Statement: Bainum Family Foundation Applauds New District Investments for Infants and Toddlers

Statement from:
Barbara Bainum, LCSW-C
Chair of the Board, CEO and President
Bainum Family Foundation

Today, the DC Council passed groundbreaking legislation that, when implemented, will make the District of Columbia a national leader in providing comprehensive birth-to-three supports. This legislation begins to confront the inequitable outcomes ― including stark differences by race and family income ― for children in the District beginning at birth.

Unanimously approved by the Council, the “Birth-to-Three for All DC Act of 2018” will 1) give families better access to health services and family supports, including home visiting, mental health services and other wrap-around services; 2) support early childhood educators with fair compensation and help in attaining required credentials; and 3) fully fund the District’s child care subsidy program to make care more affordable for all families.

Today’s action marks the culmination of three years of activity that was launched by our 2015 report, which documented sharp inequities in the lives of young children in the District of Columbia and called on District leaders to develop a “comprehensive set of supports, services and policies for infants, toddlers and their families.”

The Bainum Family Foundation appreciates the attention given to early childhood issues by District leadership, including Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC Council, and we especially applaud today’s action by the Council.

Moving forward, the Council and Mayor must ensure resources to fund these enhancements. The Council’s recently passed Fiscal Year 2019 Local Budget Act includes a down payment of $5.3 million over four years to fund expanded services for young children and families through the District’s tobacco tax revenue.

The Foundation has been proud to partner with District government and many other committed residents, advocates and leaders — including members of the Birth-to-Three Policy Alliance — to strengthen education and health supports for infants and toddlers, especially in the District’s East End. These latest policy enhancements represent a great step forward, and we commend all who made it possible. These supports will benefit not only our youngest residents and their families, but our entire community, because we all win when children have a better chance to succeed.