In the early morning hours of February 9, Congress finalized H.R. 1892, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The bill has implications for all parts of government, most notably its impact on the federal budget for the next two years.
For stakeholders in the early childhood arena, Congress included multiple bipartisan deals that will significantly impact children and families. The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program was reauthorized for five years at level funding. MIECHV is a bipartisan program that delivers evidence-based home visiting to at-risk families across the country as a two-generation strategy to disrupt poverty, prevent child abuse and strengthen new families.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program, which was extended for six years on January 19, received an additional four-year extension in the Bipartisan Budget Act, bringing the total extension to ten years at an estimated savings of $5 billion to taxpayers.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant received a commitment to doubling funding to $5.8 billion. That historical funding increase would extend access to high quality child care to an estimated 364,800 additional eligible families over the next two years.
Finally, the Bipartisan Budget Act enacted the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First). Family First will provide evidence-based prevention services to children at risk of foster care, target resources toward foster youth who are new parents and prioritize placements with kin when foster care is inevitable. Family First has received increased attention as one part of the solution to the opioid epidemic.
These programs, negotiated in a bipartisan, bicameral manner over the past months reflect how Congress can reach agreement, and the Bipartisan Budget Act was the timely legislative vehicle that moved the programs over the finish line.