News   |   Sign Up   |   A LEVER FOR SCALE

Child Care NEXT 2023 Progress Snapshot: Building Power for the Child Care Agenda

Since the Child Care NEXT initiative cohort was announced in the summer of 2021, state coalitions have been making foundational progress on their coalitions and transformation plans. This work is about building a large, durable constituency for child care in a state, so much of the early work is on building a coalition infrastructure that aligns with the core principles and collective power milestones of the initiative.

Transformative change can only happen if there’s a powerful, diverse, and durable constituency, made up of people who are most impacted, who speak loudly with a unified voice, demand bold actions, and hold policymakers accountable.

As state teams convened for a cohort gathering and workshop this spring, many were already reporting significant progress in laying the groundwork for such a grassroots constituency for child care. 

In November of 2022, voters in New Mexico passed a ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to authorize a 1.25 percent increase in the annual distribution of the state’s Permanent Land Grant Fund, with 60 percent of the new revenue dedicated to early childhood education. This amounts to more than $120 million in 2023. OLÉ, one of the lead partners in the New Mexico Child Care NEXT coalition, dedicated years to get the proposal on the ballot and led the campaign to ensure its passage. In doing so, they leveraged the grassroots constituency built from past campaigns on minimum wage, paid leave, and other issues and cultivated a strong base of parents and early childhood educators around child care reform. 

The legislature also passed monumental budget increases for child care and pre-k in 2023 for a total ECE budget increase of 38% — including a $109 million increase for universal pre-k and a $98 million increase for child care from the Early Childhood Trust Fund to maintain waived copays and increased eligibility up to 400% FPL. The New Mexico coalition advanced these priorities during the legislative session, with parents, educators and advocates testifying in hearings and rallying for child care reforms. 

This constituency will now increase the power of the Child Care NEXT coalition as they work to ensure these funds support elements of their vision for change, including a professional career and compensation ladder for early educators and providing free child care to all families earning less than four times the federal poverty level. 

The Empire State Campaign for Child Care is creating a “bigger We” for child care. In the past year, coalition members such as Advocates for Quality Education, ECE on the Move, Western New York Child Care Action Team, and Citizen Action NY have grown a constituency of parents and early childhood educators and provided them training and support to play a leadership role the campaign. These grassroots activists have made their presence felt in the legislature, the Governor’s office, online, and in the streets. In February 2023, the Empire State Campaign for Child Care returned to the State Capitol for a rally with 150 participants from across New York State. The Campaign also held a virtual rally with 350 live attendees, held 75 meetings with legislators, and sent 850 letters calling for a $1 billion investment in the child care workforce. Their collective voice is further amplified by a robust communications strategy, both in social and traditional media platforms.

The group has grown so much in size and strength that it has attracted other grassroots organizations outside of the ECE space, like immigrant rights and civil rights groups, to join in the fight. In 2023, this vocal and visible constituency is helping the campaign keep elected officials accountable for the commitments they made in 2022 to invest in a universal child care system.

“We will also grow our base of support among other advocacy communities, including social justice, community action agencies, United Ways, immigrant rights, economic justice organizations, and business leaders—with a focus on small businesses.” 

Empire State Coalition for Child Care Report 

All six Child Care NEXT state coalitions are preparing to harness the power of a diverse, grass-roots coalition working together for their state’s children. 

Stay in the loop by joining the Alliance news and invitations list: