CLC Letter to John Spratt & Paul Ryan
April 6, 2011
Dear Chairman Spratt and Ranking Member Ryan:
On behalf of America’s leading advocates for children and their families, we are writing to express our strong support for the federal fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) budget proposal submitted by President Barack Obama. We encourage you to adopt a congressional budget resolution that makes the requisite room for the elements of the president’s budget that are critical for America’s children and youth.
Supporting children is not simply the right thing to do; it is one of the smartest investments we can make for our nation’s future. By strengthening programs that are proven to work, we can make our children healthier, better educated, safer, and more secure. When we prepare young people for success in school, work, and life, we pave the way for our country’s next generation of workers and leaders. The need now is greater than ever, with one in five children living in poverty, and nearly 10 percent of children living in deep poverty.
The Children’s Leadership Council (CLC) recognizes and applauds the leadership demonstrated by President Obama on renewing the nation’s investment in children, as evidenced by his proposed FY2011 budget. President Obama has built an important foundation; anything below it will reduce the gains for children in this budget. There are also several areas in which Congress can improve upon the president’s budget proposal. Taken together, CLC recommends that Congress adopt a budget resolution that fully makes room for the following investments in America’s children:
A Strong Start
- Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) – The President's budget proposes a historic $1.6 billion increase for a total of $6.644 billion in FY2011. CCDBG funds help millions of families afford child care and improves the quality of care. The additional funding would provide child care to 235,000 children who would otherwise not receive assistance.
- Head Start and Early Head Start – The President's budget proposes a nearly $1 billion increase to a total of $8.2 billion. Head Start/Early Head Start delivers high-quality, comprehensive early learning experiences for young children who would otherwise enter school less prepared to succeed. The proposed increase would reach nearly 1 million preschool-age children in Head Start, and allow Early Head Start to serve approximately 116,000 infants and toddlers.
- Early Learning Challenge Fund – We welcome a chance to work with you to identify funding for this initiative which was approved by the House, but unable to be funded due to constraints within the savings in the student lending bill. The House –passed challenge fund legislation would provide $1 billion a year to improve the quality of early learning programs serving children from birth to kindergarten entry. More than 11 million children spend time outside the care of their parents every day. This bold initiative challenges states to develop a cross-sector, high quality system and to help more low-income children benefit from high quality programs.
- Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit – The President’s budget would make child care more affordable for millions of middle-class families by nearly doubling the value of the credit for families with incomes up to $85,000. Making the credit refundable, in addition, would enable lower-income families – including families whose incomes are too high for them to receive child care subsidies but too low to take full advantage of a nonrefundable credit – to receive much-needed assistance with child care expenses.
- Evidence-Based Home Visiting – Although not included in the President’s budget, the congressional budget resolution should include funding to restore the $13 million in CAPTA discretionary research and demonstration grants designed to support evidence based home visiting – funds eliminated from the FY2010 consolidated appropriations bill.
Keeping Children Healthy
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – The President’s budget provides $10.5 billion for CHIP. The President also proposes to increase CHIP enrollment by 7 percent (more than 500,000 children) by 2011, an important commitment to reach children who are already eligible but remain uninsured.
- Medicaid Enhancements to Help States Respond to the Recession – As the recession has cost more and more families their employer-sponsored health insurance, Medicaid enrollment has increased nationwide. The President’s budget proposes $25 billion to extend for six months enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage payments to states, which have allowed states to largely prevent children from becoming uninsured since these payments were enacted through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
- Healthy Start – The President proposes a $5 million increase in Healthy Start funding. Healthy Start delivers just that, with prenatal care, basic health care for newborns, parenting education and supports that reduce infant mortality rates and help babies avoid health problems that could otherwise become lifelong obstacles to success.
Strong, Supportive Families
- Family Tax Credits – The President’s budget would make permanent improvements to the Child Tax Credit (CTC), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). These reforms would allow the CTC and the EITC to continue to benefit a broader range of working families and maintain improved benefits, and the AOTC enhancement would continue to make college more affordable for kids in low-wage working families. The Child Tax Credit should also be refundable to the first dollar earned; this would strengthen the provision in the President’s proposed budget that provides the refundable credit starting at $3,000 of family earnings.
- Child Nutrition – The President proposes $1 billion a year for ten years in new funding to improve school meals, summer food, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and other critical nutrition services for kids. In addition to the obvious health and development benefits, reducing childhood hunger through these investments would improve children’s readiness to focus on learning and excel in the classroom.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – The President proposes new funding of $2.5 billion for the TANF Emergency Fund, to strengthen basic supportive services for families and help parents who lost their jobs because of the recession find new employment. The President also proposes $500 million for the Fatherhood, Marriage and Family Innovation Fund.
- Child Support Enforcement – The President’s budget would hold parents accountable and help meet children’s basic needs, by maintaining ARRA’s commitment to restoring the federal partnership with states operating effective child support enforcement efforts.
- Adoption Assistance – The President proposes a 50% ($10 million) increase in funding for the Adoption Opportunities Grant, and a $3 million increase in funding for Adoption Incentives Grants. These investments will eliminate barriers to adoption and to move older children, and others with special needs out of foster care and into permanent families.
- Safer Homes and More Effective Responses to Domestic Violence – The President proposes a $10 million increase in child abuse prevention funding, which will launch a new competitive grant program encouraging states to implement evidence-based practices for preventing child abuse and neglect. The President also proposes an additional $11 million for Family Violence Prevention and Service programs, which will expand shelter capacity and support services and provide help to children who witness domestic violence and improve the responsiveness of the Domestic Violence Hotline.
- The National Caregiver Support Program – The President’s proposal provides $52.5 million toward the national Family Caregiver Support Program to fund caregiver services and the Lifespan Respite program. The National Family Caregiving Support Program is an important source of funding to help children being raised by grandparents and other relatives.
Education that Works
- Promise Neighborhoods – The president provides funding of $210 million for this initiative, which will focus improved educational and developmental outcomes for youth on the nation’s most distressed communities. As the recession has increased unemployment, especially in these communities, this initiative is now especially important.
- 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLCs) – The president proposes $1.16 billion for this initiative, which delivers safe, accessible, learning opportunities to children and youth beyond the schools hours. This funding is important, and the proposed $13 million cut in FY 2011 should be restored.
Preparing for Success in Education and the Labor Market
- Youth Training and Employment - The President’s FY 2011 budget proposes an 11% increase to $1.025 billion for WIA Title I Youth activities. Fifteen percent or ($153 million) is redirected to create a Youth Innovations Fund that will support youth summer employment activities and services to reconnect disconnected youth to employment and education. At $153 million, the Youth Innovations fund represents just 60% of the funding level of the Youth Opportunity Program a decade ago- despite the increasingly difficult economic environment for our nation’s youth – the worst since before World War II. The budget also proposed an increase for Department of Labor’s YouthBuild program of $17.5 million to $120 million- which helps young adults earn their secondary education credentials and learn job skills through the construction of affordable energy efficient housing. Even with these increases the Administration’s proposal vastly underfunds youth job training initiatives, presents potential cuts to some workforce areas, and, in particular, fails to maintain sufficient funding for summer jobs for youth, a very successful strategy funded under the ARRA. Congress can improve upon the President’s proposal by increasing funding for the DOL’s youth training and employment programs by $3 Billion to be allocated as follows:
-- $1.5 Billion for expanded summer and year round youth activities through the WIA youth formula and the Youth Innovations Fund;
-- $1 Billion for targeted grants to high poverty communities (similar to Youth Opportunity Grants authorized under WIA) to build pathways that will prepare low income disconnected youth for opportunities in growing areas of the economy; and
-- $500 million for the expansion of DOL youth programs and other programs that have unmet need and demonstrated effectiveness of getting hard to serve youth populations the work and education skills and credentials required for a career in today’s economy.
Opportunities to Serve and Experience to Succeed
- AmeriCorps State and National Grants – The president’s budget increases funding to $488 million, enough to support provide service opportunities to nearly 95,000 young Americans.
- AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps – The president’s budget increases funding to $35 million, enough to provide residential service opportunities to nearly 1,300 Americans through a program designed to prepare them to respond to natural disasters.
- Learn and Serve – The president’s budget increases funding to $40.2 million, enough to deliver service learning activities for 2,000 middle school age children.
- Social Innovation Fund – The president’s budget increases funding by $10 million to a total of $60 million. This public-private partnership fund supports innovation at the community level and brings promising and evidence-based practices to scale.
The federal government faces real and significant budgetary challenges. This is the time when the American people are counting on Congress to make smart budget decisions that will make a difference now and prepare our nation to make the most of the coming recovery. Investments in children and youth will do just that.
Committing to meeting children’s needs helps millions of parents, whose top priority as they struggle through the recession is keeping their children safe, healthy, and learning. And today’s healthier, stronger, better educated children will become the workers, CEOs, thinkers and leaders of tomorrow, who will build a stronger economy and ultimately reduce government expenditures.
The president’s budget offers a promising beginning for a renewed investment in America’s children. With the adjustments noted above, that investment will pay off not just today, but for generations to come. We urge you to adopt the CLC budget recommendations as you develop the FY2011 congressional budget resolution. Thank you for your attention to the needs of America’s children and the future of America’s economy.
Children’s Leadership Council Members:
Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
American Probation and Parole Association
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Child and Family Policy Center (Iowa)
Children’s Trust of South Carolina
Coalition on Human Needs (CHN)
Early Care and Education Consortium
Every Child Matters Education Fund
First Five Years Fund
Lutheran Services in America
Methodist Youth Services
National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRA)
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
National Black Child Development Institute
National Child Abuse Coalition
National Head Start Association
National Women’s Law Center
Oral Health America
Parent Child Home Program
Pew Home Visiting Campaign
Prevent Child Abuse America
Voices for America’s Children
Voices for Virginia’s Children
ZERO TO THREE
The Children’s Leadership Council is a coalition of child advocates representing over 50 leading national policy and advocacy organizations who are working everyday to improve the health, education and well-being of children and youth in order to prepare them for school, work, and life. The CLC organizations have members in every state in the nation. For the first time, there is a strong, unified group of organizations speaking with one voice to achieve a singular mission – building the public awareness and creating the political will necessary to make greater federal investments in America’s children and youth a reality. The Forum for Youth Investment and SparkAction are proud members of the CLC.