budgetOn Tuesday, President Obama released his fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, calling once again for significant new and ongoing investments in high-quality early education and care. The proposal closely mirrored his 2014 budget proposal for preschool. [Congress did not fund that proposal in full, but did include funding increases for early education in the final FY14 budget].

The President’s FY15 budget request includes $75 billion over 10 years — starting with $1.3 billion in 2015 — for mandatory funding for a Preschool for All initiative for four-year-olds. The budget also includes $750 million for competitively awarded Preschool Development Grants, as well as increases for Head Start, home visiting, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Strategies for Children president and CEO Carolyn Lyons applauded the president’s goals. “Once again, President Obama has made high-quality early education a priority in his budget proposal. In addition to state and local funding, federal resources are critical to ensuring that every child has the foundation they need to be successful. We urge Congress to support the president’s request.We also ask the Massachusetts Legislature to continue its support of early education so that the commonwealth is well-poised to take advantage of any federal funds that become available.”

At the center of the president’s FY15 proposal is his $75 billion Preschool for All initiative which would fund partnerships with states “to provide all low- and moderate-income four-year-olds with access to high-quality preschool.” States would be encouraged “to expand those programs to reach additional children from middle-class families and establish full-day kindergarten policies.”

The Preschool Development Grants build upon the progress made this year. As part of its Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, Congress included $250 million in funding for the grants. This new initiative would award competitive grants to states to build their capacity to develop, enhance, or expand high-quality preschool programs for children from families at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. An RFP is expected later this year.

The proposal also includes a 10-year, $15 billion investment to expand voluntary home visiting programs, which would be funded, like Preschool for All, from the proceeds of a new federal tobacco tax. In addition, the president’s proposal funds Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships to provide high-quality infant and toddler care for more than 100,000 children.

Covering the release of the budget, U.S. News & World Report quotes the president.

“‘We know… that education has to start at the earliest possible ages,’ Obama said during his budget announcement at Powell Elementary School in Washington, D.C. ‘We know that while not all of today’s good jobs are going to require a four-year college degree, more and more of them are going to require some form of higher education or specialized training.’”

The national policy organization First Five Years Fund released a statement praising the budget proposal, noting, “President Obama has made explicit in today’s budget that quality matters in early childhood education programs, and today’s announcement is a step toward ensuring that all children have access to the high-quality early childhood programs needed for success…”

To learn more about the president’s budget plans for early education, visit the U.S. Department of Education website and the National Women’s Law Center.

An overview of the president’s full education proposal for FY15 can be found here .

In addition to the FY2015 budget, early education is also on the Congressional agenda through the Strong Start for America’s Children Act and the reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant. Stay tuned for any federal updates as they develop and be sure to follow us on Twitter @EarlyEd4All.