Joining Voices for Vulnerable Children and Families: Going National

May 12, 2017 
By: Jennifer Iverson, Executive Director

The General Assembly session has ended in our state, but our work is not over as advocates! There are so many changes happening in Maryland, with more opportunities to come to shape that work. Plus, we have an important role to play at the national level. Here’s a quick round-up of the federal action that matters to child care:

Federal budget: FY 2017 finally complete and FY 2018 action underway
After much delay and several extensions, Congress completed the work on the Fiscal Year 2017 federal budget in time for their May 5th deadline. The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) got an increase of $95 million – which is even more than the Appropriations Committees had approved last summer. This FY2017 funding level for child care is big news, and the result of lots of committed advocacy. But the funding level is not enough and we can help continue to press for FY2018 investments. The Center for Law and Social Policy reports that without an increase of $1.4 billion for CCDBG, 217,000 children nationwide (with 2,936 children in Maryland!) are at risk of losing access to child care subsidy.

Each year the budget process kicks off with a proposal from the Administration. The Administration released just a portion of the FY2018 budget proposal in March, and the rest is expected soon. The proposal indicates Department of Health and Human Services funding for “the highest priorities such as…early care and education” but does not name programs or initiatives. The proposal calls for significant cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services, so finding investments in this context will be a big challenge. The proposal calls for cuts or elimination of programs that support the most vulnerable children and families – and may also impact child care providers themselves. Thanks to the National Association for Family Child Care and the National Association for the Education of Young Children for these handy summaries of the federal budget and the decisions that matter to the early care and education community.

Upcoming action: On May 18, let’s make the phones ring in the U.S. Senate! Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen need to hear from us about making child care investments a priority, and the Resource Center is joining with national partners to make it easy for you to make those phone calls. Watch for the action alert next week!

Affordable Care Act, Repeal and Replace
Debates rage on about the health care, and these decisions have major implications for child and family well-being in Prince George’s County. Last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act or portions of it. Their version would be devastating to local families, but this debate isn’t over yet. Action is beginning in the Senate but it is not yet clear how Senators will proceed with this round of effort.

A tax strategy to support child care
In April, the Administration released tax cut and tax reform policy proposal. The proposal includes expanding the value of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (DCTC), and the Administration is considering making it a refundable tax credit. These are good things, but we also know that families struggle with paying for child care throughout the year, not just at tax time when a benefit would be received. And, the tax approach does not address quality, compensation, or building the supply of care. Thank you to the National Women’s Law Center for these resources breaking down this complicated issue.

Thank you
Today is Provider Appreciation Day, celebrated nationwide. We hope you are all celebrating the important role you play today! As advocates you’re also making a difference every day. Sign up to receive news and action alerts from the Resource Center so that we can all join voices together for this field!