By Linda Likins, Director of the Devereux Early Childhood Initiative
When President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2014 budget request, early childhood advocates were beside themselves. This was the largest proposed federal budget for early childhood in our history. What a momentous event! This President’s budget represents his wish-list for early childhood funding.
Congress will have to agree to a budget that will support these initiatives, so we can’t get too excited yet. It is proposed that this program would be funded in part by an increase in the tobacco tax. This would include 94 cents per pack of cigarettes that would raise $78 billion over 10 years.
This is an excellent time to start talking to your Congressional delegations about the importance of our nation making this investment in children. Also, we need to remind them how important social and emotional health is to the future success of our children and the future success of our nation. When “No Child Left Behind” was first drafted, there was an entire section on social and emotional health. If this section had not been cut from the bill, more than likely, we would be seeing very different outcomes in the arena of children’s social and emotional health.
Everyday, children are being helped by the DCRC resources such as DECA Program, or another social and emotional program, that will help children be prepared for school and life. It is not too early to start this dialogue in your community and your with national representatives. This budget has to be more than a wish list, it must become a reality.
Some of the highlights of the budget include:
Preschool for All: This would be the federal government’s largest investment in pre-K but would allow states the flexibility to create or expand high quality pre-K initiative that are best for their state.
Preschool Development Grant: These discretionary competitive grants to states would create or expand high quality pre-K initiatives for 4 year olds from low and moderate income families to build capacity for high quality pre-K.
Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships: This investment would enroll approximately 110, 000 children, nearly doubling current enrollment in Early Head Start.
Head Start: An additional $222 million over this current funding levels to fund a cost of living increase for grantees and continue serving children currently enrolled.
Research Based Voluntary Nurse Home Visiting: The President’s budget would increase this program by $15 billion over a ten year program.
Child Care and Development Fund: The President requests a total of $5.9 billion for child care in FY2014.
Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers: (IDEA Part C) This increase would raise the averge state allocation by over $300,000 and enable states to provide early intervention services to an addition 360,000 infants and toddlers.
Preschool Grants for Children with Disabilities: (IDEA Part B) Level funded at $372.6 million, it helps states provide public education in the least restrictive environment for children with disabilities ages three through five.