Government Services

Report: Need for Federal Investments in Early Learning Increasing

While many have argued that the federal government sponsors too many childhood and early learning programs, a recent analysis of federal programs by the Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) indicates otherwise.

The new report says investments in early learning are not meeting the needs of families across the nation, and many eligible families are not receiving services.

The report, “The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education Joint Interdepartmental Review of All Early Learning Programs for Children Less Than 6 Years of Age,” reviewed all federal programs identified by the Government Accountability Office and concluded that only eight programs have the primary purpose of promoting early learning for children from birth to age 6:

  1. Child Care and Development Fund
  2. Head Start
  3. Early Head Start
  4. Preschool Development Grants
  5. Department of Defense Child Development Program
  6. Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  7. Part B, Section 619 of the IDEA
  8. Family and Child Education (FACE)

Each program provides critical services for children and families, according to the report and an ED blog, and they often work together to help meet the diverse needs of children from birth through age 5.

The report and blog argue that these federal investments in early learning are not duplicative, but rather synergistic and recognize the diversity of children’s and working families’ needs.

The report discusses the Obama Administration’s efforts to reduce fragmentation and maximize the current and future investments to increase the quality of and access to early learning for children from birth to kindergarten.

The eight early learning programs discussed in the report receive far less funding than is needed to serve all or even most eligible children or provide the level of resources needed to support and sustain high-quality services to ensure all children have a strong foundation of learning, the blog asserts. For example: Only 4 percent of income-eligible infants and toddlers are receiving Early Head Start services and only 40 percent of income eligible preschool-aged children are enrolled in Head Start.

To view or obtain a copy of the report, visit this site.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].