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May 25, 2010

States Hold on to Early Care and Education Funding

Given state budget gaps, investments in early care and education were impressive.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has released a new report, Early Care and Education State Budget Actions FY 2010. This is an annual survey of state fiscal decisions in early care and education policy and programs. Fiscal officers in all 50 states and the territories were surveyed about early care and education. Forty-nine states responded to one or more sections of the survey.

According to the latest State Budget Update from NCSL, states have already closed a cumulative $174.1 billion budget gap in their fiscal year (FY) 2010 budgets, and more budget gaps loom for FY 2011, FY 2012 and even as far out as FY 2013.

Almost every state has constitutional or statutory for a balanced budget, unlike the federal government. In order to do that, several states had to raise taxes and eliminate programs. In the face of these budget challenges, early care and education did well, with credit going to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds and state legislators. 

“With all the fiscal pressures on state legislatures in 2010, these numbers are a strong showing for early care and education.  Cuts could have been much worse,” said William Pound, executive director of NCSL. 

In FY 2009, states increased appropriations across each area - child care, prekindergarten, home visiting and related early childhood programs - even in the face of emerging budget crises. From FY 2009 to FY 2010, state appropriations to early care and education were generally flat, reflecting no significant percentage change overall. This is particularly striking, given the unprecedented state budget gaps that lawmakers were addressing.

Twenty states increased total investments to early care and education, and most reported using ARRA funds. These states faced budget gaps that ranged from 4.5 percent in West Virginia to 31.9 percent in New York.  Alabama and Oregon were the only states that were able to continue year-to-year expansions; they increased funding for both child care and prekindergarten. A total of 18 states decreased overall investments in their early care and education programs. Of those 18 states, only Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico and Ohio had higher cuts to early care and education than the percentage of their budget gap. Findings from the report include:

  • ARRA funds gave a boost to child care.
  • Prekindergarten appropriations remained stable from FY 2009 to FY 2010.
  • Home visiting appropriations decreased by $55 million from FY 2009 to FY 2010.
  • Other early childhood state appropriations showed mixed results, but overall total appropriations increased by $72 million.

NCSL's report also includes data on how states used funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). States used a total of $1.2 billion in ARRA funding. In FY 2010, funds were primarily used in child care (31 states) with some funds used in prekindergarten (seven states), home visiting (four states) and other early childhood programs (10 states). States' use of ARRA funding for child care in particular prevented deeper cuts. 

The Early Care and Education State Budget Actions FY 2010 report is available for sale in NCSL's bookstore. Features of the report include in-depth analysis and 50-state charts for child care, prekindergarten, home visiting, and other early childhood initiatives. In addition, NCSL has compiled comprehensive state profiles with fiscal data from FY 2008, FY 2009 and FY 2010. 

Credentialed members of the media may receive a free copy of NCSL’s Early Care and Education State Budget Actions FY 2010 report. All other interested parties may purchase a copy through NCSL’s bookstore. Media requests must be made through the NCSL Press Room. For a copy of NCSL's media policy, click here. A 50 state profile chart on states early care and education budget actions for FY 2010 is available online.

This publication, PDF and links are registered with the NCSL copyright and may not be reproduced, uploaded or distributed in any way in its entirety.


NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.