As 2023 legislative sessions are underway, advocates have been preparing to ensure that legislators understand the strong opportunity to equitably support young children, their families, and communities through policy and budgetary investments. State advocates work tirelessly alongside community partners to strategize opportunities to advance state policy.
Before the start of 2023 state legislative sessions, Alliance state allies shared their policy priorities for improving outcomes for young children. Take a look at where they plan to focus their efforts this year.
- 20 state advocacy organizations are prioritizing family economic security issues such as tax credits, paid family leave, and improving access to food and cash assistance programs
- 44 are prioritizing issues relating to early care and education
- 27 are advocating on issues related to infant and child health, including early intervention, and 24 are specifically focusing on maternal health
Family Economic Security
State advocacy priorities range from improving access to food and cash assistance programs to state tax credits that support families with young children.
- Eliminating sales taxes: Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network is currently working on HB 855 which end taxes on diapers, an essential good for families with young children. Georgia advocates at GEEARS are also prioritizing the elimination of sales tax on diapers.
- Child tax credits: Zero to Five Montana has been working hard to support HB 268, which would establish a $1,200 child tax credit for families with young children. The tax credit would support over 50,000 Montana families.
- Food insecurity: Common Good Iowa and Kansas Action for Children are tackling food insecurity through legislation that increases access and invests additional funding to their states SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) program.
- Paid Family Leave: California, Georgia, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, and West Virginia continue to prioritize paid family leave policies through state legislation.
Early Care and Education
State advocates are thinking boldly about policies and investments that will support the childcare workforce and improve access to care.
- In 2022, Vermont’s Let’s Grow Kids engaged in a state financing study with the RAND corporation. The study produced data to support a significant increase in financing the child care system. Advocates are working to raise support and awareness for SB.56, which will provide pay parity for the child care workforce with the K-12 workforce.
- States often learn from policy successes from other states. New York advocates at the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy strategized with Under 3 DC to campaign for a “Quality Child Care Workforce Compensation Program” that will offer wage supplements for the child care workforce.
- North Carolina advocates at NC Child are advocating to improve the child care subsidy rate structure to close the services gap.
- Rhode Island Kids Count is advocating to leverage state and federal funding to pass the RI Child Care is Essential Act, which will support families in paying for child care and for programs to meet or exceed federal standards.
Maternal Health and Child Health
Maintaining postpartum health care coverage is on the policy agenda of many state advocacy organizations and supporting birthing mothers.
- Utah state advocates at the United Way of Salt Lake are working to increase Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women to 200% FPL (Federal Poverty Level) and expanding coverage from 60 days to one-year postpartum.
- Groundwork Ohio advocates hope to provide a pathway through Medicaid expansion to support doula care.
- Advocates for Children of New Jersey are working to provide equitable access to prenatal and postnatal care and resources that support a healthy pregnancy, birth, and start in life.
In child health policy, Kids Win Missouri is advocating for continuous coverage for children to ensure there is no gap in coverage after the end of the public health emergency. Texans Care for Children advocates are prioritizing child health bills that have reached bipartisan support such as improving enrollment for eligible children in the CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) program and increasing eligibility to other health and early intervention services. Similarly, The Children’s Movement of Florida is advocating to expand KidCare eligibility and outreach efforts, which will provide affordable coverage and adequate preventative care for children.
Eighteen states are prioritizing early intervention proposals during legislative session. As an example, The Maine Children’s Alliance is asking lawmakers to improve Maine’s narrow definition for eligibility, and to expand efforts to identify infants and toddlers with developmental delays.
More information on state-specific policy efforts can be found on these state policy landscape pages.
What Are the Governors Saying?
Issues related to the birth to eight system are a strong priority for governors this year. A few national partners of the Alliance compiled information based on the state-of-state addresses of Governors.
Center for American Progress: Governors Demonstrate Bipartisan Support for Child Care and Early Education
Children’s Funding Project: 2023 State Legislative Session Preview: Programs for Kids Get a Boost from State Leaders
Child Care Aware of America: All Eyes on States 2023
First Five Years Fund: Analysis: Majority of Governors Highlight Child Care as Key to Workforce Growth