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White House Budget Proposal Continues Early-Childhood Efforts

The White House has released a synopsis of what it's seeking from Congress in its 2016 budget request for education, and programs for young children figure to be a major focus. 

Here's a taste of what's been proposed on the early-childhood front:

  • As mentioned in his State of the Union address, the president wants to see the Child and Dependent Care Credit expand to $3,000 a year from its current $1,000 a year. The credit would be available to families earning up to $120,000 a year. A fact sheet that accompanied the State of the Union address said the president's budget would also eliminate workplace child-care flexible spending accounts (described as "complex and duplicative incentives") which allow some employees to put aside up to $5,000 tax-free to pay for dependent care expenses. 
  • The budget would devote an additional $1.6 billion for the Child Care and Development Fund, which would create 235,000 child-care slots for low- and moderate-income families; the White House says this is the largest one-year increase in 20 years.
  • The Preschool Development Grants, currently funded at $250 million, would receive an additional $500 million. Currently 18 states are getting money to create or expand programs for 4-year-olds, and the additional money should bring that number up to 40 states, the White House says.
  • The Preschool for All Initiative, the 10-year, $75 billion proposal that was first brought forward in the president's 2013 State of the Union address, makes a reappearance.
  • The Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grants would see an increased investment, from $500 million in fiscal 2015 to $650 million in fiscal 2016. This partnership offers Early Head Start funds to private providers, in return for those providers meeting rigorous federal standards. Head Start itself would also see an increase of about $1 billion, which would allow the program to expand all of its offerings to at least six hours a day and 170 days a year.
  • The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program would see $500 million in the fiscal 2016 budget proposal, though advocates want to see action taken sooner on that program, which will sunset at the end of March unless Congress approves an extension.Currently $1.9 billion has been invested in the program, which sends trained workers to the homes of families facing a variety of social or economic challenges.

And if you're interested in K-12 proposals, my colleagues at Politics K-12 have an extensive blog post covering the budget proposals for programs such as Title I or high school redesign.

The obvious question is, what is the likelihood these early-childhood proposals will come to fruition? The common refrain around Washington is that the proposals are dead on arrival, but the Preschool Development Grants, the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grants, and MIECHV are programs that already exist, and so might find an easier path to renewal or expansion.  

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