PASSED – Extended Medicaid Coverage for New Moms (SB58). This session, ACT actively and wholeheartedly supported Governor Dunleavy’s bill to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months. While this change will take time to go into effect, extending healthcare coverage for new mothers gives more time to address post-birth health issues such as postpartum depression, a condition that increases a family’s risk of entering the child welfare system. Senate Bill 58 passed both the House and Senate with nearly unanimous support.
ESTABLISHED – Governor’s Task Force on Child Care (AO 346). To find a way forward in addressing Alaska’s serious lack of affordable, accessible, high-quality child care, in April Governor Dunleavy announced a new task force to dig in and develop a plan. Given how complex the child care system truly is, advocates are pleased to see this attention to the sector and look forward to the task force’s work over the next year. Initial recommendations due December 2023; final in July 2024.
PASSED – FY24 State Budget Investments. While advocates would have liked to see even greater support in this year’s budget, there’s no doubt Alaska is heading in a direction to celebrate. Highlights include:
Child Care – $7.5M in one-time funding for child care worker wage increases (largest state investment in decades)
Head Start – $5M in one-time funding (for a total of $11M)
Pre-K – $3M for first year of universal pre-K grants (total of $8.7M)
K-12 Education – $680 per student in one-time funding (for a total of $6,640 per student) added to the Base Student Allocation (BSA) for K-12 public schools
New Home & Place-Based Child Care – $250,000 in one-time funding for grants and training for friends, family members, and neighbors looking to start home and place-based child care businesses
Trauma/ACES Reduction – $252,200 for grants to reduce childhood trauma and ACES through youth behavioral health services