State & Federal Budget News
Legislators headed back to Olympia this week for the start of the 30-day special session. The House and Senate failed to agree on a final budget for the 2013-2015 biennium which brings them back together in Olympia for some heated negotiations. On the table is funding for education and whether the legislature will adhere to the Supreme Court mandate to fully fund education by 2018. Learn more about what this means on the Washington State Budget & Policy Center website.
In other budget news, we at SOWA were extremely concerned with proposed budget cuts to the Child Care Development fund, a federal funding stream which supports early learning and school-age supports. The current proposal includes a 56% cut to supports and resources for school-age providers reallocating those funds towards early learning.
Professional development and technical assistance are critical to improving quality, and maintaining high quality before and afterschool care in licensed child care settings. This proposed cut would dismantle an efficient system of support through the Washington Regional Afterschool Project that has been built over the past 14 years.
The Department of Early Learning is accepting public comment. Click here for a sample e-mail that you can cut, paste and add personal comments then send directly to CCDF2013@del.wa.gov. This will only take a few minutes of your time and will make a huge difference in letting DEL know that school-age matters! We have also prepared a fact sheet with more background information and can help you with additional messaging. Contact Janet Schmidt for support.
Lastly, budget negotiations are also currently underway at the federal level. At stake is funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, the only federal funding stream dedicated to supporting afterschool and summer learning. There is proposed language that could divert these funds to extended day programs that don’t provide the same experiential and hands-on learning that enhances what students learn during the school day. There may also be cuts to funding. The Afterschool Alliance has more information on their website along with steps you can take to support this funding stream. We leave you with a quote from a high school student participant in a NY YMCA program who testified in Washington, D.C. on the value and critical importance of 21st CCLC funding:
“The program kept me safe and off the street during the afterschool hours, but more importantly, this program had a special focus on teaching me about advocacy, public policy, leadership skills and the importance of civics education and being a part of the solution to our society’s problems. As a matter of fact, it’s this program that gave me the skills and confidence to be here today. I learned in the program that my opinion is important and my voice is powerful.” Read the full testimony here.
There’s lots happening both at the state and federal level so stay tuned for more updates in the coming days and weeks.