There’s great budget news for children and families.
Last week, Congress officially passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill that dramatically increases funding for early education and care.
In total the bill’s provisions add up to “an increase of more than $3 BILLION for child care and early learning,” according to an email from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).
The funding includes a $2.37 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and a $610 million increase for Head Start, as well as “new funding for other key early learning and after-school programs.”
NWLC says it’s “the single largest increase in child care funding in history.”
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said of this budget win, “It was a challenge to find affordable child care for my own kids – and it’s even harder for parents today. Which is why I fought tooth and nail to nearly double child care funding in this year’s federal budget.”
“These increases in spending come after many years of federal disinvestment in domestic discretionary programs,” according to the Center for Law and Social Policy, a national nonprofit, which has posted more details on the spending bill here.
How did this victory happen?
“… advocates in every state who made sure that their Congressional delegation understood that child care deserves to be a priority because it is a basic support for families,” NWLC notes.
“State advocates shared facts, wrote letters and emails, made phone calls, and did so much more. They signed petitions urging their Senators and Representatives to endorse the Child Care for Working Families Act and then came to Washington with the National Association for the Education of Young Children D.C. to deliver more than 43,000 of those petitions.”
Now it’s time to celebrate and, of course, it’s time to get busy. As NWLC says:
“The next step is for states to use this opportunity to ensure that more families get child care assistance, that more children are in safe, nurturing care, that providers caring for children are paid a living wage, and that child care opportunities are available to parents wherever they live and whenever they work.”
As advocates, we have to keep the momentum going. So please thank the members of your Congressional delegation – Massachusetts residents click here. And please keep federal, state, and local elected officials in the loop. Tell them about your successes and innovations. Invite them to visit your early education and care programs. Let them see how this wise investment in children — and in the future — pays off.