Early learning has getting more attention in Washington, D.C., and this week brought a couple of pieces of good news.
First, yesterday afternoon the House passed the Early Learning Challenge Fund, which would provide $8 billion over the next eight years to improve early learning programs. This funding would help states deliver high-quality programs to thousands of young children, preparing them to succeed in school. As we've written here before, the Early Learning Challenge Fund is written into a much larger bill about reforming student aid. That bill now heads to the Senate.
Secondly, the Baucus health reform bill currently contains $1.5 billion to support home visiting programs over five years. These are the programs that offer support, mentoring, and other resources to parents who may have a toughter time because they're young, low-income, or lack strong family or community connections. While there's much to dislike in the Baucus bill (see our statement about health reform), the home visiting provision is a glimmer of good. Paul Nyhan wrote up a nice summary on his Birth to Thrive blog
In the past legislative session, state lawmakers took about $1.5 million out of home vising programs, so any boost in federal aid sure would help.