There has been unprecedented attention and funding for early childhood care and education over the past 18 months at the federal, state, and local levels. The federal government has issued substantial stimulus funding and the Administration announced ambitious proposals for improving access to and quality of early childhood care and education through its signature legislative agenda, Build Back Better.

Early childhood provisions from Build Back Better have been folded into the Federal budget reconciliation process, which is currently being debated in Congress, with anticipated passage by the end of the year. While there has been partisan disagreement over many elements of the budget bill, early childhood provisions have received broad, bipartisan support.

Proposed federal funding would create an entitlement program for child care and early learning. Key implications of Build Back Better early childhood provisions include:

    1. Lower families’ child care costs: Robust subsidies would ensure families would pay no more than 7% of their annual income on child care.
    2. Increase access to child care: Multifaceted investments would provide early care and learning opportunities for an additional 8.3 million children, an eleven-fold increase.
    3. Implement Universal Pre-K: Federal-state partnerships would create free high-quality preschool opportunities for every three- and four-year-old.
    4. Create early childhood education jobs: Economists predict funding would result in an additional 2 million early care and education jobs.
    5. Fairly compensate early childhood educators: Educator pay would be commensurate with K-12 teachers and support 340,000 jobs in child care and 200,000 jobs in pre-K settings.
    6. Spur the economy by reducing the burden of child care on working mothers: The “motherhood penalty”, or the negative impact on mother’s earnings would be reduced by one-third.

We at Wonderschool are encouraged by each of these provisions and look forward to supporting state leaders, program providers, and — most importantly — families as these critical programs rollout. While the work is far from done, this proposal marks a turning point in nationwide efforts to support families and providers.