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District of Columbia

Our lead allies in the District, Educare DC and DC Action, lead key early childhood coalitions and work in tandem to advocate for the DC Council to fund its signature Birth to Three early childhood initiative and improve compensation for the early childhood workforce in the District. As a direct service provider, Educare DC is able to provide on-the-ground insight into how policies impact individual children and families. They use their voice and the power of the network of Educare schools to advocate for quality early care and education. DC Action uses research, data, and a racial equity lens to break down barriers that stand in the way of all kids reaching their full potential. Together with our young people, parents and community partners, DC Action advocates for public policies that support kids at every step from early childhood to early adulthood.

2022 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.

Policy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

On July 10, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the fiscal 2024 budget, which provides $19.8 billion in total funds, a decrease of $156.3 million, or 0.8 percent, compared to fiscal 2023. The local funds portion of the budget is $10.7 billion, a decrease of $70.2 million, or 0.7 percent, from fiscal 2023. General fund revenues in the budget are forecast at $11.03 billion, an increase of 2.9 percent over the fiscal 2023 approved amount. The local fund revenues, a component of the general fund, are estimated at $9.7 billion in fiscal 2024. The general fund ending balance is projected to be $3.6 billion in fiscal 2024. 1

Political Alignment: Aligned Democrat

During the 2022 budget season, the District’s council was Democrat controlled. The District’s mayor was also a Democrat.2

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 36% (26,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% FPL. This number represents a decrease from 40% (27,000) in 2015.3

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

Non-White children 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% FPL.3

Advocacy Landscape:

Key state policy advocacy organizations include:

Early childhood policy advocacy multi-state initiatives present in the state include4:

2022 Policy Progress:

In 2022 the DC Council finally funded the teacher compensation provisions of the landmark Birth-to-Three for All DC law. The Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund application went live in August and teachers will begin receiving up to $14,000 in pay supplements in September. Advocates also successfully secured increased investment in home visiting, behavioral health, and child-development health programs that will expand access to these services across the District.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include5:

Back in 2018, the Council of the District of Columbia passed the Birth-to-Three for All DC law. The law calls for compensation for early educators equivalent to public school teachers with similar education and experience. In 2021, the DC Council raised public funds to make it happen by increasing the personal income tax rate on residents of the District with the highest incomes. In 2022, the first phase of increased compensation is underway with pay supplements of up to $14,000 paid directly to educators. And then the permanent compensation increases will be paid through employers as part of teachers’ regular paychecks starting in FY 2024. 

After years of operating on unstable, one-time dollars, DC home visiting programs funded by the District’s child welfare agency, Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA), secured a $70,500 recurring investment. Recurring funding will allow these programs, which serve fathers, expecting teens, and returning citizens, to continue to serve families without the tumult of annual losses in funding. 

The DC Council increased investment in DC Health’s Healthy Steps program by $300,000, which will fund a new site in Ward 5, 7, or 8 that integrates a licensed child-development health professional in pediatric primary care settings. It also provided an additional $700,000 to the Department of Behavioral Health’s Healthy Futures to expand its behavioral health counseling services to more child care programs participating in the District’s subsidy program. 

Effective October 2022, DC expecting parents can access doula services through Medicaid for the duration of a pregnancy and up to 6 months postpartum. Medicaid covers nearly 40 percent of DC births, meaning that this policy will enable the District to support a significant portion of the births with the greatest need for Doula services. 

New OSSE regulations will soon take effect that raise the minimum educational requirements for the early childhood education workforce. By December 2022, Center Directors will be required to hold a Bachelor’s degree (BA) in early childhood education. By December 2023, Teachers and Expanded Home Caregivers will be required to have at least an Associate degree (AA) in early childhood education, and Assistant Teachers, Home Caregivers, and Associate Home Caregivers will be required to have at least a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. To support the workforce in earning these credentials, OSSE has launched the DC Leading Educators Toward Advanced Degrees (DC LEAD) grant program that provides scholarships to early childhood educators for coursework in Associate and Bachelor degree programs. 


District Advocacy Snapshot:


1 Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budget, October 11, 2023

National Conference of State Legislatures, 2021 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 2, 2022.

Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, December, 2020; NCCP Analysis of ACS 5-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2016-2020.

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

Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-September, 2022.  

2023 Grantee Policy Agenda:

The Alliance’s lead grantees in District of Columbia, DC Action for Children & Educare DC, are working to advance early childhood policies in several areas: 

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Child Care Workforce


Child and
Maternal Health

Infant & Child Health

Early Intervention (Age 0-3)


Home Visiting


More State Policy Data:

District of Columbia
District of Columbia
District of Columbia

More State Demographic Data:

District of Columbia
District of Columbia