Statement on Continuing Resolution for FY2016


Continuing Resolution Passes Congress, Critical Funding Needs Remain Unresolved

Tomorrow marks the start of federal Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16), as Congress passed a “Continuing Resolution” (CR) for the first 10 weeks of the fiscal year, acting at the last possible minute to keep the government running until mid-December. Yet this short-term action can’t be counted as an accomplishment because the CR fails fundamentally to meet the resource needs of programs that support low-income families, as it temporarily continues last year’s inadequate funding levels—the lowest in a decade, adjusted for inflation—for all annually appropriated federal programs.

This marks an ominous start to the fiscal year for crucial services, such as child care, education, job training, and health care, that can help hard-working poor and low-income people lift themselves and their families to economic security. And while this short-term fix averts the disruption and severe consequences of an immediate government shutdown this week, it merely postpones the crucial decisions on funding for key priorities—setting the stage for yet another shutdown stand-off when the CR expires on December 11, 2015.

The consequences are grim if Congress fails over the coming weeks to sharply raise funding levels as it deliberates over the FY 2016 budget. For example:

  • Holding child care funding at its current levels means that fewer children will receive the stable and healthy child care they need to thrive and their parents need to succeed on the job. Recent data show that participation in child care funded through the Child Care and Development Block Grant program has fallen to a 16-year low, with just 1.4 million children being served in 2014, and spending at an 11-year low as of 2013.
  • Fewer workers will receive the skills training and postsecondary credentials they need to move toward better jobs, as the current funding levels for key adult and youth employment and training and adult education  programs are almost 6 percent lower than the amounts authorized in last year’s bipartisan reauthorization of the federal workforce development law. This continues a decline in funding for these programs of more than 30 percent in real terms over the past 15 years.
  • Communities of color have been hit especially hard by federal disinvestment in key programs such as child care, workforce training, and Head Start. Youth of color, particularly out of school youth, simply don’t have the resources they need to succeed, and young children cannot get the start they need and deserve without help. With children of color soon to be half of all children—and already half of children under five—their success matters deeply to America’s future.

To avoid devastating impacts on families and on America’s future, Congress must fully fund effective investments in education, employment, young children, and anti-poverty strategies like those just described, which in turn means putting an end to the arbitrary, devastating budget caps that go back into effect this fiscal year. These budget caps, established by the “sequestration” provision of the 2011 budget law, are steering Congress toward misguided disinvestment in essential priorities. In Fiscal Year 2016, these caps squeeze total domestic funding to just below last year’s levels—and far below both historical levels and what is needed.

And when total funding is insufficient, the budgets for key programs for low-income individuals and families will likely be harmed even more—as illustrated  by the proposals of the majority in Congress to make still deeper cuts for key child, youth, education, and anti-poverty priorities, as they strive to maintain overall flat funding levels for domestic appropriations under the caps. Last summer, for example, the House and Senate committees passed Fiscal Year 2016 appropriation bills for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Departments that cut more than $3.6 billion from Fiscal Year 2015 levels that were already too low. While these bills have not passed—and President Obama has pledged to veto them—the proposed cuts show what’s in store if the caps are not lifted.

These budget choices are particularly misguided given the reality of recently released Census Bureau numbers on poverty showing persistently high rates of poverty, particularly for America’s next generation of workers and citizens, including children (under 18) and young adults (ages 18 to 24). One in five children and young adults, and nearly one in four young children under age 5, was poor in 2014. A national response to poverty and economic insecurity among America’s next generation, and to the sharp racial disparities and inequality that undercut our future, is within our reach. We can drive down the damaging prevalence of poverty and economic insecurity if we make a national commitment to this goal. Such a commitment should start this fall, with the enactment of a federal budget that expands and invests in the crucial education, child care, safety net, and workforce development programs that stabilize families and promote success. Such a truly national commitment must also focus resources and attention on those who face the most barriers—children, youth, and families of color, immigrant families, and those whose opportunities are limited by pervasive poverty in their neighborhoods and communities.

Congress should act immediately to avoid another shutdown threat later this year, by negotiating a comprehensive budget deal that lifts the budget caps for annual appropriations in FY 2016 and future years, protects key mandatory safety net programs including Medicaid and SNAP, and fully funds priorities for the most vulnerable Americans.

Source: CLASP

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2012 Education Appropriations Guide


Congress completed the fiscal year 2012 appropriations process on December 17th, 2011, finalizing annual funding for federal education programs through September 30, 2012 at $68.1 billion, down $233 million from the prior year. It is the first year since 2007 that Congress did not increase total appropriations for education programs.

This issue brief is a helpful guide to the appropriations process and recently-enacted fiscal year 2012 education funding. It includes an analysis of funding for major education programs, an explanation of key budget developments and laws that shaped this year’s funding, and a retrospective timeline of the 2012 appropriations process. It also includes tables comparing 2012 funding to earlier House and Senate proposals, prior year funding levels, and the president’s 2012 budget request.

Source: New America Foundation

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House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity Hearing


Good morning Representative Biggert, Representative Gutierrez, members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony today on this very important subject. My name is Grace Whitney. I am a developmental psychologist and have worked in various capacities with very young children and their families for my entire career. For the past 15 years I have served as the director of the Head Start Collaboration Office in the State of Connecticut.

The Head Start Act provides for a network of State Collaboration Offices (one in each state and one each for American Indians and Alaskan Natives and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start) that connect Head Start with state systems that offer many of the services Head Start families need. State Collaboration Offices also share the resources and lessons learned in Head Start with state systems. The Head Start Act articulates the role of the State Collaboration Offices to develop partnerships with states in specific priority areas, one of which is children experiencing homelessness. In that vein, State Collaboration Offices work with service agencies providing homeless and housing services, including those funded by HUD. I began focusing on this priority area about ten years ago, when State Collaboration Offices were required to participate as Interagency Homeless Council members. I have been involved ever since.

Source: Insurance News

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Senate Panel Explores Need for Changes to Child Care Law


The quality and safety of child care was a key topic at a hearing held yesterday on Capitol Hill. A subcommittee in the U.S. Senate heard testimony on the need to update the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), a federal law overdue for reauthorization that provides funding to states to subsidize child care costs for low-income families.  Advocacy groups for children and working parents have pressed for the next iteration of the law to focus on improving families’ access to quality programs.

The hearing was convened by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chair of the Subcommittee on Children and Families in the Senate’s Health, Labor, Education and Pensions (HELP) Committee. It was the second time this year that the committee had gathered to discuss the topic; a meeting in June also pushed for the need to make changes to the law. Although yesterday’s hearing was sparsely attended (Sen. Mikulski explained the absence of all but four senators, saying the president’s anticipated address to Congress last night meant the members were busy during the day), the witnesses offered insights from diverse professional backgrounds in early education.

Source: Early Ed Watch, New America Foundation

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