Did Early Childhood Make the Agenda?

It’s been a week of policy announcements! 

It’s the legislative season – the 114th Congress has convened, as has the North Carolina General Assembly. The speeches have started and organizations are announcing their legislative agendas. We’ve pulled together a round-up of the early childhood policies being proposed.

White House Proposes Comprehensive Child Care Plan
Early childhood issues were a prominent platform of the President’s State of the Union address and on Wednesday the White House proposed a plan to make affordable, quality child care available to every working and middle-class family with young children. The proposal includes:

  • Expanding access to child care assistance for all eligible families (incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line, approximately $40,000 for a family of three) with children under four years of age, within ten years.
  • Providing a child care tax credit of up to $3,000 per child.
  • Improving the quality of child care by providing states resources to implement reforms passed as part of the reauthorization of the Child Care & Development Block Grant.
  • Funding competitive grants to develop, implement and evaluate models of providing child care to address the unmet needs for families who face unique challenges to securing child care (e.g., families in rural communities, families who have children with disabilities, or parents who work non-traditional hours).

Secretary of Education Calls for No Child Left Behind to Expand Preschool
Top of the agenda for House and Senate Education Committee Chairs is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly called No Child Left Behind. In a speech highlighting the Administration’s priorities, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called for an expansion of preschool as part of any ESEA reauthorization.

“I believe that every single child deserves the opportunity for a strong start in life through high-quality preschool, and expanding those opportunities must be part of ESEA,” Secretary Duncan said.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee released a draft bill for discussion. The current draft does not expand early childhood education. Senator Alexander is requesting public input on the draft bill by
Monday, February 2. Email FixingNCLB@help.senate.gov. Comments will be shared with all members of the Senate Committee.

NC Child and Education Groups Release Policy Agendas

At a standing-room-only event, the Public School Forum of North Carolina released their top ten education issues for 2015. Issues ranged from teacher compensation to standards to school choice.

NC Child’s legislative agenda includes promoting early literacy and calls for a statewide strategy that starts at birth and continues through third grade.

The NC Child Care Coalition’s legislative agenda calls on the General Assembly to prioritize investments and policies that support North Carolina’s early education system. Issues include maintaining high quality child care, revising child care subsidy policy, expanding NC PreK and increasing child care subsidy reimbursement rates.

The North Carolina School Board Association’sagenda includes expanding access to NC PreK among its priorities.

The North Carolina Association of School Administrators’ agenda has six key points that range from teacher compensation to standards and accountability.

The North Carolina School Superintendents Association released the North Carolina Guide to Strengthening Our Public Schools. Among the strategies proposed, it calls for expanding pre-kindergarten programs by broadening eligibility requirements to serve more 3- and 4-year olds.