U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Bob Casey, Mazie Hirono Lead 39 Colleagues in Push for More Early Childhood Education and Childcare Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) led 39 of their colleagues in a push to increase funding for childcare programs and early education in the FY2025 Appropriations bill. The Senators noted that $16 can be produced in benefits for every $1 spent on high-quality early education. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) also signed the letter.

“High-quality, affordable child care and early childhood education remains out of reach for many families. In more than half of states in our country, the average annual cost of full-time, center-based child care is more expensive than the average annual cost of in-state college tuition,” wrote the Senators.“Half of Americans live in places with a shortage of licensed child care providers or slots, which particularly affects rural populations. While these workforce shortages have existed for years, these issues have only been exacerbated by the pandemic and its aftermath. Now is the time to increase the federal investment in early care and education and help all children achieve their full potential.”

“Access to childcare and early education is essential, both for the safe and healthy development of our kids, and because it allows parents the freedom to pursue their careers and contribute to the economy,” said Senator Smith. “But right now, childcare is too expensive and inaccessible for too many families. I am proud to help lead this letter that calls for significant investments in childcare and early education for our kids in the next fiscal year.”

The letter specifically requests:

1.    Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) – An additional $3.65 billion (for a total of $12.4 billion), which will expand the base CCDBG budget to help grow the supply and availability of care for more families.

2.    Head Start – An additional $3.39 billion (for a total of $15.67 billion) to sustain and support the Head Start workforce, provide flexibility to address local quality improvement priorities, address incidents of childhood trauma, support the expansion of Early Head Start and Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships, and restore critical and restore critical purchasing power while addressing deferred maintenance issues and facility constraints.

3.    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – An additional $434.8 million for early intervention services provided under IDEA Part C (for a total of $974.8 million) and $263 million for preschool special education services under Part B, Section 619 (for a total of $683 million). This funding is essential to ensure that young children with disabilities are ready to learn when they enter school.

4.    Preschool Development Grants Birth through Five (PDG B-5) program – An additional $185 million (for a total of $500 million) to support states’ and territories’ efforts to increase the quality and efficiency of existing early learning programs and systems. 

The letter was signed by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Peter Welch (D-VT), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Angus King (I-ME), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jon Tester (D-MT), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Laphonza Butler (D-CA).

A full copy of the letter can be read here.