Over the years, the budget for America’s future generations has been decreasing. First Focus on Children, an organization dedicated to making kids and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions, has asked the Biden Administration to commit at least an additional percentage point of federal spending for children in the months and years ahead and to reverse the downward trend in investing in children, says Michele Kayal, VP of Media and Communications.
Many of these mirror proposals outlined in his American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan, and could have a great impact (long and short term), dramatically improving the immediate and long-term well-being of millions of children — especially children of color and those in lower- and middle-income families.
President of First Focus Bruce Lesley said in a Press Release that the Biden administration’s budget “acknowledges the long-neglected need to invest in our nation’s children. We’re particularly pleased to see expansions and improvements to the Child Tax Credit and other mechanisms that help children and the people who care for them, as well as paid leave, child care and other initiatives. As we sift through the document’s details, we hope to find a reversal of the downward investment trend that has held our children back for so many years.”
So, what’s in the President’s plan, and how will these items help our children and families?
This will make permanent improvements to tax credits. The President’s proposed fiscal year 2022 budget makes permanent CTC’s full refundability and extends its increased value — up to $3,600 for children under 6 and $3,000 for children 6-17 — through 2025.
First Focus Campaign for Children has pulled together nearly 300 organizations to urge the Administration to make these and other changes permanent. These changes will benefit more than 90% of all U.S. children, which is mind blowing.
Childcare and Early Learning
We all know how expensive childcare is. In fact, some families have one parent quitting their job because it’s cheaper to stay home with their kids. The Biden plan proposes $225 billion in child care funding, which would limit to 7% the amount of their pay low- and middle-income families spend on child care, improve quality, and increase compensation for early learning professionals. The proposal will also invest $200 billion for universal pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds, which will save the average family about $13,000.
“Funding for child care from the American Rescue Plan is helping to stop the bleeding in the child care sector – the FY22 budget makes necessary, long-term investments in strengthening the child care system for children, families, employers, and employees moving forward. The COVID-19 pandemic has made painfully clear that our economy cannot be successful without a strong child care system,” says Kayal.
Biden’s budget increases funding in Education to $443 million, which is more than ten times the level of fiscal year 2021. This will more than double Title 1 assistance, offer two years of free Community College to all Americans, and increase funding by 17% to all individuals with disabilities. This plan will also “leverage investments in tuition-free community college and teacher scholarships to support those who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree or another credential that supports their work as an educator, or become an early childhood educator,” according to The White House.
The plan will also make postsecondary education more affordable and give up $1400 to low-income students by increasing the Pell-Grant award, and invest more in future teachers by doubling scholarships.
The plan more than doubles the existing budget, which will allow money to help and support unaccompanied children. “Biden set a goal of resettling up to 125,000 refugees in 2022, up from President Donald Trump’s cap of 15,000 for the current fiscal year,” reports MorningStar. This will allow minors to be reunited with their families and get them out of U.S. custody. It will also direct money to go toward beefing up security and cancel all funds that were going to go towards making a wall.
$150 million will be invested into the Centers for Disease Control to stop the inequality in health care which has greatly affected people of color, including children. It will also give a huge boost to the mental health care for children budget, and allot more money to prepare for pandemics and provide lower drug prices.
Biden is also in favor of government-run health care and wants to add $3.9 billion to the budget to fight the opioid crisis.
There is no reason why any child should be going hungry, and under Biden’s plan, free school meals will be expanded to include an additional 9 million children. In addition, it will make the Summer Electronic Benefits Program permanent, which will help feed 30 million children during the summer months. It will also provide healthier school lunches by offering an incentive to schools that exceed school meal standards.
These six things will greatly benefit our kids in both the immediate future and the long run — and it’s about time we emphasize the importance of strengthening these programs for upcoming generations. After all, the future of our country literally depends on it.
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