January 13, 2010 — Gov. Chris Gregoire’s revised budget rightly protects Apple Health for Kids, Maternity Support Services and some other vital programs that are helping Washington families weather this grueling recession. But many critical investments remain in jeopardy.
• Working Connections Child Care gives children the early learning services they need to thrive. This program faces a nearly $50 million cut that would be a dramatic loss of support to parents who need child care to find or keep their jobs. We estimate that between 7,000 and 8,000 families – about one in three seeking child care through Working Connections – would be turned away if this cut is enacted. It would also hurt child care providers, many of which are struggling small businesses.
• Significant cuts remain in effect for services aimed at preventing children from entering foster care. These cuts run counter to the state’s commitment to improve outcomes for kids and meet higher performance standards for our child welfare system. The same is true with cuts that would eliminate education advocates who help foster kids succeed in school. Cutting these services would also undermine the state’s commitment to reducing disparities face by children of color in foster care.
• The Responsible Living Skills Program serves adolescents who can’t live at home but don’t yet need to be placed with a foster family. It’s a last stop for many kids before they “age out” of the system, and it faces a 44 percent cut that likely will push more teens onto the street, or bouncing, once again, from home to home.
We call on our state’s lawmakers to maintain their commitment to protecting families by raising significant sources of new revenue that will sustain crucial programs and keep Washington on track to economic recovery.
“Gov. Gregoire has taken a step in the right direction by protecting some programs that have a proven track record of providing health care, nutritious meals, child care and early learning opportunities for children,” said Jon Gould, Deputy Director of the Children’s Alliance. “Closing tax loopholes is a sensible start to raising the money it will take to create long-term and sustainable sources of revenue. But it’s not enough. Lawmakers must go one step further.
“Raising revenue for kids is the right thing to do – and now is the right time to do it.
“Families are working hard to overcome the challenges this lingering recession has forced them to confront. If we falter in our commitment to helping them now when they need us most, our state’s economic recovery would suffer a major setback.”
Jon Gould, deputy director, (206) 324-0340 x19, cell: (206) 683-2674
Liz Gillespie, communications manager, (206) 324-0340 x18, cell: (206) 289-0593
The Children’s Alliance is a statewide public policy advocacy organization that works at the state and federal level to ensure that all children have what they need to thrive. Current campaigns focus on health care, ending childhood hunger, early learning, and foster care. Our membership includes 125 organizations and more than 10,000 individuals statewide who are members of our Children’s Action Network. To learn more about the Children’s Alliance, go to www.childrensalliance.org. To sign up for our media list, e-mail Liz Gillespie at firstname.lastname@example.org.