On Tuesday, Feb. 12, President Barack Obama advocated for universal pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) as part of his State of the Union address to Congress. While the finer details will have to wait for the release of the President’s budget next month, some of the basic outlines have been released by the White House.
The proposal would attempt to reach all families below 200 percent of the poverty line and create a matching fund program with states. It would also build on Early Head Start and Head Start with proposed funding for a new Early Head Start-Child Care partnership. Competitive grants will support communities that expand the availability of Early Head Start and child care providers that can meet the highest standards of quality for infants and toddlers, serving children from birth through age three.
In addition, Obama is expected to push for extending and expanding evidence-based, voluntary home visiting. The programs enable nurses, social workers, and other professionals to connect families to services and educational support through the home visiting model.
Voluntary home visiting programs are a component of the Affordable Care Act, with funding at $400 million in this fiscal year and next. The program must be extended by Congress after 2014.
Few programs and new proposals make their way into a State of the Union address, and no president has give this level of attention to Pre-K as a priority. In addition, the President spent last Thursday highlighting the issue in some post-State of the Union follow-up visits in Georgia and Illinois.
Also in this week’s edition of Capitol View
- This week is the deadline for comments on foster youth in Affordable Care Act
- The Senate passed Violence Against Women Act; House’s turn now
- March 27 could be the day we reach fiscal calamity
- New members of the House Ways and Means’ Human Resources Subcommittee
John Sciamanna is a strategic consultant on child welfare policy and legislation. Complete copies of the newsletter Capitol View on Kids are available through membership in the National Foster Care Coalition (www.nationalfostercare.org ) or the National Child Abuse Coalition (www.nationalchildabuse.org ).
For more information on either coalition, email: [email protected]