There is good news for young children in President Obama’s budget proposal. The President demonstrates his continued commitment to ensuring children have a strong start by proposing significant new investments in early learning. These investments would support more high-quality options for infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children. The investments would be funded through base discretionary and mandatory funding as well as through a new Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative. This initiative would be supported by savings from changes to mandatory programs and the reduction of a tax break for wealthy individuals, with the additional funding split between defense and domestic programs, including early learning programs. The President’s budget would also fund a major expansion of high-quality preschool programs for four-year-olds through a tobacco tax increase, as proposed in last year’s budget.
Under the President’s proposed budget:
- Head Start funding would increase by $270 million. This would include a $100 million increase for cost of living adjustments for current programs.. It would also include a $150 million increase for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. The Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, which are aimed at expanding access to high-quality early care and education for infants and toddlers, would receive an additional $800 million through the Opportunity Initiative. With all of the new funding, the Partnerships would be able to serve more than 100,000 young children.
- Preschool Development Grants would receive an additional $500 million, which together with FY 2014 funding, would bring total funding for the grants to $750 million. The additional funding would be supported by funding from the base budget ($250 million) and by funding from the Opportunity Initiative ($250 million). These grants will be awarded competitively to states to build their capacity to develop, enhance, or expand high-quality preschool programs for children from families at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
- Preschool for All, the President’s signature initiative to make preschool available to all four-year-olds in low- and moderate-income families through state-federal partnerships, would receive $75 billion over 10 years. This preschool initiative would be paid for with a tobacco tax increase, which would help discourage smoking, particularly among teens, and therefore would have substantial health benefits.
- The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) would receive an increase of $57 million in discretionary funding, to $2.417 billion. Of this total, $200 million would be reserved to help states support improvements in the quality of care. In addition, CCDBG would receive an increase of $750 million in mandatory funding, to $3.667 billion. This additional funding would help maintain low-income families’ access to help paying for child care.
- Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting would receive an increase of $129 million, to $500 million. The proposed budget would provide $15 billion in mandatory funding over 10 years to extend the program through FY 2024. The program funds voluntary home visits by nurses, social workers, and other professionals to provide vulnerable families with supports and resources.
- Grants for Infants and Families (Part C under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) would receive an increase of $3.3 million, to $441.8 million. The program provides funding to states to support early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities.
- The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit would be supplemented with an additional credit for families with children under age five. The additional credit would increase the maximum amount of child care expenses that these families could claim as well as increase the percentage of those expenses they would receive as a tax credit. The additional credit would also increase the benefits available to middle-income families. However, both the current and the additional credit would remain nonrefundable, making it unavailable to low-income families that have no federal tax liability.