The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education Joint Interdepartmental Review of All Early Learning Programs for Children Less Than 6 Years of Age
As the new administration begins outlining plans to reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over the next 10 years, a new report by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education underscores both the importance of federal programs providing early learning opportunities--and the failure of “multiple Congresses and Administrations” to invest sufficiently to meet the needs of children and families.
For example, the report states, 15 percent of eligible children receive assistance through CCDF and related programs; and Head Start serves 40 percent of eligible preschool-aged children. NIEER’s recently published State(s) of Head Start report indicates coverage is actually lower, because not all Head Start children are poor at entry and even more move out of poverty once in the program--a better measure of coverage indicates that only 25 percent of those in poverty might be enrolled -- and to make matters worse enrollment is much lower in some states such as Nevada, for example--to top it off,funding per child often is inadequate.
To address the gaps in access and quality facing families and children, The Joint Interdepartmental Review of All Early Learning Programs for Children Less Than 6 Years of Age calls for:
- Expanding access to quality, affordable child care through the Childcare Development Block Grant;
- Increasing the duration of Head Start programs and invest in high-quality infant and toddler care;
- Partnering with states to support voluntary, universal preschool; and
- Supporting specialized services to ensure young children with disabilities receive the supports they need.
"A wealth of research on the economic, education, and social benefits of early learning makes a compelling case for investing in high-quality early learning, especially for children in low-income families...,” the report states.
“The federal efforts to coordinate and streamline are valuable in helping states and local providers, but they are not a solution or a substitute for the level of investment that is needed to expand access and quality so that all children in low- and moderate-income families will have voluntary access to high-quality early learning and care that prepares them for success in school and in life."