It’s the worst we’ve seen.
That’s our assessment of new cuts to state services. The across-the-board budget reductions are more severe than anything we’ve experienced recently. They’re also being made in an extremely challenging context.
The budget that was finalized this spring, during the last legislative session, did not anticipate the persistently slow economy. And, rather than our elected representatives deliberating in public over cuts, these decisions are being made by the Governor in consultation with agency secretaries and assistant secretaries. They are decisions as momentous as any made during the last legislative session, only without legislators convening to hear and represent their constituents’ concerns.
The federal government has finally released the guidelines states need to apply for their slice of $1.5 billion in new grant funding for home visiting programs, which connect new and expectant parents with trained nursing and early learning professionals.
The new guidelines issued late last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will allow Washington to apply for up to $1.3 million this year.
The first wave of these grants, part of federal health care reform that became law in March, will go to states this summer.
Over the next few weeks and months, we and our allies on the Washington Home Visiting Coalition will be working with state agencies and stakeholders on a plan for how Washington will use these home visiting funds.
President Barack Obama wants to put real money behind his Plan for Early Education for All Americans. His proposed budget for federal fiscal year 2014 opts for smart new investments in a comprehensive birth-to-5 education plan.
His multi-pronged strategy will expand access to and improve the quality of early childhood education by:
A week after the state Senate, the state House of Representatives passed its budget on Friday, April 5. Negotiations between budget leaders in the House, the Senate and the Governor’s office have begun.
What are the key ingredients of a good state budget for kids?
Hungry children gained the unprecedented support of a majority of the State Senate this week. As the News Tribune's Politics blog reported on Tuesday, 25 of 49 Senators co-signed a letter asking budget leaders to fully fund State Food Assistance.
As the Senators wrote:
The state legislature has missed an opportunity to get more kids and families the preventive oral health care they need.
The dental access legislation, House Bill 1516 and Senate Bill 5433 did not move forward out of their policy committees, despite a large and diverse statewide coalition of health care advocates and the leadership of Rep. Eileen Cody (D-34th) and Sen. David Frockt (D-46th). The Washington State Dental Association is ignoring the input of its own member dentists and is blocking an innovative and evidence-based solution to our state’s dental access crisis.
A licensed dental practitioner remains a viable part of the solution – for the oral health of Washington’s underserved communities and as a workforce opportunity for dedicated dental professionals.
Dental practitioners are already serving tens of thousands of patients in other states. Watch this short video to learn more:
State lawmakers are talking a lot about how to fulfill our Constitutional promise of educational opportunity to Washington’s children. Many of them recognize that we get the greatest return on our educational investment when we fill classrooms with children who are ready to learn.
Brains are like buildings; they rest on the foundation laid down by a child’s earliest experiences. That’s why sound nutrition, healthy mothers, stable living situations and primary care are all so essential. And also why early learning is so important.
So it’s been a great achievement for the Children’s Alliance and our friends to push a new bill through its chamber of origin and on to the Senate, where it will be heard in committee this Friday.
Over the past seven days we have been privileged to take part in some prominent events that highlight the needs of hungry children.
Leaders from the faith community, charitable organizations and community groups have joined us in calling on state leaders to fight childhood hunger by restoring State Food Assistance.
Last Tuesday, we released a community letter asking legislators to “restore the integrity of our food security system” by fairly funding the program, which was cut in half last summer. The cut took food off the tables of nearly 14,000 children.
Last Tuesday, legislators on the House Health Care & Wellness Committee heard voices from across the state speak to a proven solution to the crisis in dental care:
“Alone, terrified, and in excruciating pain, my brother passed away. He was only 23 years old.” Jaydra Cope, (Spokane), whose brother Dalton died in 2006 due to complications of a dental abscess.
This week’s celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. coincides with the second week of the state legislative session. That’s an apt coincidence.
Because the question legislators are facing – how to make sure that every child has the opportunity of an education – is one that Dr. King would have deemed worthy of considerable thought.