Congress recently acted with uncharacteristic speed to undo the cuts to air traffic controllers implemented as part of the “sequester” (the across-the-board federal budget cuts), before flying home to their districts for a weeklong break. While making sure that the cuts did not cause them delays at the airport, they ignored the cuts that are affecting vulnerable women and children across the country. These include cuts to a range of crucial supports for families such as child care assistance and Head Start.
The National’s Women’s Law Center’s new fact sheet describes the importance of child care assistance in helping parents afford the care they need to work and support their families, and ensure their children are in safe, reliable care that fosters their learning and growth. Congress should be investing more in child care assistance, not chipping away at the help there is through arbitrary budget cuts. Read more »
On Wednesday night, the President’s new Early Learning Initiative got a moment in the spotlight on the Daily Show. Host Jon Stewart, in that way only he knows how, highlighted the importance of investing in children’s early years. My trying to recap the clip will certainly erase all the humor, so I’ll let you watch it for yourself.
Think of life like a marathon (just go with me on this metaphor). Many of America’s most vulnerable children are starting five miles behind everyone else - yet we expect them to finish on par with their peers. Expanding the access these children have to high quality early learning opportunities will be revolutionary. Read more »
This morning I visited a Head Start classroom with NWLC’s Director of Child Care and Early Learning, Helen Blank, and two recognizable guests.
Helen was part of a select group of early childhood advocates invited to join Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as they visited the Judy Center at Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland. Judy Centers are located in or affiliated with elementary school across Maryland and provide a comprehensive set of services for at-risk children birth through age five and their families.
Secretaries Duncan and Sebelius treated the children to a great rendition of “Green Eggs and Ham” and I got to play press photographer. The children seemed to thoroughly enjoy their new storytellers though they were a bit skeptical when Secretary Sebelius tried to use the story to encourage them to try new foods.
“Have you ever tried a food you thought you wouldn’t like and then you liked it?” she asked.
“No,” a little boy responded matter-of-factly. Read more »
Yesterday, Senate Democrats proposed a plan to postpone across-the-board spending cuts — known inside the beltway as the “sequester” — that are currently scheduled to take effect in just two weeks, on March 1. The bill, called the American Family Economic Protection Act, includes $120 billion of savings — enough to replace the sequester through the end of calendar year 2013.
Unlike the sequester, which reduces the deficit solely through deep spending cuts (on top of earlier spending cuts that are 2.5 times greater than new revenues), the American Family Economic Protection Act achieves savings from an equal amount of revenues and cuts (plus about $10 billion in interest savings). The bill would raise $54 billion over 10 years by adopting the “Buffett rule,” a measure that would ensure very wealthy taxpayers cannot get away with paying taxes at a lower effective rate than middle class families. Those with incomes above $1 million (after subtracting charitable contributions) would be required to pay at least a 30 percent tax rate, with a phase-in for incomes between $1 million and $2 million. An additional $1 billion in revenue would be raised by eliminating an oil industry tax loophole and a tax deduction for businesses that ship jobs overseas.
On the spending side, savings in the bill would come mostly from modest reductions in the overall level of defense spending — which would not begin until FY 2015, when the war in Afghanistan is expected to end – and cuts in agriculture subsidies, especially direct payments to farmers that are currently provided regardless of yields, prices, or farm income.
All in all, this sounds like a reasonable proposal to us — especially compared to the sequester, which would be devastating for many programs that women and their families depend on. Read more »
As Republicans and Democrats struggle to reach a compromise before the impending fiscal cliff, some media and policy advisors from across the political spectrum are finding agreement on one issue: the importance of investing in early learning and the need to make the well-being of young children a national priority.
Mark McKinnon, a former advisor for President George W. Bush, recently appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe to discuss the importance of early childhood intervention. During the interview, McKinnon was asked to identify a specific investment that can improve the well-being of American children. "Money spent early on has a much greater return on investment," McKinnon responded. Programs that intervene in children's lives during the crucial years from birth to age five, especially children from low-income families, prepare them for future success and must be prioritized.
McKinnon argues that improving child well-being is part of a broader set of issues that transcend party lines. He is currently working with former Obama campaign advisor Jim Margolis to produce a mass media campaign called Too Small to Fail. Launched in November by the Center for the Next Generation, Too Small to Fail attempts to convey the consequences of neglecting the needs of our nation's children and highlight strategies for supporting children. Read more »
The bill would increase Child Care and Development Block Grant discretionary funding by $160 million, to $2.438 billion. (Discretionary funding is set each year; there is also $2.917 billion in mandatory CCDBG funding.) The increase includes $90 million to support training, education, and other professional development opportunities for the early care and education workforce, which is key to improving the overall quality of early care and education, and $70 million to help more families pay for care and raise reimbursement rates for child care providers. By providing funding to expand the availability of child care assistance as well as to enhance the quality of the workforce, the Senate Subcommittee is signaling that it recognizes investments in both areas are essential in giving families access to higher-quality child care options. Read more »
Child care and early education issues are gaining increased attention at the federal and state level. Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services announced that of the $550 million appropriated for the Race to the Top education grant competition in 2012, $133 million will be used for a second round of Early Learning Challenge grants to help states strengthen their early care and education systems. (Five states that just missed out on the first round of funding will be eligible to compete for this latest round.) At the state level, nearly half of the governors mentioned early care and education in their state of the state addresses this year, indicating they recognize that giving children get a strong start helps children, and their states, succeed in the future. Read more »