Cute girl with piggy bankToday, the House Labor HHS Education Appropriations Subcommittee marked up the fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations legislation that funds various programs that impact children. First Focus followed the Subcommittee’s mark up to highlight amendments by Members of Congress that would help restore funding for key education programs that help kids.

Early Childhood. The draft bill included an increase of approximately $300 million to Head Start, resulting in overall funding of $8.8 billion. Head Start is celebrating its 50th year anniversary of providing comprehensive services to the most disadvantaged children and families to ensure that they are healthy and ready to thrive in school. The increase in funding falls far short of what is needed to serve all children in need of Head Start, which serves less than 50 percent of the children eligible for the program. In addition, the funding increase is significantly less than the President’s budget request for $10.1 million to provide full-day and full-year Head Start services for low-income children and families. The bill also eliminates the Preschool Development Grants, which provide critical funds to states to develop the infrastructure and improve the quality of preschool programs for 4-year-olds living in low-income families. The elimination of this program endangers the ability of states to develop and expand access to high quality preschool for the children who need it the most. Finally, this bill provides level funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which Congress recently reauthorized with important safety and quality requirements. Unfortunately, the reauthorized CCDBG requires significant funding increases to enable states to implement the safety and quality provisions. Level-funding the CCDBG means that working families will receive fewer childcare subsidies, resulting in the loss of adequate, affordable childcare nationally. This negatively impacts children, who will be forced into potentially unsafe childcare facilities and providers, and for parents, who without childcare, cannot maintain stable employment to support their families.

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), top Democrat on the Subcommittee, offered an amendment to the bill that would increase funding for early childhood programs, Head Start, Early Head Start and CCDBG to the president’s funding requests for these programs. The amendment was rejected along party lines. The president requested roughly $10.1 billion for Head Start, an additional $1.5 billion or 17 percent increase over the current funding level of $8.5 billion, to help mitigate the impact of sequestration on Head Start that resulted in 57,000 slots lost in the program. For CCDBG, the president proposed a 15 percent increase to the program, funding it $2.8 billion to help low-income families in obtaining child care so that parents can work or attend classes or training.

Title I. Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies, known as Title I, provide financial assistance to school districts and schools serving low-income students to provide them with a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and academic assessments. Title I is intended to promote funding equity between and among local education agencies. These grants reach about 20 million American children each year. The draft bill maintains funding for Title I at $14.5 billion at a time when child poverty is growing, particularly for young children, and at a time when LEAs are significantly under-resourced.

Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA) offered an amendment that would provide an additional $1.7 billion in funding for Title I, Teacher Quality State Grants and English Language Acquisition. The amendment was rejected along party lines. The additional funding in Title I would help protect and expand opportunities that address the learning needs of low-income students. Nearly one in five children live in poverty in the U.S. and the Department of Education estimates that public school enrollment will continue to grow every year from 2012 to 2021. English Language Acquisition State Grants ensure that English language learners develop high levels of academic achievement. In 2011-2012, about 4.4 million ELL students attended public schools, representing about 9.1 percent of total student enrollment.

Thank you @rosadelauro and @chakafattah for putting children first in House spending bill amendments: v/ @First_Focus
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Want to learn more? First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. Read more about our work on the federal budget.

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