Champions for Children are state lawmakers recognized by Children’s Alliance for their work to further our annual legislative agenda. Each of the following legislators provided significant leadership during the 2022 legislative session in advancing state policies or investments to improve the well-being of children in Washington.
This year, we recognize 10 lawmakers whose leadership was critical in a variety of measures affecting Washington’s kids and families. Children’s Alliance was honored to work with allies, community members, and advocates across the state to realize these achievements and build a foundation for continued work in the next legislative session.
Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) played a lead role in increasing the Working Connections Child Care subsidy. This better positions child care centers to support their staff and continue to serve Washington’s young children—the most racially diverse generation in the state.
Rep. Eileen Cody (D-Seattle) was a champion for House Bill 1885, easing the gaps in dental access by authorizing the practice of dental therapy statewide. Although the bill failed to move in 2022 due to time constraints, Rep. Cody positioned it for success in 2023.
Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley (D-Seattle), has been a champion for families dealing with the state’s juvenile justice system. During the 2022 session, Rep. Harris-Talley was the prime sponsor of two bills signed into law: HB 1894 increases access to juvenile diversion programs while HB 2050 eases financial burdens on families coping with the detention or incarceration of a loved one.
Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane) championed HB 1878, which allows more Washington schools to serve free school meals to all students. This is great news for hungry kids and academic achievement as students continue to recover from the pandemic’s shocks to health care and economic well-being.
Rep. My-Linh Thai (D-Bellevue) was the prime sponsor of 2021 legislation allowing more families to benefit from the Working Families Tax Credit, our state’s version of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, which puts money into the pockets of working people with low incomes. This year, Rep. Thai prime sponsored HB 1888, authorizing the state to annually adjust the rate for the Working Families Tax Credit based on qualifying income changes and help Washingtonians keep up with the cost of living.
Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island) championed HB 1905 to provide more services and resources to help ensure young people have access to housing when they’re leaving foster care, behavioral health treatment, or juvenile rehabilitation.
Sen. Yasmin Trudeau (D-Tacoma) prime sponsored SB 5702, which will help new parents to access donor breast milk by requiring that all health plans provide coverage for medically necessary donor breast milk for inpatient use when ordered by a licensed health care provider or a certified lactation consultant. She also prime sponsored SB 5883 to increase youth access to needed health care by allowing unaccompanied homeless minors to provide informed consent for non-emergency, outpatient, primary health care services.
Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Federal Way) championed SB 5793, which improves the health of our democracy by ensuring that people with lived experience who serve on state boards and commissions that shape the future provision of services can be compensated for their time. The bill provides stipends and reimbursement of other expenses for eligible individuals.
Sen. T’wina Nobles (D-Fircrest) prime sponsored SB 5838 for Washington children whose families use Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The bill allows the state to make additional monthly payments to families with children under the age of 3, for the purpose of child-related necessities such as diapers.
Rep. Paul Harris (R-17th) championed HB 1684, which would improve oral health for children by increasing communitywide access to water with a healthy balance of fluoride. While the bill did not advance, the state allocated a combined $532,000 to the Department of Health to create a program within the Office of Drinking Water to offer engineering assistance to help local water systems plan for future community water fluoridation. Oral health is important to overall health; adding fluoride to public water systems can improve oral health and prevent tooth decay.
For more information about Champions for Children: Stephan Blanford, executive director