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March 2012 U.S. Poverty Action

Action One! (Please take before March 29)

Urge Senators to Sign Bipartisan Casey-Snowe Early Childhood "Dear Colleague" Letter

The RESULTS March 2012 U.S. Poverty Action takes us back to familiar territory — supporting children and families enrolled in Head Start and child care programs. As you know, RESULTS and our allies were successful in fighting off reckless cuts to Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in 2011. Despite a very tight budget environment, these efforts helped spare Head Start and child care from funding cuts in both the FY 2011 or FY 2012 budgets.

Congress is now beginning work on the FY 2013 budget and we again have our work cut out for us. House Republicans are already talking about more cuts to domestic discretionary programs, despite agreed upon funding levels in last year’s Budget Control Act (BCA). We need to once again remind lawmakers that investing in early learning services in an investment in our future. Therefore, for this month, we have two key actions we would like you to take to send this message.

First, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Se. Olympia Showe (R-ME) are circulating a bipartisan "Dear Colleague" letter to Senate appropriators urging support for robust funding for Head Start and child care services in the FY 2013 budget. This follows our efforts in early March 2012 to get signatures for a similar bipartisan "Dear Colleague" letter in the House. That letter was circulated by Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI-5) and Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA-19). RESULTS volunteers around the country and other advocates helped generate 88 signatures on that letter, which was sent to House Labor-HHS Subcommittee Chair Denny Rehberg (R-MT-AL) and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3) on March 20.

We want to build on that success by sending a strong message to Senate Labor-HHS Chairmen Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-MS) as well. The more signatures on the letter, the stronger the message. Being a bipartisan letter increases the chances of getting both Republicans and Democrats to sign on. But we have to act now! The letter closes on Wednesday, March 28. Please call Senate aides in Washington, DC TODAY urging them to sign on the Casey-Snowe “Dear Colleague” letter. Use the talking points below for your calls. We also have a sample conversation with an aide about the letter on our website you can use as well. Once you make your calls, take the second action below to reiterate the message to lawmakers.

Call Senate Aides about the Casey-Snowe Letter Protecting Head Start and Child Care

  1. Call your senator’s Washington, DC office and ask for the aide who works on early childhood issues. Once connected, introduce yourself as a constituent and a RESULTS volunteer.
  2. Tell the aide that you are calling to talk about funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant or CCDBG.
  3. Remind the aide that studies show that investing in early learning programs like these is one of the smartest investments we can make as a country.
  4. Explain that Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman has found that investing in quality early childhood programs, particularly ones that target low-income children, can create a 10 percent rate of return on society’s investment. This return comes through lower crime rates, better school outcomes, better health outcomes, and better skilled workers.
  5. Tell the aide that we need to make sure we maintain existing service levels and take small steps to expand services for the millions of children now in poverty since the recession. This means increasing Head Start and Early Head Start funding by $325 million and increasing funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant by $825 million in FY 2013.
  6. Inform the aide that Senators Casey from Pennsylvania and Snowe from Maine are circulating a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter urging appropriators to support robust funding for these programs.
  7. Urge the aide to ask your senator to sign the letter as a show of support to Senate appropriators and to urge his/her Senate colleagues to sign on as well. Tell the aide you can forward the letter (be sure to ask for their e-mail address). Remind them that the deadline to sign on is Wednesday, March 28. You can download a copy of the letter (PDF version); if possible, we urge you to cut and paste the letter into the body of the e-mail you send to the aide.
  8. Tell the aide to contact Deirdre Fruh (deirdre_fruh@casey.senate.gov) in Senator Casey’s office to sign their names to the Senate Dear Colleague letter and ask the aide if you can follow up before March 28 about the letter and schedule a time to call.
  9. Thank the aide for speaking with you and for your representative’s support of America’s children.

Note: To find contact information for members of Congress, including telephone numbers, addresses, and the name of the aide who handles education policy, visit our Elected Officials page (http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/officials/). We encourage you to follow up your letter with a phone call to the aide to discuss it. For directory assistance, you can also contact the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Action Two!

Urge Member of Congress to Protect Head Start and Child Care Funding

Once you’ve called and followed up with your Senate aides about the Casey-Snowe “Dear Colleague” letter, write your senators and representatives about Head Start and child care funding. Congressional offices need to hear from us numerous times in order for it to have a lasting impact. Writing Senate and House members now will increase our chances of securing these funding levels when the budget is completed next fall. Also, if your representative signed onto the bipartisan Kildee-Platts letter and/or your senator signs onto the bipartisan Casey-Snowe letter, be sure to thank them in your letter.

Write Letters to Protect Early Childhood Development Services in the FY 2013 Budget

  1. Introduce yourself to your representative or senator as a constituent and as a RESULTS volunteer. Tell them you are focused on the urgent need to protect children in Head Start and child care programs.
  2. Inform them these Head Start and child care enable low-income parents to access reliable child care while they work and provide at-risk children with the early learning experiences needed for success in school and life.
  3. Also tell them that society benefits from these programs through reduced need for special education, better health outcomes, reduced need for social services, lower criminal justice costs, and increased self-sufficiency and productivity among families. These programs also support thousands of jobs around the country.
  4. Express that you are pleased that Congress realized the merit of early learning programs by protecting Head Start and child care from deep cuts in 2011. However, remind them that only half of all eligible children can access Head Start services, only 1 in 20 eligible children can get into Early Head Start, and only 1 in 7 children and their families can get child care assistance.
  5. Remind elected officials that Head Start and child care programs are smart investments for America’s future and should be strengthened, not cut. Ask your senators and representative to urge Labor-HHS Subcommittee Chairmen Tom Harkin (Senate) and Denny Rehberg (House) to:
    • Increase funding for Head Start and Early Head Start by $325 million in FY 2013.
    • Increase funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant by $825 million in FY 2013.
  6. Thank them for their time and ask for a prompt response to your letter.

Note: To find contact information for members of Congress, including telephone numbers, addresses, and the name of the aide who handles education policy, visit our Elected Officials page (http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/officials/). We encourage you to follow up your letter with a phone call to the aide to discuss it. For directory assistance, you can also contact the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Early Learning Is an Investment in the Future

RESULTS spent most of 2011 working to protect funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG). These programs have proven successful time and again at helping vulnerable children receive the foundation they need to succeed in school and beyond. Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor James Heckman (University of Chicago) has studied the science of human potential and has also concluded that investing in early learning for disadvantaged children is a strong long-term investment (http://www.heckmanequation.org/).

RESULTS and our allies fought back against proposed cuts to Head Start and CCDBG in 2011, reminding Congress that not only are these services vital to America’s at risk children, they are critical in supporting parents who work. In the end, it worked; Congress increased funding for Head Start/Early Head Start (by $409 million) and CCDBG (by $55 million). This funding will maintain Head Start services for 968,000 children and provide 1.6 million children and their families access to child care assistance in 2012.

Despite its success, Head Start and child care programs must fight off budget cuts every year. Yet only half of all eligible children have access to Head Start and only 1 in 7 children have access to child care assistance. Tell Congress that early learning investments are about building the future. Urge them to protect and expand funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, and CCDBG in the FY 2013 budget.