Breaking news from Zero to Three

From The Baby Monitor (Zero to Three’s newsletter on policy and advocacy issues)

Senate Doesn’t Take Up Omnibus Spending Bill

By now most of you have heard the disappointing news that, in spite of all our hard work, our youngest children experienced a significant setback last week. The Senate leadership was not able to bring the omnibus spending bill to the full Senate for debate, lacking the votes to break a filibuster. This bill would have provided an increase in funding for child care, Head Start, and Early Head Start, continuing the gains made in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and would have launched the Early Learning Challenge Fund.

All of you put forth an amazing effort to bring attention to the need for this funding, urging House and Senate Members to support significant increases for child care, Head Start, and Early Head Start. We simply were caught up in larger issues and couldn’t control the outcome. But we are not giving up.

A vote is expected to take place on Tuesday, December 21st to finalize a continuing resolution (CR) that would allow continued government operations through March 4, 2011. This CR does not contain the necessary increases in child care and Head Start/Early Head Start to continue these programs at current levels. This leaves us in the same place: 50,000 babies are at risk for losing Early Head Start, and states may cut child care programs further.

The new 112th Congress will make final funding decisions for federal programs. Deep cuts are expected to be on the table. It is going to be one of the most challenging times we have all faced as advocates. We will regroup after the first of the year, as we continue working together on behalf of the most vulnerable infants and toddlers. It will be critical for professionals across the country to get Members of Congress to visit child care and Early Head Start settings and witness first-hand the impact of these programs.

Thank you for all you do on behalf of our youngest children, and thank you for advocating with us to make early care and learning programs a high priority. We will keep you up to date as these issues progress.