State Initiative

Bright Spots in States

As states across the nation make difficult decisions about how to move forward, the outlook is grim. Without the federal aid mentioned above, the hits to state budgets will be severe and long lasting.

Despite this harsh reality, some states are persevering in their commitment to young children and families in certain sectors.

• In spite of substantial cuts across the FY2021 budget, Georgia included funding for a new Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health coordinator position at the Department of Early Care and Learning, the result of a recommendation from the Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health Study Committee. It also included much needed funding for six months of postpartum Medicaid support. Both of these wins are a direct result of the hard work of the advocates led by Think Babies™ state partner, GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students.

• The Iowa Department of Human Services recently announced a change in the definition of “infant/toddler” for the purposes of subsidy payments. Children up to age 3 (instead of age 2) will now be included in the child care assistance infant group, allowing early learning providers to receive a higher reimbursement rate for an additional year. Additionally, the Future Ready Iowa Act, signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds, creates an Iowa Child Care Challenge Fund to provide grants to businesses and nonprofits to build, renovate, or repurpose spaces for child care facilities.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed HB:251 into law in June. The law extends and strengthens the Early Childhood Care and Education Commission, adding essential partners and expanding the state’s cross sector approach to early childhood supports.

Oklahoma voters recently approved a measure that will expand Medicaid to cover more working adults with low incomes, an essential support for the parents of young children. Learn more in ZERO TO THREE’s new brief.

• The Early Learning Division of the Oregon Department of Education has been approved to release $139.5 million in new funding through the Early Learning Account of the Student Success Act (SSA). While this was less than what was initially allocated, many programs will benefit from this funding. Some of the programs who have received this crucial boost include: Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education, Early Head Start, Early Childhood Equity Fund, Relief Nurseries, and Healthy Families Oregon.

ZERO TO THREE commends these states and the advocates who continue to work so hard during this time to ensure that babies and families are held at the forefront of reopening and rebuilding.

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