Congress Finally Passed 2024 Appropriations. What’s in it for Child Care?

April 5, 2024

Congress just passed a new bill funding the government that includes big wins for child care. Here’s what was included:

According to CNN, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, or CCDBG, will see an increase of $725 million over the allotment it received for fiscal year 2023 (Luhby & Lobosco, 2024). This much-needed adjustment in the fund that provides child care assistance for low-income families will bring the total annual investment in CCDBG to nearly $9 billion. Head Start will now be funded at over $12 billion—an increase of $275 million. It’s also worth noting that funding for the Preschool Development Grant B-5 (PDG) program has been maintained at its previous level, despite being at risk of cuts.

In total, child care received an impressive $1 billion increase in funding.

It’s important to bring these numbers into context. While $275 million may seem like a lot, it’s less than you would think when applied at scale. The Head Start dollars will allow the program to offer its staff a 2.3% cost of living adjustment, or COLA (National Head Start Association, 2024)—a highly-welcomed increase that still falls short of accommodating recent rates of inflation (The White House, 2024). Additional funding is still needed: not just to accommodate inflation, but to pay all Head Start educators and staff at a level that recognizes their expertise and the difference they make for families and the economy.

For CCDBG, too, the added $725 million is an incredible boon; yet even with these new funds, the program is a long way from serving all families who are eligible. According to the Center for Law and Social Policy, funding levels in 2020 limited CCDBG to serving only 18% of eligible families (Schmit, 2024). This year’s 9% increase will help the program serve more people, but significant additional investment will be required to ensure needs are met for all eligible families and participating child care providers.

Of course, these numbers are only part of the broader federal funding picture. The field continues to grapple with the end of stabilization funding that occurred at the end of September last year and is facing further declines in funding when Child Care and Development Fund discretionary dollars expire this fall (Woods, 2024). To truly thrive, child care needs substantial and sustainable investment. Without it, families, providers, and the economy are paying the price—to the tune of $122 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue every year (ReadyNation, 2023).

The hard-won victories in 2024’s appropriations package recognize that child care is critical infrastructure for families and the economy. However, we must acknowledge that the work of advocating for funding levels that match families’ and providers’ needs is not yet done. As Congress embarks on the appropriations process again for fiscal year 2025, it is vital to urge them to build on these successes and fully fund child care.

Thank your legislators for fighting for child care and continue advocating here.



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