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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Subcommittee, announced that she has included funding to boost early childhood education programs in the Fiscal Year 2011 LHHS Appropriations bill.

"As a former preschool teacher, I understand the importance of early childhood education," said Senator Murray. "Children who access high-quality early childhood education have higher earnings and have a better shot at success in their careers than those who did not. Especially in this tough economic climate, it is critical that we prepare our children for elementary school and beyond.”

Having passed the LHHS Subcommittee, the bill will now go to the full Senate Appropriations Committee before going to the full Senate for consideration.

Early Learning Challenge Fund

This bill funds grants to states to improve early education standards and practices, build an effective early childhood workforce, and improve the school readiness of young children. Washington state is already doing exceptional work on early childhood quality standards. This funding will help Washington and other states ensure that our children are arriving at school ready to learn. 

Child Care and Development Block Grant

This bill authorized $3.1 billion for child care assistance for low income families. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included important investments in child care, allowing states to increase assistance for low-income families and support quality improvement activities.  The bill maintains the funding level provided for in the Recovery Act by providing an increase of $1 billion over the fiscal year 2010 level, for a total of $3.1 billion, roughly $300 million more than the House secured in their companion bill.

Head Start

This bill provides $8.2 billion for Head Start, an increase of $990.3 million over the fiscal year 2010 appropriation.  This amount will allow Head Start programs to provide comprehensive early childhood development services to 978,000 low-income children, and maintain increases in families served because of Recovery Act funding in fiscal years 2009 and 2010. The House secured $8.1 billion.