State Initiative

In Spite of It All: State Budget Wins for Babies in 2020

Oct 15, 2020

Despite the current crisis, and thanks to persistent and knowledgeable advocates, governors and legislators are holding on to and, in some cases, managing to expand funding and programs for the 2021 fiscal year.

This year, more than ever, the importance of public programs that support families of young children has been exposed and elevated. While states across the nation grapple with the financial hardships imposed by the pandemic, advocates face the challenge of ensuring level funding of essential services that families depend on. Yet, despite the current crisis, and thanks to persistent and knowledgeable advocates, governors and legislators are, in fact, holding on to and in some cases managing to expand funding and programs for the 2021 fiscal year. It is important to note that to sustain and continue to grow these vital supports for families and babies, a substantial federal investment is critical and long overdue.

California’s budget approved two CDPH positions and General Fund expenditure authority of $348,000 annually to track and publish data on pregnancy-related deaths and severe maternal morbidity, and also allows expenditure authority from the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund of $10.3 million annually to increase interventions and other activities designed to reduce children’s exposure to lead.

• In Colorado, despite a proposal to reduce funding for Children’s Basic Health Plan, the legislature rejected any cuts and included a +$25M increase to backfill lost federal revenue due to changes made during the latest reauthorization.

• In Georgia, the budget included funding for a new Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) coordinator position at the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), a recommendation from the [Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health Study Committee](http://www.house.ga.gov/Committees/en-US/InfantandToddlerSocialandEmotionalHealth.aspxFunding for 6 months of Postpartum Medicaid was also included and accompanied by HB 1114, which will allow the state to seek a waiver from the federal government to provide Medicaid to this population.

• The Illinois budget package includes a $7 million increase to the Early Intervention program at the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Maryland advocates celebrated a $76.5 million increase or 26% in state funding for early childhood programs for FY21. Additions included funds to improve existing and expand by 6 the Family Support Centers for pregnant families and children birth to age three; increased funding for and expansion of Judy Center Early Learning Hubs, which provide high-quality early childhood education programs and comprehensive support services for children birth through kindergarten and their families; funding for the early childhood workforce and program quality improvements; and increased funding for early intervention services for young children with developmental delays and disabilities, and their families.

Michigan legislators included $26 million to expand access to child care for families by increasing the income eligibility from 130% to 150% of the federal poverty level and added $12.6 million for the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program to ensure women have access to the care they need for a healthy pregnancy.

Vermont’s budget included funding for the annual update of the Federal Poverty Level and $250,000 to fund ongoing maintenance of the IT system and $800,000 to increase the number of child care slots available for infants and toddlers. Additionally, the Legislature responded to strong advocacy in January and reversed the Administration’s plan in FY20 to defund the Special Accommodation Grants program, which helps children with special needs to stay in childcare settings. The Administration and the Legislature then agreed to provide the program with $300,000 in funds for FY21.

The ZERO TO THREE policy center commends the advocates in these and other states who have continued to push for programs and policies that improve the lives of babies and their families.

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