Federal Legislation Updates

The President’s Proposed FY2017 Budget

President Obama’s proposed FY 2017 budget was released on Monday, February 8th and includes several key investments in early care and learning programs. Overall, the Department of Education proposals total a 2% increase in their early learning budget, while HHS could see as much as a 4% increase. However, this is just the first step in the federal budget process. Over the next several weeks, congressional lawmakers will begin holding hearings to begin considering what funding levels will ultimately be approved.  ECEC will be submitting our own comments to congressional leaders regarding funding for early care and learning programs, and will continue to provide updates as Committees take up the budget on Capitol Hill.
Child Care:
Discretionary: $161m increase to support states in implementing the 2014 CCDBG Reauthorization requirements.

  • $40m for a new competitive pilot program to increase the supply of high-quality child care in rural areas and during non-traditional hours

Mandatory: $82b over 10 years, with an initial investment of $3.7b in FY17.

  • This funding would be tied to the newly proposed Child C.A.R.E. Act, introduced by Senator Casey (D-PA) and Representatives Crowley (D-NY) and Frankel (D-FL). (Bill #’s: S.2539; HR.5424). This new program, operated through state grants that would amend current state plans, targets children under age 4 in families at 200% of poverty. The goal of this program is to close the gap between the subsidy reimbursement rate for infants and the true cost of quality, which the Administration estimates to be $10-12,000 per infant or toddler. An estimated additional 1.15 million children would gain access to high-quality infant and toddler services through this program.
    • The budget proposes that new CCDBG health and safety requirements be extended to child care funded directly through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Social Services Block Grant (SSBG).

Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit:
The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) offers families with children under age five tax credit to offset child care expenses. The proposal triples the maximum credit available for families to $3,000 per child and makes the full CDCTC available to families with incomes of up to $120,000.

Head Start:
$434 million increase to support increased program hours and services. Includes:

  • $292 million for increasing the number of children receiving full-day, full-year services
  • $10 million for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships
  • $132 million for a cost of living increase for Head Start programs

Preschool Development Grants:
$100 million increase for preschool development grants. Would provide a one-year continuation of funding for existing grantees and new funds under the newly authorized Preschool Development Grants included in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 and jointly administered by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.

Preschool for All and Home Visiting:

  • $75 billion in mandatory funding, paid for by tobacco tax increases to support access to high-quality preschool for all four-year-olds from low-income families and evidence-based home visiting.
  • $20 million for a new initiative to provide home visiting in rural and tribal areas that will be jointly administered through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA):
$35 million for IDEA preschool grants and $45 million for the IDEA Infants and Families program.

FY 2016 Omnibus Budget Deal Reached

Congress has reached a deal on a $1.1 trillion spending bill, which will fund the government through September 30th, 2016, averting a government shutdown. The tax and spending package bills will get a vote later this week, and Speaker Ryan comments that the bills were a compromise on both sides of the aisle.

For Early Childhood Education, the Omnibus budget bill includes:

  • An increase of $326 million for the Child Care Development Block Grant. This maintains a set aside of $127 million for infants and toddlers that is slightly more than FY2015. (Total CCDBG funding = $2.8 billion)
  • An increase of $570 million for Head Start, which includes a $141 million COLA for Head Start and $25 million for Designation and Renewal, $294 million for supplemental funding to increase the hours of Head Start program operation, and a $135 million increase for Early Head Start, Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships, and conversions from Head Start to Early Head Start. (Total Head Start funding = $9.2 billion)
  • A $15 million increase in IDEA Part B Preschool Grant and A $20 million increase in IDEA Part C Grants for Infants and Families. (Total IDEA funding = $11.9 billion); and
  • An $18 million increase in Summer EBT benefits funding. This program is no longer limited to communities based on income projections.
  • $250 million for new Preschool Development Grants under the Every Student Succeeds Act framework.

And, the new budget will permanently extend refundable tax credits for low-income families through the Income Tax Credit for low-income earners and the Child Tax Credit for low and moderate income workers. The Omnibus bill does not include reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, as many as hoped.  Reauthorization is expected to be considered early next year under “regular order” with a markup in the Senate Agriculture Committee on a free-standing bill. The budget bill does however maintain the language from prior appropriations legislation that allows waivers of the whole grain requirement and postpones full implementation of the sodium requirement in the School Nutrition Program.

While we are pleased to see additional investments in early care and education, we remain attuned to upcoming state budget releases early in 2016 as critical resource streams. Stay tuned to ECEC for ongoing updates on state funding levels!

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Early Care and Learning in the Every Student Succeeds Act

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On December 10th, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act, Congress’ dramatic revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, previouslyNo Child Left Behind. Here’s what you need to know about early care and learning in the new law.

Early care and learning are woven throughout provisions within the new legislation, including those addressing Title I, the Ready to Learn literacy program, Promise Neighborhoods, and charter schools. In addition, language now refers to an educational “pipeline” that extends from early childhood throughout post-secondary education. Section 854B emphasizes Congress’ view that state decisions regarding early learning and child care should be independent of federal choice for parents through a mixed delivery system of services so parents can determine the right early learning and child care option for their children.

However, the centerpiece of early care and learning in the new law is under the umbrella of Preschool Development Grants, found in Section 9212. This set of provisions actually refers to the coordination of comprehensive mixed delivery systems of all early care and learning programs within states, including all federally, state, and privately funded programs serving low and moderate-income children. This encompasses child care, Early Head Start and Head Start, licensed family and center-based child care programs, public schools, and community-based organizations.

Here is a brief summary of the new Preschool Development Grants program:

  • It will be jointly administered by the Secretaries of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS); however, the program will be housed by HHS.
  • All states are eligible to apply for competitive 1-year grants to support strategic planning and implementation of their state early childhood mixed delivery systems, focused on improving the school readiness of “low-income and disadvantaged” children and improving transitions into the K-12 system.
  • States must commit to matching funding at 30% of the grant award.
  • States are eligible to apply for a 3-year renewal grant.
  • Governors will identify a state entity to administer the grant.
  • State strategic plans should address how states plan to use existing resources in order to:
    • Align and strengthen the delivery of existing programs by more efficiently using federal, state, local and private resources;
    • Coordinate delivery models and funding streams;
    • Improve both participation and program quality while maintaining the availability of services; and
    • Improve parental choice among existing programs.
  • State grant activities must include:
    • A periodic statewide needs assessment;
    • Collaboration, coordination, and partnership opportunities that improve both program quality, service delivery, and program participation;
    • Alignment with existing early childhood statewide initiatives, including governance among State Advisory Councils, as well as the Child and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014.
    • Maximizing parental choice and knowledge of mixed delivery system programs and providers; and
    • Sharing best practices among state programs and providers.
  • These grants will not be subject to any federal mandates regarding specific requirements around standards, curriculum, and assessment, measures or indicators of quality, teacher and staff qualifications and salaries, program duration (length of day and year), or class sizes and ratios.
  • States are encouraged to use subgrants to carry out their strategic plan activities. There is a limit of 60% of funding to support subgrants within a state’s first year of their grant renewal, and 75% in the second year of renewal.
  • The House has approved an appropriation of $250m to support this program from FY 2017-2020.

With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, complemented by last year’s reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), states are poised to leverage new statutory reach to align state systems and expand access to high-quality early care and learning programs, including state-funded preschool for children from low- and moderate-income families. However, both federal and state resources remain critical in order to maximize the impact of both newly minted laws. With adequate levels of investment behind them, these key legislative packages may open new inroads that significantly advance how we support America’s workforce of today and tomorrow.

 Child Care and Development Block Grant

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CCDBG Signed Into Law By President Obama

On November 19th, the President signed Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) into law. The Senate made historic and bipartisan progress by passing the CCDBG by a vote of 88 to 1 earlier this week on November 17th.

On November 17, 2014, the Senate made historic and bipartisan progress by passing the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) by a vote of 88 to 1. ECEC will circulate template thank-you letters for you to forward to your Congressional Delegation tomorrow.

S. 1086, incorporates input and changes made over the course of the past several years as Congressional leaders and staff, as well as a broad community of advocates and voices from the field, worked to update and improve the act, last authorized in 1996.  Introduced in the 113th Congress during the Summer of 2014, the bill represented a bipartisan commitment to reauthorizing the law made by Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita(R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC). After today’s vote, the bill will move to the President’s desk for signature.

The newly reauthorized CCDBG significantly improves child care safety, quality, and access through a series of key provisions outlined below.  The bill includes new language that directly addresses affordability, continuity of care, and cost stabilization that will both benefit families and support providers. Much of this language came directly from ECEC member perspectives that were communicated to Congressional leaders through a variety of channels.

The bill is authorized to fund the program at a level that represents a 16.5% increase over the next 6 years.

The full text of the proposed bill is available here: http://edworkforce.house.gov/uploadedfiles/s_1086_ans.pdf

A brief summary of the bill is below. Look for ECEC’s comprehensive bill analysis, including discussion of implementation timelines and implications for states and programs, later this week!

The full text of the proposed bill is available here. A brief summary of the bill is below.

Background: The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary federal law and funding stream for child care. Funds support health, safety, and quality initiatives in the states for all children, and funds provide subsidies to help eligible families pay for child care.

ECEC Resources and Recommendations for Improving CCDBG:

CCDBG Setting the Course for Child Care
CCDBG Subsidy Policy and Practice
CCDBG Tiered Eligibility and Continuity of Care
CCDBG Parent Fees and State Reimbursement
CCDBG Background Checks and Other Fed Laws
CCDBG Background Checks

 Higher Education Act

Senate HELP Committee Chairman, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has signaled that he wants to move from the ESEA reauthorization to an similarly bipartisan attempt to wrap up the Higher Education Act, which has been moving slowly since House and Senate drafts were released in November 2014. Several hearings were held in spring 2015, however outside of a bipartisan revision of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFS), an ESEA focus has dominated the Committee’s time this fall.

 

Connecting Children and Families to the Affordable Health Care Act

The Department of Health and Human Services has released materials to assist community resources, including child care centers, with connecting children and families to health insurance coverage via the Affordable Health Care Act. Resources include:

Information Toolkit: Download a condensed version of our health care law toolkit to use during the final weeks of open enrollment.

Sign up for a webinar:  HHS is hosting webinars throughout the month of March.  They will give you the information you need about the healthcare law and how to host an enrollment event in your community.

Enrollment Event Guide:  Check out “Four-Step Guide to Planning a Health Care Enrollment Event” for more information and next steps.