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.
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|
|HB 1199||Licensed child care in common interest communities||Support
|HB 1451||Expand the child care workforce||Support
|HB 1511||Calculation of income for certain early learning and child care programs||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.
SB 5225 Increase access to the Working Connections Child Care Program (WCCC).Proposes to expand eligibility for WCCC assistance to include a parent or guardian participating in a specialty court or therapeutic court and prevents the state from considered immigration status when determining eligibility for WCCC for full-time students enrolled in higher education.
SB 5316 Background check and licensing fees for programs administered by DCYF. Proposes reducing barriers by waiving background check fees and increasing the period of background checks from three to five years. Continues a provision prohibiting licensing fees.
SB 5423 Eligibility for Working Connections Child Care. Provides eligibility for WCCC for the first 12 months of enrollment in a state registered apprenticeship program.
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.
HB 1451 Expand the childcare workforce. Directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to establish a child care worker pilot program for students. DCYF must develop and publish a model program manual for a program to assist middle and high school-age youth who routinely care for younger relatives, continue expanding a substitute pool for child care and early learning providers, and provide grants to organizations supporting child care workers and providers.HB 1511 Calculation of income for certain early learning and child care programs. Provides that for purposes of determining eligibility and copayments for certain programs, e.g., Working Connections Child Care and the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, income does not include payments received through child support, social security benefits, or supplemental security income.
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 email@example.com.