The Road Ahead for Early Education in a Biden-Harris Administration

November 19, 2020

Joe Biden has been declared the winner of the election; although there are still some challenges to this news, regardless of partisan standing, most independent observers do not expect existing challenges to impact the election result. As we look forward toward the future, as we anticipate Biden taking the oath of office on January 20, we can also anticipate a new era for America and, for our purposes, education and the early childhood education profession in particular. The Council for Professional Recognition congratulates President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris as well as all the candidates who have been elected to office at the federal, state, and local levels.

At a time when our country can seem very divided, it is essential that we highlight something that brings us together — support for early childhood education. Research highlights Americans’ strong bipartisan support for many proposals that will help more families access high-quality early learning and care opportunities.

In fact, the deeply divided 116th Congress acted swiftly during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic in a bipartisan manner to provide $3.5 billion in emergency funds for childcare centers through the passage of the CARES Act.

Given the outcome of the presidential election, we highlight below some ways the new administration may impact the early childhood education profession:

  • President-Elect Biden is the first candidate to win the presidency with the expressed goal of universal pre-k for all three and four-year-olds. Discussing the proposal, Biden stated, “this investment will ease the burden on our families, help close the achievement gap, promote the labor participation of parents who want to work, and lift our critical early childhood education workforce out of poverty.”
  • President-Elect Biden’s education plan specifically states that he will “create more opportunities for high school students to take practical classes that lead to credentials. Biden will invest in and allow Pell grants to be used for dual enrollment programs, so high school students can take classes at a community college and earn college credits or a credential prior to graduating from high school. To date, over three-thousand high school students have achieved a CDA; we welcome President-Elect Biden’s proposed investments in career pathways to provide new, and expand existing, opportunities for high school students to attain a CDA.
  • Biden has also proposed new and increased child care tax credits for families so that they may be able to have increased availability for child care. However, these tax credits would need to be approved and enacted by Congress. The plan offers a refundable tax credit of up to $8000 for child care. Specifically:
    • Families will receive as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, up to $8,000 for one child or $16,000 for two or more children.
    • The full 50% reimbursement will be available to families making less than $125,000 a year, and families making between $125,000 and $400,000 will receive a partial credit.

Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris will be taking an active role in the administration and will surely help shape its early childhood education agenda. Harris has previously called education “a fundamental right” and, like Biden, has proposed increased funding for Head Start and a universal pre-k system.

The change in the administration also brings a new high-ranking advocate for the profession in the form of the future First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden. Dr. Biden has been an educator for over thirty years and has first-hand experience as an advocate for all who work in the field. Dr. Biden understands the commitment those in the profession make to the advancement and education of America’s next generation publicly stating, “teaching is not what I do. It is who I am.”

The Council and the entire early childhood education community looks forward to providing insights and perspectives as elected leaders work on these important issues that effect the country’s youngest learners and their families.

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