Press Release

Contact: Michele Kayal
Phone: 703-919-8778

Statement: Budget bill boosts child care, children’s health

Federal Budget

Child poverty and other issues to get greater coordination

In response to the FY 2023 budget deal reached by Congressional negotiators, First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley issued the following statement:

“We’re pleased that Congress has fulfilled its duty to create a budget for the federal government and that it appears, at least initially, that the agreement will make some important investments in children. A 30% funding increase for child care and early learning to $8 billion is notable, as is the requirement to provide 12-month continuous eligibility for children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Lawmakers also intend to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program by two years, pushing its expiration to 2029. This is very good news, but not good enough. Over the last 25 years, CHIP has helped reduce the uninsurance rate among children by more than 60% and yet, it remains the only federal insurance program without permanent funding. To ensure the health and future of the 10 million children who rely on CHIP, Congress must remove the program from the bartering table by awarding it the permanent funding every other program receives.

We are particularly happy to see authority and funding for the Children’s Interagency Coordinating Council to examine and promote greater transparency on child policy across the dozens of agencies that affect children’s well-being, a measure that First Focus on Children has long urged Congress to implement. The budget also calls on the Council to contract with the National Academy of Sciences for an analysis of federal policies that affect child poverty, a bold follow-up to the Academy’s 2019 report and an important step to capture lessons learned from pandemic-era policies such as the expanded Child Tax Credit.

We are, of course, disappointed that lawmakers could not agree on enhancements to the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit and we’re hopeful that the new National Academies study will buoy lawmakers’ support for them. The American public already overwhelmingly supports these measures. The improvements to these credits kept families afloat in 2021 and 2022 — and slashed the child poverty rate nearly in half. As the cost of food, rent, gas, and other household goods remains high, we know that families are once again struggling to pay household bills. We will continue to advocate alongside our Congressional champions in the new Congress to enhance these popular and transformational tax credits that benefited tens of millions of children and the people who care for them.”

Other measures in the FY 2023 budget agreement that will benefit children:

  • Investments in high-poverty schools and students with disabilities
  • Continuation of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program
  • Permanent Summer EBT
  • A $15 million increase for state grants and community programs to prevent and fight child abuse
  • Extension of programs that help prevent removal of children from their families or disruption of adoptions
  • Full funding for the program that prohibits solitary confinement of youth in federal contract facilities

Mental and Physical health:

  • $390 million increase for the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, to $502 million
  • New funding for community-based training for students training to become peer supporters
  • $20 million increase for Project AWARE to $140 million
  • $12 million increase for National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative to $94 million
  • $5 million increase for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health to $15 million
  • $10 million increase for mental health crisis response to $20 million
  • $2 million increase Pediatric Mental Health Access to $13 million
  • Option for states to offer 12-months continuous post-partum care
  • $25 million increase for school-based health centers to $55 million
  • $87 million increase Maternal and Child Health Block Grant to $823 million
  • $3 million increase for Maternal Mental Health Hotline to $7 million

Child care and early learning:

  • $1.9 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant to $8 billion
  • $960 million increase for Early Head Start/Head Start to $12 billion