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Implications for PreK-12 Education in Trump’s New Budget

February 13, 2018
Aaron Loewenberg, Abbie Lieberman, Roxanne Garza, Abigail Swisher and Elena Silva
New America

On Monday afternoon, the Trump administration released its FY 2019 budget. While the budget proposal was quickly dismissed by some as “dead on arrival,” it is still an important indicator of the administration’s priorities for the upcoming year.

The proposal includes a 5.6 percent decrease in funding to the Department of Education. If enacted, this would amount to a total funding cut of $3.8 billion compared to what was enacted in the 2017 fiscal year. The administration originally sought a far larger cut of $7.1 billion to the department, but $3.3 billion were restored in an addendum that reflects the increased spending levels reached in last week’s congressional spending deal.

The proposal also includes a 21 percent decrease in funding to the Department of Health and Human Services, requesting a total of $68.4 billion for HHS. HHS is where many early care and education programs are housed, such as Head Start and grants to subsidize child care.

This post provides an overview of what the proposed budget means for public education.

Early Childhood Education

For the second year in a row, the administration’s budget for the Department of Health and Human Services proposes eliminating the preschool development grant program. For the past several years, this program has assisted 18 states in expanding access to pre-K for thousands of four-year-olds and helped states improve the overall quality of their pre-K programs. The program was started during the Obama administration and now, due to ESSA, is housed within the Department of Health and Human services and jointly administered with the Department of Education.

In the proposed budget for the Department of Health and Human Services, the administration calls for a slight increase in funding for Head Start, providing about $9.3 billion for the program. At the proposed funding level, the program is expected to serve about 861,000 children. It should be noted, however, that the administration recently revoked the requirement that Head Start programs begin serving children for a longer day and school year, citing a lack of adequate funding. The administration’s choice not to request additional funding for this requirement reaffirms that increasing the dosage of the program is not a priority. Finally, the administration’s funding request for preschool grants for children with disabilities remains unchanged from 2017 at $368.2 million. These grants assist states in providing education to children with disabilities between the ages of three through five.

While Trump’s budget doesn’t necessarily signify an interest in strengthening early care and education, he did sign a deal last week that will have a huge impact on families with young children. In that deal, lawmakers agreed to double the amount of funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant that provides child care subsidies for low-income families. This infusion of funds means about 230,000 more children will soon be served. The congressional deal also extended the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program for five years at $400 million per year. This program provides coaching to low-income parents from medical professionals or trained counselors. The home visiting program has been proven to be effectiveand actually save taxpayer money in the long run. Funding for the program had expired on September 30, 2017, and despite bipartisan support, Congress had been unable to agree on how to pay for it.