WASHINGTON, DC (March 28, 2023)—The Bowser administration released their budget proposal for fiscal year 2024, and it is a mixed story for investments in early childhood. The good news is that Mayor Bowser responded to Under 3 DC’s request to make child care more affordable to families by proposing expansion of eligibility for child care assistance, but unfortunately, her budget simultaneously makes cuts to other parts of the early childhood education system that provide pivotal assistance.
The expansion of eligibility will benefit families with household income up to $90,000 for a family of four. This expansion uses current child care subsidy funding and could benefit approximately 2,100 families with children ages 0 – 5. Under 3 DC applauds this expansion and will urge the DC Council to keep this priority in the budget.
“We are pleased to see the expansion of child care assistance to an additional 2,100 families with young children in Mayor Bowser’s fiscal year 2024 budget proposal,” stated Kimberly Perry, executive director at DC Action and co-chair of Under 3 DC. “However, we are disappointed to see the cuts to TANF child care subsidy funding and the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund, which is only in the early stages of implementation. We will be asking the DC Council to restore these funds so that these resources are available for their intended use.”
Proposed Cuts that we ask the DC Council to reverse:
- $7,000,000 cut from the TANF child care funding stream, eliminating funding that could support many families that need it most, including those that depend on TANF cash assistance to make ends meet. We propose that instead of making this cut, reinvest the funds in other parts of the early education system.
- The Pay Equity Fund was cut by $5.4 million, due to preliminary results showing there is more funding available than what is needed to fully fund the compensation program. This cut undermines the District’s ability to expand the fund to early learning program directors and other staff who are long overdue for salary adjustments.
- $8,000,000 will be cut from federal funding for the Back 2 Work child care grants, which fund increased reimbursement rates to serve our most vulnerable children. This cut will hurt providers that operate in Wards 7 and 8, and providers that have a majority of subsidized slots.
- This budget also repeals the sports wagering provision, which generates funding for early childhood education.
Under 3 DC understands the economic pressures of this budget cycle, but the education of our youngest learners is at risk. We urge the DC Council to restore all funding streams for early childhood education and continue to build the most equitable early childhood system in the nation.