Head Start Among Programs Boosted in Proposed White House Budget

By Christina A. Samuels — February 09, 2016 2 min read
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The Obama administration’s proposed budget for fiscal 2017 would provide more money for early-childhood efforts through a variety of programs.

Head Start, which provides early-education programs for children from low-income families, would be funded at $9.6 billion in the budget proposal, a boost of $434 million over the previous fiscal year. The money would be used to support expansion of Early Head Start (which serves pregnant women and children up to age 3) as well as the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. Those partnerships link federal Early Head Start programs with private providers in an effort to increase the number of high-quality child-care slots. The increase would also be used to help more programs develop a full-year, full-day program.

In special education, the federal budget would allocate $504 million for infants and children through age 2 with disabilities or at risk of developing disabilities, an increase of $45 million. For programs serving children with disabilities ages 3 to 5, the budget proposes $403 million, an increase of $35 million. (I’ve written a separate blog post that offers more details on the special education provisions of the budget proposal.)

The proposal would provide an additional $400 million in the upcoming fiscal year to the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, or MIECHV. That program provides federal dollars to states, which combine the money with state funds to pay for nurses and other trained workers to make home visits to families who face economic and social struggles.

[UPDATE (Feb. 10): Home visiting also shows up in the proposed budget for the Department of Agriculture, which would spend $20 million for a new home-visiting program for families living in poor rural counties.]

The budget proposal would spend $350 million on Preschool Development Grants, an increase of $100 million over fiscal 2016. That money includes the fourth and final year of a grant program that awarded money to 18 states; it would also help pay for the new Preschool Development Grant program authorized under the newly reauthorized version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Though the programs share the same name, the new grant program will be housed at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, instead of the Education Department. The new grant also has looser requirements than the program it is replacing.

The Child Care and Development Block Grant would see an additional $200 million in discretionary spending, raising that to about $3 billion in the proposal. That money is intended to help programs with the new health and safety regulations that Congress passed in late 2014. An additional $6.6 billion would go to states in mandatory child-care entitlement funds. The proposed budget asks for an additional $82 billion over 10 years, so that families under 200 percent of the federal poverty level (about $48,500 for a family of four) would be eligible for child-care assistance for their young children.

File Photo: Avance staff member Yesica Gonzalez, in white blouse, leads an exercise during a 2013 home visit with Rosa Martinez and her children, Lillian, 4 months, and Aaliyah, 2, in Del Rio, Texas.—Jennifer Whitney for Education Week

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.