Public Policy Reports and Updates
Public Policy Update
How Federal Legislation Impacts
Early Childhood Programs in Maryland:
A Briefing Paper Prepared for Maryland’s Congressional Delegation, 2013
Maryland has one of the better early childhood education systems in the United States, as is evidenced by our receipt in 2012 of a Federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant, as well as the strong record of improvement in school readiness of children entering Kindergarten, from 2002 (49%) to 2012 (83%). We thank you for helping to make this progress possible but Maryland’s children and families continue to have unmet needs.
Maryland’s early childhood system, and the young children and families it serves, are in peril due to State and Federal funding cuts. We need even stronger support from Maryland’s U. S. Senators and Representatives to continue the remarkable progress we have made. Maryland’s present and future economic prosperity depend on the continued improvement of this system. Our young children’s future is largely in your hands.
1. Eliminate the Sequestration
The March 1 sequester is having devastating effects on Maryland’s early childhood system. Our child care subsidy system, is face an additional $3.9 million dollar cut under sequestration, putting families’ ability to work at risk and children’s readiness for kindergarten in jeopardy. The keystone of our Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge initiative, the Maryland EXCELS quality rating and improvement system, is being undermined because the training and other quality supports are largely federal funded and the already skeleton staffs and inadequate funding are compromised even more by sequestration. Head Start services will be available to more than a thousand fewer poverty-level children. Home visiting, WIC, and other services that provide a good start to life have comparable cuts. We need you to do your best to restore the funding to these areas and not seek deficit reduction through further cuts to the programs that provide services for low and moderate income children and families. .
2. Support the President’s Early Childhood Initiative.
Maryland is slightly ahead of the curve in meeting the President’s goal of having preschool available for all 4 year olds in families under 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, and is providing the other services for younger children that the President’s plan provides. But we need a larger Federal funding commitment in order to meet both the quality and access objectives spelled out in the President’s plan. Short staffing is requiring a triage that treats only the most dramatic cases of need for a host of early childhood services in Maryland. The returns on investment for quality early childhood services are possible here, but they will require much more investment in the infrastructure. Maryland has a Pre-school For All Business Plan that promotes a diverse delivery system that would include pre-k at existing child care programs in the community. We urge you to build on that diverse delivery system in any new federal program.
3. Reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCBDG) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Maryland’s economically challenged families need funding for child care so that they can find jobs and remain employed. All children deserve access to high quality early care and education programs so that they can be successful for school and life. Strong evidence exists to show that the best investment of public dollars is the high return invested in early childhood education. The reforms in child care – more children served and higher quality programs – will require additional resources. For the early grades, the ESEA reauthorization should use the research on child development to promote appropriate standards, teaching practices, and support for teachers and principals to provide developmentally appropriate, effective instruction and services.