President, House Republicans Diverge on Funding Priorities for Children’s Programs

With significant cuts to child care programs on the agenda in California, competing federal budget proposals have the potential to either lessen or deepen the impact of the Governor’s proposed reductions. President Obama’s proposed budget for federal fiscal year (FFY) 2012 includes a $1.3 billion increase for child care and an $865 million increase for the Head Start Program, which provides services to more than 900,000 low-income children each year – including roughly 100,000 in California – to help boost school readiness. California would receive $148 million of the new child care funds and $98 million of the additional Head Start funds, according to estimates prepared by Federal Funds Information for States (FFIS). These funding increases would soften the impact of state budget cuts by supporting nearly 20,000 child care slots and more than 10,000 Head Start slots that could be filled by California children who would otherwise lose access to child care and development programs due to state funding reductions.

In contrast to the President’s approach, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives proposes deep cuts to a range of services for the remainder of FFY 2011, which ends September 30, including a $1.1 billion (15 percent) cut to Head Start funding. California’s estimated share of the Head Start reduction would be $131 million, according to FFIS. A cut of this magnitude would cause roughly 17,000 California children to be dropped from Head Start. In addition, House Republicans propose to cut federal child care funding by $39 million for the remainder of FFY 2011, with California’s share of this reduction exceeding $4 million.

Child care is more important than ever as parents struggle to find or hold on to jobs in the wake of the Great Recession, as we noted in our recent child care “chartbook.” Only the President’s approach moves the nation – and California – in the right direction.

— Scott Graves