Supporting a Public Education and Advocacy Campaign for Early Childhood
As part of its policy work, the Foundation supports a public education and advocacy campaign that is engaging a wide array of voices to call attention to the importance of investing in programs for young children and their families. Previously, the Foundation supported efforts to call attention to the need for paid family leave, and currently we are focused on making the case for implementing the vision embodied in the Birth-to-Three For All DC Act of 2018. The Act is designed to:
- Give families better access to health services and family supports, including prenatal and maternal care, home visiting, mental health services and other wrap-around supports
- Support early childhood educators with fair compensation and help in attaining required professional credentials
- Fully fund the District’s child care subsidy program to make care more affordable for all families
When implemented, this groundbreaking legislation will make the District a national leader in providing comprehensive supports for all children, beginning before birth and up to age 3. And it will start to address the stark disparities in resources and supports that exist across the District, affecting young children’s opportunity to thrive.
In order for the Act to fulfill its promise, substantial funding is needed. In 2019, the District’s Mayor and Council included $15.8 million in their FY20 budget, including more than $9 million for child care subsidies and compensation for early educators.
With support from the Foundation, a variety of organizations engaged D.C. residents to share diverse perspectives on the importance of these programs with District decision-makers. The public education and advocacy campaign‘s Executive Committee includes DC Working Families, Jews United for Justice, SPACEs (Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity) in Action, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, DC Action for Children and the DC Early Learning Collaborative.
Many other organizations, including but not limited to the Foundation’s early learning policy and practice partners, are part of a large coalition that is working to advance comprehensive early childhood solutions. With funding from the Foundation, the coalition is working to engage and build the capacity of several additional community-based organizations to give even more community residents a platform to share their perspectives on the importance of the early years: Advocates for Justice and Education; Fair Budget Coalition; Mamatoto Village; Many Languages, One Voice; Mary’s Center; and Parents Amplifying Voices in Education. The coalition also works with Council for a Strong America to mobilize high-level “unexpected” champions (especially those in business) to underscore the importance of helping children get a strong start in life.