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A MESSAGE FROM OUR DIRECTOR
DELIBERATIONS CONTINUE OVER STATE BUDGET
While the General Assembly's 2022 regular session was scheduled to wrap up March 12, budget conferees - select members of the House and Senate involved in budget negotiations - were unable to reach a compromise on a final 2023-2024 state budget. With negotiations left unresolved, Governor Glenn Youngkin issued a proclamation earlier this month calling all members to meet in Special Session beginning April 4 to complete the budget.
Now for some good news! With budget negotiations extending beyond scheduled General Assembly adjournment, we have the opportunity to continue voicing our priorities to key policymakers. We need your help in reaching out to budget conferees to underscore the importance of investing in Virginia's early learning system! This means urging these policymakers to include provisions that will help to increase child care access and affordability as well as stabilize the child care sector.
If you haven't done so already, please consider taking 5 minutes to send an email to these policymakers voicing your support. Click the "Contact Budget Conferees" button below to take action!
Already sent an email? Forward the link to a family member or friend encouraging them to express their support too!
PROGRESS MADE TO ADVANCE EARLY CHILDHOOD DURING 2022 SESSION
Despite unresolved budget negotiations, we were excited to see the passage of a number of early childhood care and education (ECCE) bills during the 2022 General Assembly regular session. Together, these measures will increase child care access and affordability as well as help to stabilize the child care sector.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin signs Del. Emily Brewer's (R-Suffolk) HB 994 into law on Mar. 13. This bill takes steps to expand Child Care Subsidy Program benefits to members of the Armed Forces.
Bills passed this session will:
- Establish more robust regional public-private child care resources and infrastructure (HB 389) *
Take steps to expand Child Care Subsidy Program benefits to members of the Armed Forces (HB 994 / SB 529)
- Require the Virginia Board of Education to include at least one representative each with experience or expertise in early education, local government, and career and technical education (HB 879) *
Aim to expand the pool of available child care programs by permitting rental agreements to allow for the operation of licensed child care programs by tenants out of their apartment units (SB 69) *
* Awaiting Governor Youngkin's signature.
Additionally, Sen. Monty Mason (D-Williamsburg) championed efforts during the regular session to address widespread child care workforce shortages caused, in part, by background check delays within the Virginia Department of Social Services (DSS). Since session adjourned, Sen. Mason has partnered with Sen. Frank Ruff (R-Mecklenburg) to work with DSS Commissioner Danny Avula on efforts to address the underlying causes of these delays. Commissioner Avula has committed to improving the background check process to reduce delays and burden to child care providers.
All of this information (and more!) can be seen through our "2022 General Assembly Tracker." Check out our tracker through the button below:
Interested in learning more about what we supported and advocated for during the 2022 regular session? Take a look at our "2022 Session Priorities," available through the button below:
U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF CHILD CARE
On March 22, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on the state of America’s child care crisis. All four hearing witnesses - representing policy experts, practitioners, and state leaders - underscored the central role stable, quality child care plays in our economy, and cited the need for significant federal investment in child care through the reconciliation process in Congress. This included Annandale, Virginia-based provider Maria-Isabel Ballivian, who serves as the Executive Director of ACCA Child Development Center.
“Early childhood education in America is a broken system in which service is too expensive for working and disadvantaged families, and centers’ profit margins are chronically thin. The pandemic has worsened the situation, forcing parents to leave the workforce due to a lack of quality programs. Parents face long waitlists and increased tuitions, and programs confront critical staffing shortages, supply chain disruptions, and unprecedented inflationary pressures. Without question, we are facing a crippling emergency,” explained Ballivian.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle echoed these points, underscoring the importance of child care to the well-being of American families and our economy.
"Too many parents cannot afford high quality child care even if they can find it. We have to value the services, the care, the commitment that come from child care providers for our little ones and if you look at it, it looks like we haven’t placed any value on it," said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
“I’m amazed at the bipartisan nature of this hearing in terms of what people are agreeing on here. One, that a greater investment in high quality child care would be good for kids. Two, that the greater investment would be good for families. Three, that the greater investment would be good for educators. And four, that the greater investment would be good for the workforce," added Virginia Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).
The hearing took place amid ongoing discussions in the U.S. House and Senate around budget reconciliation. This process requires only a simple majority to pass tax, spending, and debt limit bills, and allows Congress to appropriate funds for more than one year at a time. The House and Senate have considered proposals as part of an Fiscal Year 2022 reconciliation package that, if enacted, would help to build a strong, stable early learning system that meets the needs of families, providers, and the economy. Learn more on the status of reconciliation negotiations here.
The Virginia Promise Partnership launched our own podcast, Promise Insider, focused on child care and early childhood education advocacy in Virginia!
Subscribe and listen today through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify to hear from experts and learn how we can give children the future they want, need and deserve!
Virginia Promise Advocates participated in a Mar. 29 Advocacy Training hosted in partnership with member organization Save the Children Action Network. Participants learned how to strategically use the "off" season to raise public awareness about the importance of early childhood care and education.
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