In just half a year, life in Washington state has changed profoundly. The global pandemic has taken the lives of more than 2,000 of our neighbors, friends and family. The recession has cost 200,000 workers their jobs.
And the resulting stresses on families, workers, schools and businesses have not spared children—whose access to quality early care and in-person K-12 learning, routine health care, nutritious food and other forms of support are all in jeopardy.
COVID-19 and the resulting recession are exacerbating features of our country’s deeply rooted racism—the inequalities that were made starkly visible this summer with the police killing of George Floyd and the ensuing protests.
The long struggle to undo racism and anti-Blackness continues: here in Washington state and in every democratic institution at the state, local and national level. There are things our state lawmakers can do, starting now, to address racial inequities, weather the recession, and protect kids from harm.
In the coming months, Children’s Alliance will work with Washington’s parents, policymakers and community leaders to:
Preserve and enhance high-quality early experiences for every child, including birth-to-three, child care, and preschool. Ensure that critical child care infrastructure, especially local businesses and nonprofit organizations owned and run by people of color, can continue to power the economy and enrich kids’ lives.
Protect and expand health care for kids and families. Protect vital safety net services like Apple Health for Kids, the dental benefit for adults on Medicaid, and health and dental coverage for Micronesians from countries with Compacts of Free Association (COFA) with the U.S. Counteract the pandemic’s threats to healthy families by authorizing dental therapists, already at work on Washington’s Tribal lands, to increase access to dental care statewide.
Invest in kids: Progressive, sustainable revenue sources, such as a capital gains tax, can create more for all to share—and also further racial justice. Close wasteful tax breaks and adopt new sources of revenue.
All across our state, families are struggling mightily, under unprecedented strain, to give their kids the very best. Our elected representatives need to follow their lead.