Early childhood researchers say a child’s first three years will shape their lives. Our District’s early educators and parents agree and we are now organizing to give our city’s youngest residents the best possible start. We’re part of a growing community of health professionals, neighborhood-based organizations, and nonprofit advocacy groups known as Under 3 DC. Together, we are working as a coalition to ensure local elected officials fund the Birth-to-Three For All DC law.
The coronavirus pandemic shook the District to its core in 2020, but Under 3 DC persisted. The community came together and fought to preserve funding for critical services for children and families. Protecting funding for health and the child care programs was the most important victory. Any loss of child care and any cuts to successful health programs puts the well-being of the District’s youngest children at risk.
The District’s economy won’t recover if we don’t close the gaps in access, affordability, and quality of child care. We believe that making child care more affordable for everyone is one way to solve this problem. This position calls on policymakers to increase the Child Care Subsidy it pays child care centers and homes to cover the cost of educating lower-income children, including raising pay for early educators.
The health and education programs that serve young children and families are hard to navigate and hard to find. Many families are unaware of their existence. Under 3 DC wants to fix this by advocating for proper funding. Healthy Futures, Healthy Steps, Help Me Grow, and the Lactation programs are evidence-based, early childhood programs that support young children’s social and emotional development and their caregivers–parents and early educators.