscal year in its concurrent congressional budget resolution. Once this total amount for discretionary funding, referred to as the 302a allocation, is known, the appropriations committee in each chamber works to divide the 302a allocation amongst the 12 appropriations subcommittees, including the Labor, Health and Human Service, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee, which is responsible for federal early learning and care programs. The amount of funding provided at the subcommittee level is known as the 302b allocation. Using this information, the 12 subcommittees produce separate appropriations bills in each Chamber and the full Senate and House begin working through the legislative process to pass the bills prior to the conclusion of the federal fiscal year on September 30.

Federal investment from the White House and Congress has elevated the primacy of affordable access to high-quality early learning and care and leveraged the work being done at the state and local level. In the face of limited resources, Congress has consistently increased funding levels for early learning and care programs with overwhelming bipartisan support. In December of 2015, Congress devoted nearly $1 billion in new money for early childhood education, funding the major federal programs that support critical early learning opportunities for young children from low-income families like the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Early Head Start and Head Start, and more.

FFYF advocates for significant investment in early learning by working on a bipartisan basis with the White House and Congress. We are committed to making a continuum of comprehensive, high-quality early learning opportunities accessible to disadvantaged children from birth to age five. Over the coming months and years, the new administration and Congress are well positioned to continue working together to expand access to high-quality early learning, both directly and in collaboration with states and communities. FFYF has a plan to leverage public support, which includes building upon the progress that Congress has championed for early learning during the appropriations process.