Today, advocates around the country will make a call to the White House asking for help to ensure that 300,000 children do not lose child care and Head Start. When the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was enacted in February 2009, it provided sorely needed funds for child care to help parents work and allow their children to receive care in safe and healthy environments, and for Head Start and Early Head Start to give children a chance to receive the early learning experiences they need to succeed in school. Over 200,000 children and their families were able to receive child care assistance and 7,000 Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms were able to open as a result of these funds. Yet, these funds are now running out and hundreds of thousands of children in low-income families are in jeopardy of losing access to child care and early education opportunities.
States have already begun to make cuts to child care assistance as they exhaust their ARRA funds and as they continue to grapple with major budget shortfalls. For example, Arkansas and New Hampshire have growing waiting lists for child care assistance, Washington State has lowered its income eligibility limit for child care assistance, and Arizona is providing child care assistance to far fewer children.
Without new federal funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Head Start, and Early Head Start, classrooms will be shut down, teachers will lose their jobs, parents will lack the child care they need to get and keep a job, and children will be denied access to child care and early education that can help give them a strong start.
It is essential that the White House urge Congress to appropriate the funding needed to maintain child care and Head Start for these children, whether as part of a continuing resolution to keep the government operating or in an omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2011. Today, support our nation’s children and families by calling the White House at 202-456-1111 and ask them to work with Congress to make sure that funding for 300,000 children in child care and Head Start and Early Head Start is continued and that funding is included for a new Early Learning Challenge Fund.