While Congress continues to debate funding cuts to early care and education for FY 2011, several governors and state legislatures have proposed or already voted to slash spending for these core supports to children and their families. These cutbacks ignore the fact that investments in young children are essential to the nation’s prosperity. They enable parents to get and keep a job as well as provide children with the strong start they need to succeed in school and contribute to our future economy.

Arizona’s governor is poised to sign a budget with a $24 million cut in state child care spending that will trigger an additional loss of about $40 million in federal funding for child care. This could result in over 13,000 children losing child care assistance as early as July. The state has already made deep cuts in child care and eliminated preschool for over 4,300 children.

California’s legislature has followed the governor’s lead and voted to cut about $500 million in child care. Fewer families will be eligible for child care assistance, child care providers will receive lower reimbursement rates, and parents receiving child care assistance will have to contribute more toward the cost of care.

Both Nebraska and Maine’s governors also propose to cut back on payments to child care providers, leaving programs without the resources they to pay well-qualified teachers and afford books, toys, and other materials. Meanwhile, Louisiana’s governor proposes funding cuts that would cause 5,000 fewer children to receive child care assistance.

By cutting back on child care and early education, these governors and state legislatures are depriving children of opportunities to learn and parents of opportunities to work, and as a result, jeopardizing their states’ economic well-being. States should instead be stepping up to protect crucial supports for young children, and the federal government should do their part by maintaining Head Start and child care funding. These wise investments in child care and early education will benefit children, families, states, and the nation.

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