A new year for Washington begins with a new milestone for kids. The last two weeks of 2011 brought our state tens of millions of federal dollars, positioning Washington as a national leader in both children’s health and early learning.
In fact, our state was just one of four in the country to win national competitions for health and early learning, along with Ohio, Maryland and North Carolina.
Over the past three years, as nearly 165,000 children lost health coverage via their families’ employers, Apple Health for Kids enrolled 208,000 more children. The program now covers more than 4 out of every 10 children in the state.
Washingtonians can be proud of Apple Health for Kids. Because of its affordability and streamlined enrollment practices, kids in Washington are more likely to have health coverage than children in 39 other states.
Last week’s national recognition of Apple Health for Kids followed a Dec. 16 announcement that Washington earned a $60 million federal grant to begin building a high-quality, statewide early education system.
Taken together, these supports for kids will lead to healthier and more productive adulthoods, and a more secure economic future for our state. Washington’s national leadership and smart investments are evidenced in the progress we’ve made, as well as in the federal funds that help maximize every scarce dollar. For every $1 invested in early education, a $7 return can be expected, and the vitality and health of children day-to-day only benefits their time in the classroom.
And affordable children’s health coverage complements one of the state’s key constitutional obligations: providing a basic education.
We can be proud of our smart choices — as well as the values that drive them.