The elections on November 2 decided what the next Congress will look like, but the current Congress still has business to finish that will make a real difference to children and families. When Congress returns for a “lame duck” session on November 15, it will need to complete a final appropriations bill for fiscal year 2011 that will determine funding levels for early childhood programs. Congress will have a short time—just two weeks until the Continuing Resolution (CR) enacted at the end of September expires—to act in order to prevent funding cuts for the Child Care and Development and Block Grant (CCDBG), Head Start, and Early Head Start, among other essential programs. They will also have to decide whether to fund the Early Learning Challenge Fund, a new initiative that would encourage states to compete for funding to help to build  stronger early childhood systems.

Over the past two years, child care and Head Start have received a sorely needed increase in funding as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). These additional funds have allowed new Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms to open to reach more young children in poverty and child care programs to open their doors to more working parents and ensure that their children will receive care in safe and healthy environments. If these funds are cut, newly opened classrooms will be forced to shut down, child care providers may find themselves out of business, parents will lose the child care they need in order to work in these difficult economic times, and the development and growth of young children will be threatened.

Should Congress fail to approve increased funds for these indispensable programs, both those who provide and rely on child care for economic security will face devastating consequences. Many parents will be left without the affordable child care they need to hold onto a job, or will have no choice but to use care that leaves them worrying about their children because it is all they can afford. While the faces in Congress may be changing, millions of working parents woke up the day after the election with the same need for high-quality, affordable child care that they had when they woke up on election day.

Monday, November 15 is your chance to call your members of Congress to ensure that these child care and Head Start funds are not cut. As many as 300,000 children could lose child care and Head Start if Congress passes an appropriations bill that reduces funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and Head Start. Join us in taking action and telling Congress to move forward and fund these essential child care programs as well as the Early Learning Challenge Fund by calling 1-888-460-0813 on November 15.