Delaney Re-Introduces Legislation to Give Parents Nationwide Option to Enroll Their Children in Free Pre-K

Jul 27, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman John K. Delaney (MD-6) has reintroduced the Early Learning Act for the 115th Congress, legislation to create access to universal pre-k nationwide. The Early Learning Act provides states with federal funding to establish high-quality free pre-k programs for all four year old children. Congressman Delaney first introduced the Early Learning Act in 2015.

Congressman Delaney’s legislation establishes The Early Education Trust Fund which will distribute block grants to participating states. The Early Education Trust Fund is funded by a 1.5% increase on individual income, dividends and capital gains above $500,000. This provides states with up to $8,000 in funding per student, per year for pre-k. Enrollment in these new pre-k programs would not be mandatory, but the legislation would give all parents the opportunity to enroll their child in a high-quality program. This legislation provides states with federal funding to create and expand their existing pre-k programs so that all families, in all 50 states, have the option of utilizing pre-k.

“Expanding access to pre-k is all about preparing our country for the future; I believe that every child, in every family, in every state, should have the opportunity to do great things. In the globally-connected, high-tech, high-skill economy of the future, education will be even more essential than it is today, and pre-k is an important first step in making sure young learners have a strong foundation,” said Congressman Delaney. “This legislation gives states federal funding to setup high-quality pre-k programs and is fully paid for by a surtax on the most fortunate Americans. The research is very encouraging that the benefits of pre-k are substantial and that it can help reduce the achievement gap.”


The Early Learning Act


Universal, High Quality Pre-K

  • The Early Learning Act provides funding for states to establish universal access to pre-k for four-year-old students or expand existing programs.
  • The Early Learning Act does not mandate participation in pre-k, but it does give all parents the option of enrolling their child in pre-k at the age of four
  • Funding can only be directed towards state-certified programs that are accredited and not-for-profit.
  • To participate, states must establish universal access to free pre-k programs. Funding is tied to the number of students enrolled, incentivizing high enrollment levels.


National Funding for State-Based Programs

  • The Early Learning Act establishes the Early Education Trust Fund, a federal fund administered by the Department of Education.
  • The fund will provide block grants to participating states at a level of up to $8,000 per student per year.
  • States will have flexibility to implement program details at their discretion.


Paid For

  • The Early Education Trust Fund is paid for by a surtax of 1.5% on income, dividends and capital gains above $500,000, impacting less than 1% of households in the United States.
  • The Early Education Trust Fund acts as a lockbox, ensuring that this revenue can only be used for grants to state pre-k programs.  
  • The Early Learning Act does not increase the deficit and is budget neutral.
  • The Early Learning Act funds new state-based programs and is not an unfunded mandate.