Media Contact: Brendan Daly (202.794.1580)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 3, 2015) – Save the Children and Save the Children Action Network today welcomed the release of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) budget, which calls for increased investments that help children both at home and around the world. The budget proposal would increase funding for maternal, newborn and child health while prioritizing high-quality domestic early childhood care and education, such as preschool, Head Start and other early learning programs.
“Preventable child deaths have been reduced by nearly half over the past twenty years, and America’s commitment to international development and humanitarian aid has been an important part of this achievement. President Obama has demonstrated further leadership with his budget request to increase funding for maternal and newborn child health,” said Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children. “We will now focus on working with Congress to prioritize and grow these critical investments, including areas where our commitment must be strengthened.”
“Save the Children Action Network applauds the President’s call to increase investments in early learning,” said Mark Shriver, President of Save the Children Action Network. “Prioritizing funding for early childhood programs builds on the positive, bipartisan momentum we have seen across the country to strengthen and expand access to high-quality early care programs for all children. President Obama’s budget proposal reflects an understanding that strong early learning programs benefit children, strengthen families and have long-term positive effects on the economy. Now is the time for our elected officials to find the political will and the necessary funding to make the expansion of high-quality early childhood education a reality.”
The President’s FY16 budget includes $770 million for the maternal and child health account, which is a $55 million increase over current funding levels that would allow the United States to fulfill its pledge to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, while also increasing FY15 funding for core bilateral maternal and child health programs. These commitments can help realize U.S. goals to save an additional 5 million children’s lives each year by 2035 and achieve a 75% decrease in the annual mortality rate of pregnant women. Disappointingly, the budget request includes a $14 million reduction from FY15 enacted levels in nutrition spending when 45% of deaths of children under 5 worldwide stem from malnutrition. The Administration’s budget does, however, include a dedicated commitment to reform international food aid to enable programs to reach millions more children in crisis at no additional cost to the U.S. taxpayer.
Ensuring that children around the world have the opportunity to survive and thrive requires a blend of programs in addition to global health – including education, food security and humanitarian response. The $54.8 billion for international affairs in the Administration’s just-released budget is a 7.7% increase over current levels and a step in the right direction, but may not be able to keep pace with today’s challenges around the world. Current spending is still 15% lower, when adjusted for inflation, than in 2010, not including a one-time $2.5 billion emergency fund to combat Ebola in West Africa; it remains less than 1% of the federal budget.
Save the Children is concerned with the funding levels for humanitarian assistance. With ongoing crises affecting children around the world in places like Syria, South Sudan and the Ebola-affected countries of West Africa, now is also the time to step up America’s commitment to international aid programs that save lives in regions plagued by conflicts and epidemics.
While the President’s budget contains both positive news and areas of concern relative to America’s commitment to children globally, the domestic focus on early care and education demonstrates a commendable prioritization of our nation’s youngest citizens.
The President’s FY16 budget proposal builds on the Administration’s continued efforts to increase access to high-quality child care and early education for children from birth to age five. Highlights include:
- $2.8 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) so more families have access to affordable child care and states can meet important child care emergency preparedness standards;
- Tripling the maximum Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) to $3,000 per child. This increase and the overall expansion of the credit would benefit 5.1 million families;
- $10 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start to extend the duration of Head Start and expand access to high-quality care for tens of thousands of infants and toddlers;
- $500 million to renew and expand the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), which provides vulnerable children, pregnant women and families with voluntary, high-quality home visiting programs that improve prenatal care and birth outcomes, early childhood health and development, school readiness and parenting practices;
- $750 million for the Department of Education’s Preschool Development Grants to develop, enhance or expand high-quality preschool programs; and
- $75 billion over ten years to invest in the Preschool for All initiative, which would create new partnerships with states and provide high-quality preschool to all low- and middle-income four-year-olds.
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Save the Children Action Network is the political voice for kids. We believe that every child deserves the best start in life. That’s why we’re building bipartisan will and voter support to make sure every child in the U.S. has access to high-quality early learning and that no mother or child around the globe dies from a preventable disease or illness. By investing in kids and holding leaders accountable, we are helping kids from birth to age five survive and thrive.