Congress Approves Notable Investments in Kids and Families in the U.S., But Falls Short in Providing Necessary Funding for Global Humanitarian Crises
Washington, D.C. (December 23, 2022) – The 2023 omnibus spending package, passed by Congress today, includes noteworthy investments for children in the U.S. – including increases to critical early childhood education programs – but falls short in addressing the growing humanitarian and hunger crises affecting children and families around the world.
Domestically, the bill includes vital funding that would help increase access to early childhood education, ensure children have nutritious food during the summer months, and improve the treatment of migrant children. Notable early childhood education investments include a 30% increase in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and a reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program for 5 years with a path to double the funding. The package will also strengthen school nutrition programs nationwide by making the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Program and non-congregate meal flexibilities permanent.
Save the Children – together with its political advocacy arm, Save the Children Action Network – has been advocating for increased investment to early childhood education and child nutrition programs. On the MIECHV program, specifically, Save the Children Action Network advocates around the country sent nearly 50,000 messages to their members of Congress, urging them to reauthorize and increase funding for this indispensable program.
“We commend Congress for prioritizing nearly three billion dollars in increased funding for early childhood education, and for making permanent the child nutrition programs that worked so well during the pandemic. Our hundreds of thousands of grassroots volunteers nationwide have been tirelessly advocating for this funding, and I’m so proud of their determination to ensure it got over the finish line,” said Christy Gleason, Vice President of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at Save the Children. “But, while this funding is an important start in providing the relief millions of children and families across the country so desperately need, it won’t be enough to combat heightened food insecurity, the worsening child care crisis or other increased needs of families and children. In the New Year and beyond, we look forward to continuing to work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to ensure these needs of America’s children and families are met with real, lasting policy solutions.”
On the international side, while the omnibus bill increases foreign assistance funding by nearly four billion dollars, there is little to no increase in funding to address some of the world’s most urgent – and worsening – crises brought on by conflict, food insecurity and climate change. According to a Save the Children analysis, the number of children needing humanitarian assistance rose more than 20% this year, to 149 million children. Globally, there are now more conflicts than at any time since the end of World War II, and they all have a devastating impact on children’s lives. Furthermore, the climate crisis has led to more frequent and severe national disasters, causing displacement and contributing to child hunger and malnutrition, which are increasing globally for the first time in decades. In fact, severe acute malnutrition is currently threatening the lives of more than 13 million children under the age of five globally.
“This past year brought unprecedented levels of displacement, conflict, and hunger around the world – yet programs to help the millions of children and families affected by these crises remain woefully underfunded,” continued Gleason. “This bill doesn’t go nearly far enough to address the needs of the world’s children and families. This neglect, paired with the below-average rainy season forecast for early 2023, will likely prolong many of the ongoing humanitarian emergencies facing the world. Congress must do better for children around the world. Lives are at stake.”
Save the Children – together with its political advocacy arm, Save the Children – will continue to work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to ensure children and families in the U.S. and around the world can learn, thrive, survive and be protected.
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