The Ounce has released its 2019 State Policy Update Report.
It’s a “snapshot of states’ early childhood education policy priorities and budgetary changes during the 2019 legislative sessions.”
“We are excited to share highlights from each state that illustrate the persistent work of early childhood advocates, program providers, public officials ,and many other stakeholders who continue to move the field forward in creating environments in which young children and families can thrive,” a report overview says.
This year’s survey digs deep, asking survey respondents to:
• categorize 2019’s legislative, administrative and budgetary changes
• describe any work they did to advance federal policy, and
• identify and share stories about elected officials who are “early childhood champions”
The report also looks at early intervention programs; families’ mental health; workforce and professional development efforts; as well as revenue, governance, and data.
“All 50 states and D.C. were invited to complete our 2019 State Policy Update survey. Representatives from a total of 33 states responded.”
Among the policy wins, many states “made major policy changes and investments to improve the lives of young children and families.”
Massachusetts is praised for “working on workforce compensation and professional development through investments in the state budget and policy development at the Department of Early Education and Care.”
Specifically, the FY ’19 budget “created a workforce council at the Department of Early Education and Care,” a group of legislators, businesses, providers and advocates who meet monthly to “hear updates from agency staff and provide feedback and input on the design and implementation of Early Education and Care’s (EEC) workforce development systems.”
And Massachusetts’ FY’20 budget includes “$20 million for rate increases and $5 million for workforce grants to community colleges.” In addition, “FY20 is the sixth consecutive year the budget has included a rate reserve or rate increase for early educator salaries.”
Also in the mix here in Massachusetts is “a new proposal for universal access to affordable, high-quality early education and child care” that would cover parents who work nonstandard hours and would provide “appropriate professional development and compensation for early education and care providers.” A sliding scale fee would ensure that parents pay no more than 7 percent of their income. This proposal is currently in development, but placeholder legislation — An Act Relative to Affordable and Accessible High Quality Early Education and Care (H.470, S.288) — has been filed. For more info, visit our website.
When it comes to federal action, most of the states in the report are “engaged in advancing federal-level policy.” Twenty-six of the 33 respondents are working to “enhance the Child Care & Development Block Grant,” and many advocates report that they are “working to ensure children are accurately counted during the 2020 Census, developing plans for the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), and promoting the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).”
The report’s appendix provides more details on all the responding states.
Among the early childhood champions mentioned in the report are New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham as well as Kelly Blucher, a parent who lives in Washington (state) and shared her struggle to find and keep child care with her state’s Legislature.
“While these successes are impressive, they only scratch the surface of the accomplishments state advocates and their many partners have achieved over the past year,” the report notes.
In other words, states are generating an incredible amount of momentum in advancing early childhood education programs – progress that will help children across the country thrive.