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Early Ed Watch

A Blog from New America's Early Education Initiative

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Early Learning in the President’s 2014 Budget Request

Published:  April 10, 2013

Updated 4/10/2013 5:00 PM to reflect newly published information about the state matching portion of the Preschool for All plan.

President Obama released his fiscal year 2014 budget request earlier today, which would include $75.0 billion* over 10 years for his “Preschool for All” proposal. On top of this, the president proposes other boosts for early learning, including funding increases for Head Start, Child Care and Development Block Grants, IDEA special education programs, and the home visiting program. He also proposes budget increases to several other programs under the Department of Education that could support early learning.

The budget still doesn’t include many details on Preschool for All. Housed in the Department of Education, the initiative would be a federal-state partnership to provide high-quality, full-day preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families (those below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, according to a fact sheet issued in February). In addition, the President’s proposal includes $750 million in discretionary funding to help states build capacity for implementing high-quality programs through new Preschool Development Grants. The budget is mostly silent on what would define a high-quality program. Although, corresponding documents from the Department of Education do mention quality standards, including full-day programs, small class szies, and low child-adult ratios.

States would be required to contribute 5 to 10 percent matches in the early years (the match requirement is lower if the state plans to serve children above 200 percent of the federal poverty level), and as much as 250 to 300 percent in a decade. The federal government would provide $75 billion in mandatory funding over the next decade, beginning with $1.3 billion for fiscal year 2014 and increasing over the next several years. This funding would come from a 94-cent increase in the federal tobacco tax, and as mandatory spending, would not be subject to the annual congressional appropriations process. All states would be eligible for the program, but would have to meet a Department of Education standard (not yet defined) to receive the funds.

At a Department of Education budget briefing today, Carmel Martin, Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development,said that school districts would be required to be a partner regardless of where the pre-K program is provided, at a public elementary school or at a community provider.

In addition to the pre-K partnership, the president’s budget would increase other funding for federal early learning efforts as well. A new Early Head Start-child care partnership program, funded with $1.4 billion in federal money in FY2014, would expand child care access and improve quality, though no other details are available on the program.


The budget would continue to provide funding for child care subsidies with $2.5 billion in discretionary funds and $3.4 billion in mandatory spending in FY 2014. That discretionary funding would include a $200 million set-aside to improve child care quality. In addition, the budget would extend the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program (originally authorized under the healthcare law passed in 2010 and set to expire after 2014) with another $15.0 billion over 10 years.

Other programs in the Department of Education that could see an increase are School Improvement Grants, Promise Neighborhoods, grants to support states’ efforts to build longitudinal data systems, and grants to recruit, retain and support effective teachers. Title I grants for economically disadvantaged students and IDEA special education grants for preschool and for states would all be funded at FY 2013 levels, but Part C, Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers, would receive a $20 million increase.

The president’s budget request is, of course, rarely adopted in its original form. This year, it may be even more of an uphill battle -- it comes two months after the statutory deadline, and weeks after the House and Senate each passed budget resolutions (though they have yet to pass a joint resolution). The budget request is a good indicator, however, of the president’s priorities for the next fiscal year – the first of his second term in office – and early learning has clearly made the cut.

Check back with Early Ed Watch for additional information and analysis in the coming weeks.


*The figure for spending on Preschool for All comes from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) appendix for the Department of Education's budget. It includes $1.3 billion in spending in fiscal year 2014. That figure refers to budget authority; budget outlay estimates from OMB are lower.


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