After the announcement of Child Care NEXT in the spring of 2021, 36 states applied to be a part of the movement. The three-dozen proposals came from states of a wide variety of sizes, regions, and political landscapes, reflecting the growing belief that a strong child care system is essential to recovery from COVID-19 and long-term success. State teams made up of a wide range of diverse stakeholders came together to craft each of the proposals, demonstrating a commitment to build and share the type of power than leads to sustained and transformative change.
These state teams have built strong foundations for operationalizing the core principles of Child Care NEXT, and they showed recent advocacy, policy, and revenue efforts in early care and education that demonstrate a commitment to ambitious and transformative changes in their states’ child care systems.
Team Leaders: Colorado Children’s Campaign, Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition
The Colorado team has a history of forming coalitions among advocacy organizations that share leadership to pursue early childhood policy goals, often with racial equity as an explicit goal or context for the work. In 2016, the Equity in Early Childhood Coalition worked on suspensions and expulsions legislation. In 2018, the Raise Colorado Coalition formed to elevate infant-toddler priorities. And in 2020, the Removing Barriers Coalition passed legislation to give undocumented residents greater access to public benefits, including child-care subsidies. A recent pre-k stakeholder engagement process also gave state advocates an opportunity to listen to families’ interests not only in pre-k, but also for a strong 0-5 child care system. These community conversations led to the idea of a cabinet-level agency for early childhood education, which became a bill that passed into law in 2021.
The Colorado team’s priorities include leveraging Family Friend and Neighbor (FFN) child care as a key part of the ECE system and advancing family-informed quality standards as a complement to more traditional, research-based markers of quality.
Team Leaders: Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, Wilcox Academy of Early Learning
The Louisiana team is co-led by the director of a statewide policy and advocacy organization and a director of an ECE program who is deeply invested in organizing her peers to advocate for policy change. The team also includes the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, a leading organizing force that builds political power in communities of color across the state. These groups have a track record of working together on initiatives such as the Louisiana Platform for Children, Medicaid expansion, mandatory kindergarten, and repealing the “pink tax” on hygiene products. This year, they passed a bill to allocate revenue from sports betting to ECE.
The team’s vision for transformation in Louisiana will build on a blueprint for change from the state’s Early Childhood Care and Education Commission and several recently implemented initiatives, including pilot family child-care networks and Ready Start Networks that build local governance and leadership.
Team Leaders: Growing Up NM, OLÉ, and the Southwest Women’s Law Center, with additional collaboration and partnership from the New Mexico Child Care Association and the Early Childhood Education and Care Department
The New Mexico team is a collaboration that builds on recent collective work in early care and education and paid family leave and leverages these organizations’ assets and experience in ECE policy, grassroots organizing and power building, legal analysis, and racial and gender equity. This team leads a coalition that represents the rich diversity of New Mexico, including tribes, immigrant families, and rural communities.
In recent years, New Mexico has been on a trajectory for transforming its child care system. With a new cabinet-level ECE agency and the Early Childhood Trust Fund, it has achieved success in ECE governance and financing. A ballot measure to make early childhood education a state responsibility in its constitution would open up more sustained revenue for ECE. And with a recent cost of quality study, the state could be in a position to fund high-quality ECE at scale. During their pandemic, New Mexico was an early leader in how it used its relief funding in child care, especially as it relates to supports and compensation for early childhood educators. Child Care NEXT will help the state accelerate its journey to create a more equitable and effective child care system for children, families, providers, and educators by combining grassroots leadership and power with policy and political expertise.
Team Leaders: Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, Alliance for Quality Education, The Children’s Agenda
The New York team is experienced, diverse, and geographically dispersed. It includes advocacy organizations from across the state, as well as family child care and center-based early education providers who are in the field every day serving the children and families in their communities. This team grew out of work that began in 2017 with the creation of the Empire State Campaign for Childcare (ESCCC). They started designing their North Star two years ago, and through their participation and influence on the Governor’s Child Care Availability Task Force, ensured their vision is reflected in the final recommendations.
The New York team plans to implement the recommendations set forth in this comprehensive, ambitious, and practical plan, which aims to equitably expand access to high-quality child care to all New York families that need it, and to provide child care educators with compensation and support reflective of the extraordinary value of their work.
Team Leader: Family Forward Oregon
Ground-level organizing groups are leading the team in Oregon. They represent women, parents, and child care providers who are Black, Asian, Latinx, refugees, immigrant, and low-income communities. The state team consists of six organizations with extensive experience in successful advocacy for legislation that benefits young children and their families. Last year the group collectively won a major competitive grant to build child-care policymaker champions. They have a long history of working together on successful statewide campaigns, including increasing paid family and medical leave, paid sick time, and minimum wage; ending racial profiling; advancing reproductive health equity; and advocating for revenue reform and an equitable state budget.
The work in Oregon will be rooted in transformational organizing principles and focus on involving impacted communities in policy design, advocacy, community organizing, and power-building. The team came together more than a year ago to develop their vision, which includes a targeted universal system in which no family will pay more than 7% of their income, and many will pay nothing. The vision also includes parity in wages to those of K-12 educators, ensuring access to paid leave, health insurance, retirement benefits, educational scholarships, and loan forgiveness. With this “North Star” vision in place, the team is already pivoting to capacity building.
Team Leader: Virginia Promise Partnership
The Virginia coalition, Virginia Promise Partnership, emerged out of the Back to Work Virginia Task Force, a post-pandemic rebuilding team made up of leaders from business, community organizations, philanthropy, and government. The task force announced an ambitious goal of ensuring access to affordable quality child care for all Virginia families by 2030, and the Virginia Promise Partnership was launched to develop a more detailed agenda and roadmap. Member organizations of the partnership, like the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy Virginia (CFFEV), have led successful grassroots campaigns around paid leave (including for home care workers) and Medicaid expansion.
The coalition has a leadership structure that honors community voices and is committed to centering the Child Care NEXT work around the lived experiences of those most impacted by child care policy – ensuring they have ownership and leadership in the advocacy work. They will build on some significant policy and funding wins related to ECE, including the consolidation of ECE into the state education agency and the leveraging of marijuana sales tax to fund pre-k expansion.
Working in their states – and learning together as a cohort – the first five Child Care NEXT states are well positioned to demonstrate to the rest of the nation how strategic, equitable, and system-wide change in child care can transform families, communities, and whole states.
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