Social and Economic Policy
Promote policies and funding to expand the supply of affordable, quality early care and education programs that support the development of children, increase access to employment, and support parents as their children’s first teachers.
Issue Team Chair: Karen Tvedt, email@example.com
The state and national Leagues have long-standing policies encouraging the availability of early care and education programs (variously referred to as day care, childcare, early education, and early care and education). As part of its position on Education, the LWVWA calls for action to expand the definition of Basic Education to include birth to five years. Under Social Policy, it encourages 1) action to provide for the welfare of children in day care through minimum standards that include provision for safe, healthy, and clean environments; and 2) quality early care and education of children birth-5 to maximize the child’s future development.
Most of what we anticipate for the 2023 Legislative Session relates to implementation and funding of the 2021 Fair Start for Kids Act (ESSS Bill 5237). This comprehensive act addressed a wide range of early care and education issues and provided a down payment on implementation with Federal Covid relief funds. It also created a Fair Start for Kids Account linked to the Education Legacy Trust Account.
In passing this legislation, the legislature recognized that while high quality child care and early learning are critical to a child’s success in school and life, COVID-19 devastated the existing child care industry, making it unduly burdensome for families to find care. Without immediate action to support child care providers, and without expanded access to affordable child care, parents are unable to return to work and children lose valuable learning opportunities. This is of particular concern for historically marginalized populations including low-income, immigrant, homeless and children of color.
As reflected in state agency proposals, legislative committee work sessions, and advocacy group agendas, the following issues will likely be funding priorities in the 2023 Legislative Session:
|House Bills||House||Senate||After Passage|
|Bill #||Bill Name (Brief Title)||League Position||Take Action||In Committee||On Floor Calendar||Passed||In Committee||On Floor Calendar||Passed||Passed Legislature||On Governor's Desk||Signed|
||Qualifications for unemployment insurance when an individual voluntarily leaves work||Support
|HB 1199||Licensed child care in common interest communities||Support
|HB 1525||Eligibility for Working Connections Child Care (Companion to SB 5423)||Support
|Implementation and expansion of transition to kindergarten program||Support
These weekly updates will provide you with a "deep dive" into the progress of each bill, along with more analysis of the potential impact of the bill if it should pass.
2SSB 5225 Increase access to the Working Connections Child Care Program (WCCC). Proposes to: 1) expand eligibility for WCCC assistance to include child care employees with incomes up to 85 percent of the state median income and waive copayments to the extent possible under federal regulations; 2) allow WCCC eligibility to include a parent or guardian participating in a specialty court or therapeutic court within the prior six months; and 3) prohibit the state from considering the immigration status in determining eligibility for all WCCC applicants. This bill includes a provision funded in the Governor’s budget proposal to provide 12-month WCCC for homeless families. Executive action was taken in House Human Services, Youth & Early Learning on March 7.
SB 5316 Background checks and licensing fees for programs administered by DCYF. Proposes reducing barriers for child care programs and workers by waiving background check fees and increasing the period of background checks from three to five years. Continues a provision prohibiting licensing fees. Funds to waive background check fees are included in the Governor’s budget proposal. Scheduled for executive session in House Human Services, Youth & Early Learning on March 24 at 8:00 am.
HB 1106 Qualifications for unemployment insurance when an individual voluntarily leaves work. Extends unemployment insurance qualifications to individuals who leave work due to lack of child care assuming they make reasonable efforts to preserve their employment. Bill is scheduled for executive session in Senate Labor & Commerce on March 23 at 8:00 am.
HB 1199 Licensed childcare in common interest communities. Prohibits an association of unit owners in a common interest community, e.g., condominiums or plat communities, from prohibiting, unreasonably restricting or limiting the use of a unit as a licensed family home child care or center. Scheduled for executive session in Senate Law & Justice Committee on March 22 at 6:00 pm.
HB 1525 Eligibility for Working Connections Child Care. Provides eligibility for WCCC for the first 12 months of enrollment in a state registered apprenticeship program. Requires that there be a copayment for those between 60%-85% State Median Income. Second substitute passed the House Appropriations Committee on February 24 with a null and void clause (in the event funding isn’t provided in the budget. Scheduled for public hearing on March 21 at 4:00 pm in the Senate Ways & Means. Sign-in PROby 3:00 pm on March 21.
HB 1550 Assist eligible children in need of additional preparation to be successful in kindergarten. Proposes to create a transition to kindergarten program to help fill gaps in access to high quality early learning for eligible children. This program would operate as part of the early learning ecosystem and work with other early care and education programs to promote coordinated systems of comprehensive early learning services; maximize efficient use of state, federal and local resources; and ensure that children and families get the quality early learning services they need in the most appropriate setting. 2SHB 1550 passed the House on March 6 with a 74 to 22 vote. Advocates anticipate greater opposition in the Senate. Scheduled for public hearing on March 22 at 1:30 pm in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee. Sign-in PROby 12:30 pm on March 22.
Given competing budget priorities, advocacy will be required to maintain existing early care and education funding levels and make progress toward implementing the Fair Start for Kids Act. Please follow the LWVWA Legislative Newsletter and be prepared to publicize the issues raised and advocate as individuals. If you’re interested in following particular issues and are willing to help with research and writing, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.