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Alabama

Our lead allies in Alabama are Alabama Partnership for Children and VOICES for Alabama’s Children. The Partnership for Children and VOICES are two of the four organizations that make up the Alabama School Readiness Alliance.

Together, our Alabama allies promote research-based policy solutions to improve overall child well-being. 

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 48% (252,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (2021). This number represents a decrease from 49% (258,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

On June 1, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the fiscal 2024 budgets for the General Fund and Education Trust Fund. The General Fund budget totals $3.01 billion, an increase of $274.8 million, or 10.03 percent, over fiscal 2023 appropriations (as reported in the governor’s recommended budget). The Education Trust Fund budget totals $8.8 billion, an increase of $536.5 million, or 6.5 percent, over fiscal 2023.3

Largest Per Capita Revenue Sources (after federal transfers) (FY 2021):4

    • Charges: $2,594 per capita
    • General Sales Taxes: $1,368 per capita

Charges are public payments connected with a specific government service, such as tuition paid to a state university, payments to a public hospital, or highway tolls. Alabama uses all major state and local taxes.

Political Alignment: Aligned Republican

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Republican controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Republican.5

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:6  One

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:7

2023 Policy Progress:

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:8

Increased funding for Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program by $8M in the FY24 Education Trust Fund (ETF) Budget and added another $4M from the Supplemental Funding. The Governor has requested that Pre-K classrooms for 4 year olds be fully funded in areas where poverty rate exceeds 30%. The Department of Early Childhood Education has identified 37 additional classrooms in these areas that will serve approximately 666 children.

Increased funding for Alabama Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) by $30M for a total allocation of $47.8M for FY24. The $30M provided in this year’s budget will replace federal dollars used for this purpose that will expire on September 30, 2023.

Alabama Department of Mental Health received a total of $210M (increase of $16M) from General Fund (GF) Budget and $77M (increase of $9M) ETF Budget; Alabama State Department of Education received $4.9M for School-Based Mental Health Service Coordinators.

Grocery Tax Reform Bill, passed unanimously, will reduce Alabama’s 4-cent state sales tax on groceries to 2 cents in two steps in two years, assuming that projected ETF revenues grow by at least 3.5%. If they don’t, the reduction will occur in the first year when revenue growth does meet that threshold. This equates to approximately $600/family. The sales tax cut on groceries could represent one of the largest tax cuts in Alabama history affecting the most people.

Education Highlights:

    • Teachers and education support personnel received a 2% pay increase this year.
    • Alabama Reading Initiative funding stayed the same at $94.2 million, of which $36.8 million goes to pay for K-3 reading coaches
    • Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) funding increased by $25 million for a total of $73.3 million
    • Alabama Numeracy Act funding was increased by $25 million for a total of $40 million
    • Summer and Afterschool Program – received $2.86 million

Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) which works to increase food security at the local level received $200,000 from the General Fund Budget. These funds will be distributed as matching grants through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs received $3M for broadband accessibility grants to support expansion of access and affordability of broadband throughout the state. This will improve access to resources and services for all Alabamians regardless of where they live.

There were two initiatives that did not pass but have good momentum for 2024. Advocates pursued Medicaid expansion to provide health coverage for the 340,000 working Alabamians currently uninsured. The Governor can authorize the expansion with an Executive Order, and Cover Alabama hosted a call-in day to the Governor on June 21, 2023 on which more than 500 advocates made calls. Advocates also pursued a refundable tax credit to businesses that provide on-site child care or child care benefits to employees.

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantees in Alabama, Alabama’s School Readiness Alliance, Alabama’s Partnership for Children and Voices for Alabama’s Children, are working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

Preschool and Pre-K

Child and
Maternal Health

Child Welfare

Early Intervention (0-3)

Infant and Child Health

Family
Supports

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Early Childhood Finance and Cost Modeling

Click here for more information on advocates’ policy agenda.

Alabama Child Care Roadmap: Alabama allies are also working together to pursue the recommendations in a joint child care roadmap. The roadmap, released in 2024, outlines six areas in which short and long-term recommendations are made. Developed through a collaborative project led by Alabama Partnership for Children, Alabama School Readiness Alliance, and VOICES for Alabama’s Children, Child Care in Alabama: A Roadmap to Support Alabama’s Parents, Children, Employers and Economy was created with data received from focus groups, work groups, and over 20 years of child care studies. Read the full roadmap here.

RECENT ADVOCACY SNAPSHOT:

A $40 Million Win for Early Education and Care in Alabama

Allies at the Alabama School Readiness Alliance (ASRA), VOICES for Alabama’s Children, and Alabama Partnership for Children championed legislation that led to a historic state investment to child care and pre-k – a new and improved QRIS system that includes generous incentive payments to providers and provides coaches to help programs improve their quality and adding 125 classrooms to the First Class Pre-k program.

Read More »

NOTES:

1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 Urban Institute, State Fiscal Briefs, July 2023

5 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

6 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

7 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

8 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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