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Subcommittee Examines States’ Success in Early Childhood Programs

The Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing today to discuss the effectiveness of federal early childhood program, and how states are making increased investments in their own programs.

“A child’s early development lays critical groundwork for them to succeed in the future,” said Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education.

“Finding an early childcare or education program is an important decision for many working parents and families,” Rokita said. “The federal government should not be making the job of navigating the system more difficult through a confusing maze of federal programs.”

According to testimony by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), 44 separate federal programs support early childhood education and care, while nine have that as an explicit purpose with an annual cost of more than $15 billion. Additionally, some the programs are working to achieve similar goals.

“We found some overlap between early learning and child care programs, as some programs target similar beneficiaries or engage in similar activities,” said Cindy Brown Barnes, director of education, workforce, and income security with the GAO.

The inadequacies and cumbersome nature of federal early childhood programs are causing states to consider a better way to provide support for their most vulnerable families.

“The most promising path forward is to advance the work of leading, innovative states, building on growing state and local momentum in early childhood,” said Dr. Katharine B. Stevens, resident scholar of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

“Targeting investment to children’s earliest years is sensible policy because it aims to build a strong foundation in the first place rather than trying to fix expensive, preventable problems down the line,” said Dr. Stevens.

Members of the subcommittee heard examples of state programs that use public-private partnerships to create successful models for other states to follow in the future.

For example, members heard that Minnesota has developed a research based scholarship model, targeted to the most vulnerable, and intended to close the achievement gap.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will continue to search for reforms that allow states to lead the way and parents to be in the driver’s seat of their own child’s development, while examining how federal programs can best serve children without being a burden to American taxpayers.

“We have a responsibility to re-evaluate the current climate and make sure that taxpayer investments are being used effectively,” said Rep. Rokita