Rick Santorum, former Senator of Pennsylvania, and George Miller, former Representative for California, are currently spear-heading the Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) Early Childhood Initiative. This initiative recognizes that the most important asset to our nation are children; those whom our nation will soon depend upon for its prosperity and security. Yet, many children grow up in an environment that does not allow them to develop in ways that bring success. In this initiative offers recommendations to reverse this sad reality.
According to Representative Miller, American families need a fair share at having a great start. One step is an increase in the value and accessibility of the Federal Child Tax Credit by having all families with children under age 5 able to receive a $1,500 young child tax credit per eligible child ($2,500 total credit).
Secondly, reauthorize the federally funded home visiting program, Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), for five years. Along with that, improve focus on integrating home visiting into more early childhood support services in areas that need it most. The initiative also contends the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) work with states to create promising home visitation program models and help build careers for home visiting professionals. It encourages the development and implementation of effective programs that support families with young children and creating a new national policy on paid leave.
Another key recommendation of the BPC’s Early Childhood Initiative is to make child care affordable for families through the doubling of the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding and doubling the child care expenses credit available for children ages 0 to 5. In addition, make the credit refundable.
The initiative also recommends an increase in access to high–quality early childhood programs for children ages 0-5. A grant program would encourage states to come up with their own tax programs to provide quality early childhood programs. To ensure the smooth operation and high-quality of early childhood programs, the Department of Education should ensure tuition assistance is available to student studying early childhood education. In addition, the program development to improve the competency of child care managers and directors to encourage states to establish a minimum level of training for early childhood employees must be facilitated by the Department of Labor.
Senator Santorum and Representative Miller both recognize that the opioid epidemic in the nation is greatly affecting not only addicts, but their families. Additional resources must remain available and implemented for both addicts and their families. The Early Childhood Initiative believes in the establishment of a “plan of safe care” for infants and young children exposed to substances. It also calls for reports of service referrals and annual data to be collected on substance–exposed infants and children.
Lastly, the initiative calls for guidance on how to use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Block Grant (SABG) to help support recovery for parents, infants, and young children in these situations.