My former colleague Lisa Guernsey has an informative post up on her blog about the Obama administration’s 2011 Head Start funding request. Head Start received an additional $1 billion a year for 2009 and 2010 in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Obama administration’s FY2011 budget request includes increased Head Start funding to sustain these investments–a contrast from the “cliff” facing states and districts next year at the K-12 level when stimulus funds run out.
ARRA investments in Head Start and federal child care programs, which the administration is also seeking FY2011 funding to sustain even after the stimulus runs out, haven’t gotten a lot of attention in education policy circles–But they should! If Congress funds these programs at the requested levels next year, this will actually mean an big percentage increase in annual federal early care and education spending, and an absolute increase more than twice as large as funding that would be provided under the proposed Early Learning Challenge Grant program (a part of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act currently stuck in the Senate), which has gotten more attention. The long-term impacts of these increases will, of course, depend on the quality of programs they fund.
The administration isn’t just seeking increased Head Start funding, it’s also moving forward (albeit slowly) with reforms required under the 2007 Head Start reauthorization to improve Head Start quality and outcomes. It’s too early yet to say whether these efforts will amount to anything, though. Lisa’s been doing a great job covering Head Start, including the ARRA funding and administration reform efforts, so if you’re at all interested in these issues–and you should be!–I recommend following her blog.