Looking for our new site?

Early Ed Watch

A Blog from New America's Early Education Initiative

< Back to the Education Policy Program

Obama’s FY11 Budget Requests a Boost for Early Childhood Programs

Published:  February 2, 2010

Poring over budgets is not typically a fun exercise in hard economic times, especially for those in early childhood fields who typically see cuts. But Obama’s budget offers a real contrast. Under the administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2011, child care programs and Head Start would both receive a significant boost in funding.

The administration has requested an additional $989 million in funding for Head Start, and an additional $1.6 billion for federally funded child care programs. The potential boost for Head Start is eight times more than the modest $122 million increase the program received last year. (And even more than the increase Obama had proposed last year). Here’s what spending looks like for 2010 and what has been requested for 2011 for the Department of Health and Human Services:

Major Early Childhood Programs in HHS Budget (in millions)
Head Start (incl. Early Head Start)
Child Care Entitlement to States
Source: Department of HHS
The Department of Education budget requests changes to early learning programs too, but it is not yet clear what they will mean to programs that focus on pre-K through the 3rd grade. For example, the education budget consolidates 38 education programs into 11, and literacy programs are part of the restructuring. They will be subsumed into a broader program called Effective Teaching and Learning. This broader program will have three sections: 1) literacy, 2) science, math, engineering and technology (STEM); and 3) programs that the administration says provide a “well-rounded education,” such as history, art, and economics.
Details are still to come on how the literacy program will work and what types of initiatives it will fund. One of our questions, noted in the Federal Education Budget Project’s “Key Questionsreleased yesterday, is whether literacy programs for the PreK-3rd grades will occupy a critical place in this program designed to reach from pre-K through 12th grade. But it’s encouraging to see that the budget request is substantial: The administration has requested $450 million to rework $413 million worth of initiatives. Here are the programs that the Department of Education plans to fold under the literacy umbrella:
Literacy programs 
program expenditures in millions
Effective teaching and learning: Literacy (proposed)
Early Reading First
Striving readers
Even start
Literacy through school libraries
National writing project
Reading is fundamental/Inexpensive book distribution
Ready-to-learn television
Total for literacy programs
Source: U.S. Department of Education
The Education budget also supports the Early Learning Challenge Fund, which has been passed by the House as part of the Student Aid and Financial Responsibility Act but has not yet been taken up by the Senate. In the House version, the program would be funded at $1 billion a year for eight years. In Obama’s budget, the funding is described as $9.3 billion over 10 years.
Early Ed Watch and our sister blog, Ed Money Watch, will be analyzing the budget in detail this week. Stay tuned for more details.

P.S. You may also be interested in our post last week on Obama's proposal to increase the tax credit for child care expenses.

Join the Conversation

Please log in below through Disqus, Twitter or Facebook to participate in the conversation. Your email address, which is required for a Disqus account, will not be publicly displayed. If you sign in with Twitter or Facebook, you have the option of publishing your comments in those streams as well.