October 6, 2008
Continuing Resolution Keeps Funds Flowing
Congress was unable to complete most of the appropriations bills by September 30 and so passed and sent to the President a Continuing Resolution (CR) for fiscal year 2009 that would continue funding at fiscal year 2008 levels until March 6. A very few programs did get an increase, including the Women, Infant and Children’s (WIC) program, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Pell Grants, and some funds for relief for recent natural disasters. Child care, Head Start, and other education and human services programs were kept at 2008 levels during the CR.
The next Congress (2009 – 2010 will be the 111th Congress) and the next Administration will need to complete funding decisions for the remainder of fiscal year 2009 as they also begin work on the next federal budget. Advocates will need to continue to urge their members of Congress to make an additional significant investment in child care, Head Start, and other early childhood programs and services a funding priority.
NEW CHILD CARE BILLS INTRODUCED
While it is unlikely that Congress will complete much more legislation this year, it is encouraging to see members of Congress interested in early childhood education.
Representative Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin introduced a bill to amend the Child Care & Development Block Grant, called Starting Early Staring Right Act. This is the companion to the bill introduced earlier this year by Senator Casey of Pennsylvania. NAEYC is pleased that the bills would require the reimbursement rate equal or exceed the 75th percentile of the current market rate, raise the quality set aside to 15%, set aside 30% of grants to improve the quality and availability of infant and toddler care. The bill requests a significant increase in mandatory funding for CCDBG.
Senator Lincoln of Arkansas with Senator Smith of Oregon introduced the Child Care Investment Act of 2008. The bill would increase mandatory funds for CCDBG and calls for additional discretionary funds to implement quality initiatives.
HIGHER EDUCATION OPPORTUNITY ACT
The President signed into law the Higher Education Opportunity Act, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act with a name change. As we noted in previous email updates, the new Act contains new provisions that support the preparation of early childhood educators, expands loan forgiveness for prospective borrowers, and creates a program of grants to states for integrated, cross-sector professional development systems. The U.S. Department of Education will regulate on many parts of the Act. Typically during a Continuing Resolution, the agency does not make new grants. NAEYC will provide a summary of the provisions that relate to early childhood educators by the end of October.
The National Women’s Law Center released a new report comparing state child care policies from 2007 to 2008 in terms of income eligibility, co-payment requirements, provider reimbursement rates, and waiting lists. Some states made improvements, but many have not moved forward since 2001. Read about your states and other states.