The 2020 legislative session ended just as the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting communities across the state. Despite the pandemic’s challenges (see “Budget Cuts and Vetoes” below), the legislature took some good steps forward for kids and families.
We'd like to thank all of the advocates and Children's Alliance members who spoke up for our communities. When we work together, we can make a real difference!
We called on lawmakers to invest in affordable, high-quality, culturally relevant early experiences. They passed House Bill 2556, increasing access to training opportunities for child care providers working to meet licensing requirements. They also made budget investments in Working Connections Child Care for working families struggling with the high cost of care; and they strengthened child care assistance for families experiencing homelessness. See a complete list of results in early learning here.
We led a statewide coalition of oral health advocates calling for the authorization of dental therapy to increase oral health care access. While the bill was not passed out of the House before the legislative cut-off, we are incredibly proud of the movement we are building together with equity-focused partners and many individuals who came forward to share their experiences with the dental access crisis. We look forward to continuing to fight for an equitable oral health care system through dental therapy in 2021.
We asked the legislature to close wasteful tax breaks and adopt new sources of revenue, including a capital gains tax. Lawmakers failed to adopt significant, lasting revenue to invest in kids. With the state now facing a projected $8.8 billion revenue shortfall due to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clearer than ever that urgent action on revenue solutions, such as a progressive tax on capital gains, is needed to make recovery possible for children, families, and our economy.
Have a Heart for Kids Day
Advocates from across Washington state gathered in Olympia to raise our voices for children and families. We were joined by Governor Jay Inslee and Representative Debra Entenman who shared what they're doing to help our kids thrive. Our friends at Outside Thinc were there to capture the action—check out our video of the day and our full photo album.
Early Learning Advocacy Day
Together with our partners Early Learning Action Alliance, Child Care Aware of Washington, Save the Children Action Network, Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP, and Zero to Three we brought together hundreds of child advocates for a powerful day of action. We felt inspired by all of the kids and families who showed up to make change and work towards a better future for all of us.
Budget Cuts and Vetoes
With COVID-19’s impact just beginning to take shape as the 2020 legislative session came to a close, Gov. Inslee made a number of hard decisions in the form of budget cuts and vetoes to bills and investments that matter to kids. With the state now facing an $8.8 billion revenue shortfall, these cuts and vetoes were just a preview of what lawmakers face as the COVID-19 pandemic stresses state resources in the months and years 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.
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 become clear that vulnerable and marginalized communities are facing 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.