News Blog

President Proposes Historic Child Care and Early Education Investments

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President Obama’s FY 2016 budget proposal, released yesterday, offers a bold vision for child care and early education in America. His budget would make a landmark, ongoing investment in a continuum of child care and early education services for children from birth through school entry to better prepare them for success in school and to ensure that low- and middle-income working families can afford to go to work knowing their children are safe and well cared for.

Key investments in the budget proposal include:

Child Care. The president’s proposal includes a major expansion in child care assistance for low-income families through both mandatory and discretionary funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Specifically: 

  • An increase of $3.7 billion in mandatory funding for child care assistance in FY 2016, which is the first installment of investments totaling $82 billion over 10 years, to guarantee access to quality, affordable child care for children under age 4 in low-income families (under 200 percent of poverty). This expansion in mandatory funding would be financed by reforms to the tax code that would increase taxes on the wealthy and close corporate tax loopholes. By 2025, more than 1.1 million additional children under age four would have access to high-quality child care.
  • A $370 million increase in discretionary funding (the funding set each year in the annual appropriations measure) including $266 million to help states implement new provisions in the bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, $4 million for research and evaluation, and $100 million for pilots to develop, implement, and evaluate new, innovative models of providing child care.
  • An expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) for families with children under age five.The Budget triples the maximum credit available for families to $3,000 per child and makes the full CDCTC available to families with incomes of up to $120,000.

Head Start and Early Head Start. The budget proposal includes a $1.1 billion increase to expand Head Start programs to meet the full-day and full-year needs of families. This increase includes a $150 million increase for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships to invest in high-quality infant and toddler care, a $284 million investment for cost of living adjustments, and $25 million for activities associated with Designation Renewal System, or recompetition process.

Home Visiting and Preschool. The budget proposal includes $75 billion to support the Preschool for All initiative, including $15 billion over 10 years for evidence-based home visiting. The Preschool for All initiative would provide all four-year-olds from low-income families with access to high-quality preschool. The Preschool for All proposal is funded with an increased tobacco tax. In FY 2016, the budget proposes a $500 million increase for Preschool Development Grants, expanding them to over 40 states.

The president’s budget proposal reflects up-to-date understanding of who families are today and what is holding them back. It puts child care needs, and other supports for working families, front and center—firmly grounded in the research on how to help families get ahead and what is important for young children’s success. The president’s budget proposal outlines the Administration’s vision for federal spending and revenue. In the coming weeks, Congress will have an opportunity to lay out its vision. We encourage Congress to advance a budget that increases investments in child care and early education given the broad—and bipartisan–consensus of the importance of early childhood experiences.

By Stephanie Schmit and Hannah Matthews

The Precarious State of Family Balance Sheets


This report seeks to develop a clear picture of the current state of household financial security. It explores the ways three components of family balance sheets—income, expenditures, and wealth—have changed over the past several decades, how they interrelate, and why understanding family finances requires that they be examined together.

The study reveals a striking level of financial fragility: Despite the national recovery, many families have experienced minimal wage growth, have few savings, and could not withstand a financial emergency. This reality must begin to change if the American Dream is to remain alive and well for future generations.
Key Findings:

2% Total growth in earnings for typical U.S. worker from 1999-2009.
9 days Length those at the bottom of the income ladder can survive on liquid savings.
70% of U.S. households face financial strains on income, expenditures, or wealth.
6% growth in average household expenditures since 1984, after adjusting for inflation.

Learn More!

Meeting on Reauthorization of Child Care Developmental Block Grant

MCA logoJoin us for a discussion regarding of the reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and what it means to children and families in Maine.  The reauthorization of this law, the first in 18 years, makes changes in health, safety, quality, and supports involving child care for working families.  Join us to review the new law and discuss how we can work together as the implementation of these provisions begin over the upcoming months.




Tuesday, February 10 at 1:00 pm

Cohen Center/Spectrum Generations, 22 Town Farm Road in Hallowell

We will be sending out an agenda and materials prior to the meeting.
Please let us know if you will be able to attend by emailing Bonnie Colfer at

Statement by Olivia Golden on President Obama’s FY 2016 Budget

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President Obama’s budget features ambitious and thoughtful proposals to create opportunity for children and youth, help struggling low-income families move into the middle class and succeed once there, and invest in America’s labor force.  

The proposals reflect an up-to-date understanding of families’ lives and today’s workplace.  They represent a strategic approach, not a laundry list.  In general, they are grounded in evidence about what works, drawn from recent decades of research and experience with local, state, and national initiatives.  And they take direct aim at the barriers that hold back both parents and children in struggling working and middle-class families, providing a “two-generational” double boost that can help entire families achieve and hold onto economic security.

The proposals also build on and, where needed, expand the strong core of safety net programs—including health insurance, nutrition assistance, Pell grants, and unemployment insurance—that already help families stabilize their lives, weather bad times, and move up.  These safety net programs provide a significant work support for millions of families and play an important role in lifting people out of poverty, both when they are unable to work and when their wages are too low to meet basic needs.

The president calls for an end in cuts to discretionary spending, known as sequestration, which slowed economic growth and stalled poverty reduction in recent years. The budget blueprint proposes funding key initiatives through spending reductions and targeted increases in revenue, including taxes on the wealthy and closing corporate tax loopholes.



  • Among the bold proposals that come together to make up this strategy: 
  • Affordable high-quality child care for all low-income parents with children under age 4, phased in over the next 10 years, coupled with immediate investments to support implementation of the bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization and to expand Head Start and Early Head Start services for the most vulnerable children; 
  • A federal-state partnership that provides a major incentive for up to five states to create paid family and medical leave programs, addressing a significant vulnerability for low-income working families destabilized by the loss of income that comes with major health events, including birth;    
  • A continuing investment in evidence-based home visiting programs (which would otherwise expire), to help low-income parents with infants and toddlers better support their young children’s development;
  • Preschool for all low- and middle-income 4-year-olds phased in over 10 years, completing a continuum of services for families with young children; 
  • Tuition-free community college for students from low- and moderate income families, with careful attention to the needs of non-traditional students—who  are older, often working and raising a family—as well as younger “traditional” students; 
  • Major expansions in the resources available for training through the nation’s core program for low-skilled and low-income youth and adults (the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act), for apprenticeships that allow low-income workers to “learn while you earn,” and for more targeted training opportunities;
  • A multi-billion dollar proposal for summer and year-round jobs for young people disconnected from school and work; and
  • Improvements in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit to help low-income earners and to expand the EITC to single adults and to young adults, who are currently largely excluded from it


The proposals are grounded in up-to-date evidence of who families are today, what has changed in our economy, and the barriers that hold back too many children, youth, and adults from full opportunity.  Addressing these barriers is not only a matter of fairness, it is also crucial for America’s future, as today’s children and youth grow up and replace an aging labor force.  

Children have the highest poverty rate of any age group (20 percent), and young adults have the highest rate among adults (19 percent).  Almost half of young children live in families that are either poor or struggling just above the poverty line.  About 70% of these poor children generally live in families with workers, often putting in long hours at low wages.  

Today’s parents work through their children’s infancy and early childhood, a stark contrast to just a few decades ago.  In 1975, fewer than half of all mothers were in the labor force, and only about a third of mothers with a child under age 3, compared to more than 70 percent of all mothers and 61 percent of mothers with a child under age 3 in 2013. Moreover, nearly a quarter of mothers take less than 10 days of parental leave.

Four in ten low-wage workers have no access to paid leave at all—no sick leave, vacation leave, parental leave, or personal leave—making it very hard for them to care for an infant, a sick child or family member, or themselves.

Participation in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) has fallen for the third consecutive year to a 15-year low. Fewer children were served in 2013 than in 1998.  Those who are able to secure help still struggle to afford quality care. The average cost of child care for a very young child is nearly twice the average subsidy payment. 

Young children in poor and near-poor families face developmental risks due to the nature of low-wage work, the extremely high cost of child care, and the limited help available to families. 

Postsecondary education is essential for attaining economic security. By 2018, 60 percent of all U.S. jobs will require some level of postsecondary education.  At the current rate, employers in 2025 will need about 23 million more degree and credential holders than our higher education system will have produced.  Yet, the fastest growing segments of our labor force have some of the lowest levels of education attainment. 

Our educational system is not meeting the needs of all our students. The rate of low literacy among black adults is two times higher than it is among all adults (35 percent vs. 18 percent). This gap is even higher among Hispanic adults: 43 percent have low levels of literacy and 56 percent have low numeracy skills. 

Far too many youth (an estimated 6.7 million) are detached from school and work and struggle to access training and education options that will help them develop the skills they need to succeed and earn family-sustaining wages. 

Fifty-one percent of college students are now independent, adult learners, many of whom are parents juggling work and family while attending school.


Commentators always want to know whether the President’s budget is “dead on arrival” in Congress. But no large change happens overnight; a budget that frames the big questions and offers thoughtful answers shouldn’t be graded solely on its likelihood of 2015 enactment.  

That said, from the perspective of Congressional appeal, two major proposals build on bipartisan legislation that Congress actually did enact in 2014:  the first reauthorization in 18 years of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and the first reauthorization in 16 years of the nation’s core workforce program, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  Both were passed on virtually unanimous votes—and while no one expects voting for large new funding proposals to be as bipartisan as the reauthorizations themselves, there is common ground around the importance of the programs and their broad direction.  Other areas with considerable bipartisan appeal include apprenticeships, community college initiatives, pre-kindergarten, and the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit to include youth and adults without dependents. 

Other proposals in the budget serve as a call to action for localities and states that want to innovate, even without the federal resources that would be offered by passage.  Lifting up paid family leave with such a significant statement of presidential commitment could encourage action in states ready to be at the head of the line.  And the early childhood, workforce training, and community college agendas are already being pursued at the state level; the ideas brimming over in this budget give ambitious state leaders more directions to consider, particularly as revenues in many states recover from the recession and states themselves want to tackle the big questions.

In several key areas, the president’s ideas may be gaining ground as generations change.  Take child care, for example.  When I testified before Congress almost two decades ago, in support of the last successful proposal to sharply increase child care spending back in the Clinton Administration, many members were skeptical that families needed paid child care—after all, if women wanted to work, they should look for family members to babysit.  Last spring, when I testified before the House committee on the child care reauthorization, members from both parties understood the role that stable, safe, and affordable child care plays in the life of a family.  

President Obama has proposed a thoughtful, strategic budget that appropriately addresses the issues our country and people are facing. The Congress should take this budget proposal seriously and work to move the country forward. 

Olivia Golden is the executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). 

New Congress’ Budget – What’s at Stake


The New Congress and Federal Funding for Needed Services:
What You Need to Know
A Webinar: Register Now

On January 22, hear from national experts Joel Friedman and Ellen Nissenbaum of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities about how and when Congress will take up its new round of critical budget decisions (hint:  it’s soon!).  The new Congress has a majority that favors cuts to Medicaid, SNAP/Food Stamps, and many other programs, threatening services low-income people need.  Support will increase for massive tax cuts favoring the wealthy and corporations, too.  

This webinar will help you understand what’s at risk and what strategies can protect vital programs. You’ll also learn about do-able steps you can take to protect services from Deborah Weinstein of the Coalition on Human Needs. The moderator is Steve Savner of the Center for Community Change. There will be time for questions, and follow-up materials will be provided to all registrants.

The New Congress and Federal Funding for Needed Services: What You Need to Know
Thursday, January 22
1:00p.m. – 2:15p.m. ET (10:00 a.m. PT)

Register Now!


Joel Friedman
Vice President for Federal Fiscal Policy
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Ellen Nissenbaum
Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Deborah Weinstein
Executive Director
Coalition on Human Needs


Steve Savner
Director of Public Policy
Center for Community Change

To register and for more info on speakers

Questions or issues registering? E-mail Joanna Sandager

Grants to Green Maine funds energy audits and efficiency improvements

GTG_Color_TM_WEBGrants to Green Maine, a partnership of the Maine Community Foundation, Maine Development Foundation, and Efficiency Maine, is accepting assessment applications to help fund energy audits in preparation for larger energy projects.

The three-year program provides Maine nonprofit organizations funding and technical assistance for energy audits and efficiency investments in historic downtown buildings used for cultural, civic, educational, or residential activities.

Assessment grants provide up to $2,000 with a one-to-one match.
Deadlines are January 16, 2015; June 12, 2015; and December 11, 2015.

Implementation grants also are being accepted for grants of $10,000 to $100,000 with a one-to-one match. Deadlines are March 13, 2015; September 11, 2015; and March 4, 2016.

For eligibility and application information, visit Grants to Green Maine or contact Anne Ball at the Maine Development Foundation, (207) 512-4906.

How Brains are Built: The Core Story of Brain Development

The AFWI is pleased to announce the launch of our first animated video, which presents the core story of brain development in an accessible and visually engaging format for public audiences.

The AFWI developed the video with considerable input from our partners at the Harvard Center on the Developing Child and the FrameWorks Institute. Using metaphors developed by FrameWorks and tested with audiences both in the US and in Alberta, “How Brains are Built” infuses core story concepts with energy, accessibility, and high fidelity to the science.