Press ReleaseSTATEMENT: Under 3 DC FY23 Health Budget Asks Letter to Councilmember Vincent Gray

April 19, 2022

Dear Councilmember Gray,

We, the undersigned members of the Under 3 DC coalition, urge you to deepen public investments in the District’s infant and toddler family health programs in the upcoming FY 2023 budget. As you are well aware, a robust system of early childhood family health support is vital for the District’s health and well being, and COVID-19 continues to pose challenges in the lives of children and families across our city. Unfortunately, the mayor’s proposed budget does not include any increases in public investments to these programs. This represents a significant shortcoming in our city’s ability to address longstanding health disparities facing Black and brown residents. 

As a result, thousands of infants and toddlers are at risk of missing out on the dynamic programs provided through the Birth-to-Three for All DC law. These include the integrated pediatric primary care services HealthySteps provides; the behavioral and social-emotional services Healthy Futures offers to early learning communities and the trusted, long-term relationships that home visitors provide to families to coach them towards self-sufficiency, connect them to DC’s early childhood system of services, and guide them to use positive parenting practices, especially during a crisis.  We are grateful for your committee’s allocation of local funds throughout the pandemic and the steps you have taken to help the community rebuild and keep its doors open. 

DC families need a FY 2023 budget that demonstrates DC’s leadership and commitment to the health and wellness of our infants and toddlers, and their families.

We urge you to develop the budget the District needs by making the following choices: 

Allocate at least $300,000 to expand the District’s HealthySteps program, which provides developmental support for infants and toddlers in pediatric primary care settings

We strongly support the expansion of the HealthySteps program to reach more District families in need of parent- and child-focused health support services. The funds allocated in DC Health’s FY 2022 budget are sufficient to expand the HealthySteps program to at least one additional site. We applaud DC Health’s efforts to reach communities where these resources are limited. Increasing public investments in the District’s HealthySteps program by at least $300,000 in the FY 2023 budget will fund an additional HealthySteps site and further the Birth-to-Three for All DC expansion of the family health support program, effectively deepening our investments in communities where we know enhanced pediatric primary care services are needed the most. 

Allocate at least $700,000 to Healthy Futures to expand behavioral health supports in child care  settings 

Increasing funding for the Healthy Futures program by at least $700,000 will enable the Department of Behavioral Health to make much-needed updates to the program’s infrastructure, hire personnel, and increase the program’s capacity to expand from 25 to 35 additional child development facilities next fiscal year. These steps will significantly advance our efforts to reach all subsidy-participating child care development programs in the District. The funds could be used to hire three to five new consultants and more supervisors, with additional funds to cover overhead costs associated with the additional professionals and implementation of the program. 

Increase funding for CFSA and DC Health home visiting programs to reflect their important work, and make funds recurring

We strongly support a 15% increase to existing home visiting grants at CFSA and DC Health–totaling about $439,650 – to adjust for inflation and enable programs to adapt to the increased demands on their workforce and resources to support families during this pandemic. Home visiting programs have used extra time, resources, and creativity to meet the heightened needs of families during this public health emergency without any funding increases. Increasing funding amounts for the home visiting programs – many of which have received flat funding since 2019 or earlier – is critical to the well-being of the expectant parents and families with young children that they serve in the District. 

During a year in which District families have continuously adapted to unforeseen challenges, Under 3 DC wants to emphasize that an outpouring of community voices participated in the Council’s budget oversight hearings, asking for these much-needed investments. By including this $1.4 million to early childhood family health support programs in the FY 2023 budget, DC infants and toddlers can grow up in a society that supports and empowers them. We thank you for your leadership in strengthening early childhood in the District and look forward to continuing to work in partnership with you and all 13 members of the Council to ensure every child receives a strong start in life.

 

Sincerely,

 

Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc. 

Bright Beginnings, Inc

CentroNía

Children’s Law Center

Children’s National Hospital

Community Educational Research Group

Community of Hope

DC Action

DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

DC Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics

DC Early Learning Collaborative (DCELC)

DC Family Child Care Association

DC Fiscal Policy Institute

DC for Democracy

DC Head Start Association 

DC Hunger Solutions 

DC Jobs with Justice

Directors Exchange

District of Columbia Association for the Education of Young Children (DCAEYC)  

Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN) 

Easterseals DC MD VA

Educare DC 

EmpowerED 

Greater DC Diaper Bank

Happy Faces ELA 

Jews United for Justice

Jubilee Housing

Kiddie University

Low Income Investment Fund

Many Languages One Voice (MLOV)

Martha’s Table

Mary’s Center

Mothers Outreach Network

MomsRising/MamásConPoder

Multicultural Spanish Speaking Providers Association (MSSPA)

National Children’s Center

PAVE (Parents Amplifying Voices in Education) 

Point of Care Childcare

SPACEs in Action

United Planning Organization

Washington Area Women’s Foundation

Vanessa Petion

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