Increasing Head Start and Child Care Funding

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.

–Sara Mead

5 Replies to “Increasing Head Start and Child Care Funding”

  1. More billions for a program that has no academic benefit, while phasing out the DC voucher program. So much for making policy based on evidence!

  2. There is a lot of evidence demonstrating that Geoffrey Canada’s “Baby College,” when combined with other supports, makes a huge difference for the children it serves. Hopefully, the Head Start program will be expanded to include infants and toddlers.

    As for vouchers, many, if not most, American people don’t want their tax money given to private and parochial schools. Public school vouchers might be the way to go.

  3. Actually, Linda, according to a report released in January by the Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services just this past month (January 2010), the program shows almost no benefits past the 1st grade year, be they social or academic. You can read the report in its entirety here, if you like:

    I think it’s also important to remember that as many billions as the federal government pours into this, the states are matching with their own hundreds of millions per state.

  4. Head Start and similar programs for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, provide an oasis of safety, medical care, intellectual stimulation and pleasure for disadvantaged children. As a taxpayer, I’m more than willing to pay my share to provide this kind of program. I’m glad the Obama administration sees its benefits.

    As for educational research, well, let’s just say there is much room for improvement.

  5. Head Start is very important and extremely beneficial. If only everyone really understood the benefits of early education then I think we wouldn’t have to jump through so many loop holes to get the funding needed for these programs.

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