NAEYC Children's Champions Update - Challenge Fund
March 19, 2010
The health care bill and the student loan bill, which included the Early Learning Challenge Fund, now are moving together in a single piece of legislation. We are sad to report that despite a valiant effort by the Administration, members of Congress and the early childhood field, the final health care/student loan bill was unable to include the Early Learning Challenge Fund as a result of difficult budget issues. As you will remember, the funding for the Challenge Fund and other initiatives would come from the savings produced from changes to the student loan system.
You did great work as a field on the Early Learning Challenge Fund with letters, calls and in-person visits to legislators that got the Challenge Fund passed in the House and to urge passage in the Senate. The letter to the Senate to pass the ELCF had an extraordinary number of signers.
The estimated savings from the change in the student loan system became significantly smaller over the past few months, due to more higher education institutions joining the Direct Loan program. At the same time, the Pell Grant program for low-income students had a very large and growing funding shortfall as more people were going to college because of the tight job market. In the end, the Early Learning Challenge Fund and other initiatives could not be funded through this mechanism.
There Are Still Many Opportunities Ahead
There is still a strong commitment to early childhood education and there continue to be opportunities this year. Remember that the President's budget request calls for $1.6 billion for child care and $989 million for Head Start/Early Head Start. Together we will need to work hard to secure the President's request in the budget and appropriations process. Stay tuned for alerts from us when it is a good time to contact Congress. The Administration continues to consider other ways to move the Early Learning Challenge Fund. We will keep you informed.
Thank you again for all of your hard work.
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