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Maryland

Our lead ally in Maryland, Maryland Family Network (MFN), is a voice in Annapolis and Washington, D.C. making sure that the needs of young children and their families are a priority with lawmakers. They administer the state’s network of Family Support Centers and Child Care Resource Centers.

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 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 30% (195,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% FPL (2021). This number represents a decrease from 31% (204,000) 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% FPL than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

On April 24 Maryland Governor Wes Moore approved the state’s fiscal 2024 budget, which provides approximately $63.1 billion in all funds appropriations, a decrease of roughly $932.8 million (1.5 percent) from adjusted fiscal 2023 appropriations. The budget includes $27.2 billion in general fund appropriations, a decrease of 3.2 percent compared to fiscal 2023. Federal fund spending decreases by $1.8 billion (8.7 percent) in fiscal 2024 compared to fiscal 2023, primarily driven by the end of the federal enhanced Medicaid match provided during the COVID-19 pandemic and anticipated enrollment declines due to the redetermination process.3

Key Revenue Sources:

    • Personal Income Tax (2.0%-5.75%)
    • State Sales Tax (6.0%)

Political Alignment: Aligned Democratic

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Democrat controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Democrat.4

Types of Ballot Measures Available:5  Three

    • Legislature-initiated state statute – Appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Legislature-initiated constitutional amendment – 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.
    • Veto referendum – When the citizens of Maryland disagree with a statute or legislative bill enacted by the state legislature, they can collect signatures to force the issue to a vote. If enough signatures are collected, the bill is placed on the statewide ballot.

Key State Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:6

2023 Policy Progress:

Following the fall elections and a return to single-party rule, an abundance of new players took up pivotal roles at every level of government, even as key appointments, shifting Committee assignments, and special elections of new legislators carried into March. Challenges aside, the 2023 session brought major progress in policy areas of key concern to Maryland Family Network, including as always child care, pre-kindergarten expansion, and family economic security. 

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:7

HB 495 / SB 350 raises the floor for Child Care Scholarship eligibility and benefits to their current, historically high levels, while providing critical safeguards against cost cutting in the future. The value to parents, children, and child care providers will be enormous. This legislation will serve as a springboard for future advocacy to expand access to affordable child care to all Maryland families.

The principle of “mixed delivery” is a cornerstone of pre-K expansion in Maryland, but the public-private partnerships needed for mixed delivery to work have been hamstrung by certification barriers that prevent most high-quality child care programs from participating.  HB 1219 / SB 893 requires the State to establish viable alternative pathways to certification that recognize prior learning criteria and build on providers’ strengths.

Last year’s landmark “Time to Care” Act put Maryland on the path to having one of the country’s strongest and most comprehensive family and medical leave insurance programs, but that bill left important considerations to be determined. This year’s HB 988 / SB 828 codifies employer-employee cost sharing on an equal basis, among other key provisions.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are the most powerful anti-poverty tools local, state, and federal governments have at their disposal. HB 547 / SB 552 will permanently strengthen Maryland’s EITC and CTC and provide additional aid to millions of Marylanders. Combined, the two tax credits could benefit more than 500,000 Maryland taxpayers, and the CTC alone could lift 40,000 children out of poverty.

Budget advocacy always constitutes a top priority for MFN. For the upcoming fiscal 2024, allocations to key programs held ground in many cases and saw scheduled increases (via Blueprint funding) in others. The latter category includes an additional $990,000 for the State’s network of Patty Centers (also known as Family Support Centers), bringing total FY 2024 funding for the network to $10.2 million. However, several tranches of federal pandemic relief funds that have weighed favorably on Maryland’s balance sheet since 2020 are dwindling toward expiration. An unexpectedly robust economic rebound that bolstered the state’s fiscal outlook a year ago appears to be dissipating. After a disheartening report from the Bureau of Revenue Estimates early in Session, the Governor and the General Assembly reckoned with a projected $500 million revenue write-down. Ambitions that ran high in the wake of the election suddenly had their brakes firmly applied.

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantee in Maryland, Maryland Family Network, is 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

Preschool and Pre-K

K-3rd Grade

Child and
Maternal Health

Family
Supports

Paid Family Leave

Early Childhood Infrastructure

RECENT ADVOCACY SNAPSHOT:

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

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

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

7 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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