Justin Sink, The Hill, December 10, 2014
President Obama on Wednesday will unveil over $1 billion in new federal and private funding for early childhood education, as the White House again looks to rally legislative support for the president’s universal pre-K initiative.
The announcement at a White House summit on the topic will include over $750 million in new federal grants awarded to states to expand their pre-K programs.
Two-thirds of that funding will provide early care and education programs for over 30,000 infants and toddlers across almost every state, while an additional $250 million will be awarded to 18 states to expand the reach of their preschool programs. Those awards are expected to enroll an additional 33,000 children in preschool.
“The fact is like three in 10 four year olds have access to state funded programs, which means frankly we are not close,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. “We are not close to where we need to be.”
Duncan said he is haunted by “the huge unmet need” and that he hoped lawmakers would take up the president’s $75 billion proposal to partner with states to offer low and moderate income families with high quality preschool. That proposal has gained little traction on Capitol Hill, despite support from some Republican governors.