The COVID-19 pandemic hammered the state capitol last Friday, in the form of budget cuts and vetoes to bills and investments that matter to kids. And as Gov. Jay Inslee noted, these hard decisions were just a preview of what lawmakers would face as coronavirus stresses state resources in the months to come.
Among the dismaying losses for kids and families were:
- the veto of Apple Health postpartum coverage for birthing parents, which would have helped pave the way for low-income parents, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, to maintain their access to health care in the crucial first year of a new baby’s life;
- elimination of funding to strengthen early learning opportunities for children in bilingual and diverse households, which would serve to protect the cultural diversity of the state’s early learning system;
- no increase in copayment assistance for parents participating in Working Connections, so that they can maintain their access to child care after a minor pay increase.
Despite these cuts, we were thankful to see that Gov. Inslee preserved much of the Legislature’s major achievements for young families, including greater investments in child care for working families, better access to child care for families experiencing homelessness, and community-based training pathways to ensure that child care providers can stay on the job. See a complete list of results in early learning here.
As it strains the child care infrastructure and pushes households into hunger, it’s clear this pandemic will have long-term consequences for all of us. It’s also becoming clear that vulnerable and marginalized communities will face the most severe impacts. In the weeks and months to come, in partnership with policymakers and people (like you!) who care about kids, we’ll seek to protect them from harmful decisions—and promote steps to equity so that all families can thrive.