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Happy New Year from Early Childhood Associates! January has been a busy month for our team. We thank our clients for the stimulating projects.

While engrossed in our work, we have also kept an eye on national public policy.  There have been two notable developments in national early childhood policy so far this month:

1. Increase of $1.5 Billion for Early Childhood Programs in 2014

The federal bi-partisan spending bill signed into law by President Obama on January 17th will increase spending on early childhood programs in 2014 by roughly $1.5 billion.  Highlights include a $1.025 billion increase in funding for Head Start, and $158 million total for the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant program, which funds local educational agencies and early childhood providers for literacy professional development and support for children from birth to kindergarten. For more information, check out the NAEYC’s Children’s Champions Alert. http://www.naeyc.org/policy/federal/1_27_14

2. National Momentum for Pre-K Expansion

In his 2014 State of the Union Address on January 28th, President Obama echoed his 2013 SOTU address by again urging Congress to enact major, early- childhood initiative that would provide states with incentives to expand pre-kindergarten to more 4-year-olds, improve program quality, and increase access to Head Start.  Many of these initiatives are in the “Strong Start For America’s Children Act,” introduced by Senator Tom Harkin, Representative George Miller and Representative Richard Hanna in November 2013 (http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th/senate-bill/1697), although there are some differences between it and the President’s proposal (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/11/house_and_senate_preschool_bil.html).  The current version of the proposed legislation would expand early learning opportunities from birth through age five, focusing on home visiting, Early Head Start partnerships and preschool program grants to states.

Whether this legislation makes it beyond House and Senate committee hearings for a vote remains to be seen.  Even so, we are delighted to see that early education and care continues to gain momentum and offers new opportunities for supporting children’s optimal development.

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