By Linda K. Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development
President Obama energized the child care community during his State of the Union Visit disclaimer page address, saying that “it’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or as a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.”
Following that, the President announced a major new proposal to make high-quality child care available for all infants and toddlers Visit disclaimer page in low- and moderate income families. He highlighted the proposal during a visit to a Head Start center and a speech in Lawrence, Kansas.
In his 2016 budget, the President emphasizes these priorities. It laid out a strategy to strengthen our middle class and help America's hard-working families get ahead. It highlights the importance of high quality early learning and the importance of supporting young parents.
Federal and state funding for child care assistance falls well short of the need and millions of low income families struggle to find quality care they can afford in their communities. High quality care is extremely hard to find and expensive, particularly for low income families with young children. The average cost of infant and toddler care is almost double the average subsidy that parents receive in the CCDF Program.
The President’s Budget proposes the critical investments needed to accelerate economic growth in the long run, in research, education, including early education from birth, training, and infrastructure. Below are highlights:
Head Start Visit disclaimer page an increase of $ 1.5 billion.
- $1.1 billion to increase duration of Head Start services to cover a full school day and year.
- $150 million is set aside to expand funding for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.
- Funds are included for cost of living increases and to support DRS.
The President’s budget proposes an additional $82 billion over ten years for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The total FY2016 budget request is $9.4 billion, a $4 billion increase over FY2015.
- By 2025, the initiative would reach over 2.6 million children, including nearly triple the number of infants and toddlers served to 1.8 million children.
- By 2025, funding would make child care assistance available to all families with incomes up to 200 percent of poverty (about $40,000 a year for a family of three) with children under age 4.
- Includes $266 million increase in discretionary funding to help States implement the policies required by the new bipartisan CCDBG law. Among other changes, the law significantly strengthens health and safety standards in the CCDF program.
- Includes $500 million for the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), the same as FY 2015; a $15B investment over 10 years.
- The Administration for Children and Families will continue to jointly administer Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants and Preschool Development Grants with the Department of Education to build capacity to develop, enhance, or expand high-quality programs. The President’s Budget includes $750 million for Preschool Development Grants grants.
The budget also includes cutting taxes for families paying child care with a credit of up to $3,000 per child. The President’s tax proposal would streamline child care tax benefits and triple the maximum child care tax credit for middle class families with young children, increasing it to $3,000 per child.
- Under the President’s proposal, they could claim a 50 percent credit for up to $6,000 of expenses per child under five.
At the heart of our work is our commitment to achieve our goals:
- Building successful Early Learning and Development Systems across Head Start, child care, and pre-K
- Promoting high quality and accountable early learning and development programs for all children
- Improving the health and safety of early learning and development programs
- Ensuring an effective early childhood workforce
Promoting family support and engagement in the child’s development
The 2016 Budget supports these goals.