American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Senate Education Committee Clears Early Child Care Bill

(May 15, 2014)

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee considered and passed the Strong Start for America's Children Act on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. The vote was along party lines with 12 Democrats voting in favor and 10 Republicans voting against the bill. The bill, if passed into law, would provide:

  • expanded access to preschool for 4-year-olds from families earning below 200% of the federal poverty level,
  • teachers with high qualifications,
  • rigorous health and safety standards,
  • evidence-based instruction that is developmentally appropriate,
  • comprehensive services for children, including strong parent and family engagement, nutritious meals, and health screening and referrals.

ASHA recognized that the draft legislation failed to include "hearing" screenings as part of the basic package of health screenings that did include "physical health, behavioral health, oral health, child development, and vision." ASHA asked for the inclusion of hearing screenings, which was included in the version passed by the Committee.

The legislation is not expected to progress any further this year, as the Senate has very little time to consider legislation outside of critical spending bills. Similar legislation in the House was referred to the Education and the Workforce Committee where it is expected to languish.

Background

The Strong Start for America's Children Act embodies and reflects President Obama's goal of expanding access to quality preschool to millions of children in the country who do not now have access.

ASHA Resource

For more information, please contact Neil Snyder, ASHA's director of federal advocacy, at nsnyder@asha.org or 800-498-2071, ext. 5614.


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