Early Learning Challenge Fund Legislation Takes a Wrong Turn
LAUP, along with the entire early childhood education (ECE) community, was highly anticipating the passage of the Early Learning Challenge Fund (ELCF) legislation that has been working its way through Congress.
This legislation would challenge states to develop effective, innovative models that promote high standards of quality and focus on outcomes across early learning settings, and dedicate $10 billion over 10 years toward this effort.
By aligning early learning standards through a quality rating system, ELCF would create an age and developmentally appropriate curriculum and assessment system that would improve programs and inform kindergarten readiness. These funds would be part of a competitive grant to the states.
ELCF was part of the larger Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which increases Pell Grants and takes the borrowing out of the hands of financial institutions and into the government-run Direct Loan program. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this move would save approximately $61 billion over 10 years.
But that estimate had been revised downwards since it was originally created. And the ELCF was cut from the final version of the SAFRA bill, which was ultimately passed as part of the health insurance reform bills. While the ECE field in LA and across the country is disappointed that the ELCF was left out of the final SAFRA bill, we remain hopeful that it will be passed this year.
Early learning leaders at the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well the education committees in both the House and the Senate, have all expressed that hope as well.
Across the board, each of these groups vowed to not let this initiative die and to find a way to include it in other legislation and find an appropriate funding stream to go along with it.
LAUP will continue to stress why the ideas behind the ELCF are vital to the future of Los Angeles County, this state and the nation. We will keep you inform as the issue progresses.