Another email from Patricia Cole in my inbox…she’s excited…I’m excited…we should all be excited for babies and toddlers!
From Ms. Cole:
Today, it just keeps getting better for babies! We are now free to announce that theSenate version of the Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013 dramatically increases funding for the Early Learning Quality Partnerships (for Early Head Start and child care programs working together), proposing $4 billion in funding for 2014. This sum is almost three times the amount in both the House bill, used as the basis of our summary earlier today, and in the President’s budget. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the bill’s lead sponsor, has been a tireless champion for babies, noting in his statement about the bill that “Learning begins at birth, and the preparation for learning begins before birth.”
According to the Senate bill summary, this amount, if appropriated, would result in a dramatic fivefold increase in the number of infants and toddlers receiving Early Head Start services, from less than 4% to about 20% of eligible children. We need to remember, however, that this bill is just a proposal. And an authorization is simply a recommended level of funding for the appropriators who hold the keys to the actual money. So there is a long way to go before EHS expansion and improved child care quality become a reality.
Still, truly changing the odds for babies and toddlers who are at risk requires first, an understanding of the need and then a vision for meeting it. With their proposal to significantly expand positive early learning opportunities for the youngest children, Senator Harkin and his Senate cosponsors have supplied that vision and laid out a pathway to realize the goal.
In our earlier alert, we asked you to take time out to contact your Members of Congressabout the budget and early learning. If you are as thrilled as we are about this development in the Senate, we encourage you also to express your thanks to Senator Harkin for being a really Big Voice for Little Kids®!