My name is Travis Ballie, Ward 7 resident and Acting President of the 1610-1624 26th Place Condominiums Easement Areas Association, Inc. We represent eight small condo associations representing dozens of District residents, including several families with young children or expecting. I am here to testify in support of the Banning Associations from Banning Youth Amendment Act of 2023. Simply put, our babies and youth should be welcome in all our neighborhoods and their parents and caregivers deserve more early learning options in their communities.
My Condo Associations would welcome the opportunity to provide a critical service to our community if one of our neighbors were to step up and open a home based early learning center. Home based early learning centers have several advantages over early learning centers in commercial rental space. Among those benefits, home based centers tend to have smaller class sizes, more one-on-one attention, and can often have a family like environment. Mixed age groups in home care settings can offer socialization between siblings. We know that increased access to child care, especially near where workers actually live, means new and sustained access to workforce participation for single mothers and working parents. This is an incredible benefit to residents of any condo association and larger neighborhood. In addition, the vast majority of home-based early learning owner-providers are women of color, so the BABY Act would lower a barrier to these business entrepreneurs who are ready to provide their service.
In my day job, I work day in and out with parents and caregivers in the District to fight for full funding and implementation of the Birth to Three Act which, ideally by 2028 – will guarantee all DC children under three have access to high-quality early learning and health care opportunities. The BABY Act is a critical complementary legislation to expand more early learning options for our Residents. Without affordable, reliable and high-quality childcare, tens of thousands of parents and caregivers in the District cannot fully enter the workforce. Childcare is already the 2nd largest expense in a family’s budget.
The BABY Act is a critical piece of legislation to make early learning education more affordable for District residents. On this note of affordability, I wanted to share the story of my friend Natika, who can no longer afford her $21,000 a year childcare costs in DC. Natika invested in DC and was a proud Ward 7 property owner. A few years ago, Natika left DC to move to Illinois, where she can rely on family to offset some of her childcare costs. Another neighbor of mine, Heys Cooper, went $25,000 into credit card debt in order to pay for her child care needs.
What my neighbors Natika and Heys are facing is by design. Structural racism is often the root of the disparities facing Black and brown families in the District, especially East of the River.