Casey, Vitter Lead Bipartisan Letter Calling on Appropriators to Reverse Course on Cuts to Preschool Development Grants

Senate, House Appropriators Have Zeroed Out Vital Pre-K Funding: Proposed Cuts Would Amount to $250M Cut from FY15, $750M from President’s Budget Proposal / Every Public Dollar Spent On High-Quality Preschool Returns Up To $16 Through A Reduced Need For Spending On Other Services

Casey, Vitter Lead Bipartisan Letter Calling on Appropriators to Reverse Course on Cuts to Preschool Development Grants

Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and David Vitter (R-LA) announced that they have led a bipartisan group of thirteen Senators on a letter calling on appropriators to reverse course on cuts to Preschool Development Grants. The Senate and House Committees on Appropriations have each approved separate funding bills that eliminate the program which would reduce opportunities for high quality, early education for over 100,000 children. The cuts would be a $250 million reduction from fiscal year 2015 (FY15) and would be $750 million less than requested in the President’s budget. Every public dollar spent on high-quality preschool returns up to $16 through a reduced need for spending on other services, such as remedial education, grade repetition, and special education, as well as increased productivity and earnings for these children as adults.  

The Senators wrote, “There is a tremendous unmet need for high-quality early learning throughout the country. Currently, fewer than three in ten 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program, and many states do not have the resources to provide such opportunities to the children most at-need for these programs. In 2014, 18 states out of 36 applicants were awarded federal four-year Preschool Development Grants that allowed thousands of additional children to access high-quality early learning in the first year.  However, funding was only provided for the first year of the grant program.  Cutting funding in the Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations bill will immediately impact the plans of these 18 states to continue forward in their efforts to improve and increase access to preschool in their state and could mean 48,000 fewer children would be served next year.” 

 

State

Year 3

Year 4

Total Additional Children not served if Program Eliminated (Y3+Y4)

Alabama

1,620

1,620

3,240

Arizona

3,044

3,478

6,522

Arkansas

7,194

7,194

14,388

Connecticut

712

712

1,424

Hawaii

360

360

720

Illinois

10,420

13,760

24,180

Louisiana

2,685

3,045

5,730

Maine

737

796

1,533

Maryland

2,833

2,833

5,666

Massachusetts

755

755

1,510

Montana

1,613

1,633

3,246

Nevada

2,700

2,990

5,690

New Jersey

1,681

1,977

3,658

New York

2,835

3,076

5,911

Rhode Island

864

864

1,728

Tennessee

3,740

3,746

7,486

Vermont

1,571

1,818

3,389

Virginia

3,107

3,139

6,246

Total

48,471

53,796

102,267

 

The full text of the Senators’ letter can be seen below and is attached:

Dear Chairman Cochran, Vice Chairwoman Mikulski, Chairman Rogers, and Ranking Member Rogers:

The Senate and House Committees on Appropriations have each approved separate spending bills for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies for Fiscal Year 2016.  We were disappointed to learn that both bills eliminate funding for the Preschool Development Grants program, which helps states create or expand existing preschool programs to increase access to high-quality preschool. We urge you to reconsider eliminating this important funding as we continue to see the benefits of investing in early childhood education.

There is a tremendous unmet need for high-quality early learning throughout the country. Currently, fewer than three in ten 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program, and many states do not have the resources to provide such opportunities to the children most at-need for these programs. In 2014, 18 states out of 36 applicants were awarded federal four-year Preschool Development Grants. However, funding was only provided for the first year of the grant program. Cutting funding in the Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations bill will immediately impact the plans of these 18 states to continue forward in their efforts to improve and increase access to preschool in their state.  The Department of Education estimates that 48,000 fewer children would be served if this funding is eliminated in Fiscal Year 16. 

Every public dollar spent on high-quality preschool returns up to $16 through a reduced need for spending on other services, such as remedial education, grade repetition, and special education, as well as increased productivity and earnings for these children as adults. These benefits are particularly strong for children from low-income families. Furthermore, law enforcement leaders consistently state that children who have early learning opportunities are less likely to be involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, benefitting both the children and their communities in later years.

We believe that a strong investment in the Preschool Development Grant program will allow states and school districts to further expand access to high-quality learning opportunities, which positively affects both the lives of these children and our communities. 

We therefore strongly urge you to consider reinstating funding this important and impactful program and we thank you for your consideration of this request.

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