The Alliance's weekly newsletter includes policy updates, legislative news, and events related to the Alliance's Legislative Agenda. Stay informed by checking the Alliance's Facebook page. To share early childhood advocacy news with the Alliance to be included in future updates, email Sarah Galbraith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legislature Moving Towards Adjournment
The Legislature is working hard to wrap up the 2019 legislative session, with adjournment coming as soon as this weekend. Details can change quickly this time of year, but here are updates on some of the issues on the Alliance’s 2019 Legislative Agenda. Look for a full report on all the issues about a week after the session wraps up.
Reach Up Funding
While the House budget did not include additional funding for Reach Up, the Senate budget proposes to spend $1.9 million in FY20 to update the benefit rates from 2004 to 2008 figures. House and Senate negotiators are working to develop a compromise FY20 budget to send to the Governor for his signature, and it’s not clear how much, if any, of this Reach Up funding increase will be included in that negotiated budget. Discussions also continue about proposals to reduce the total number of Reach Up case managers, reducing staff at Parent Child Centers and/or Agency of Human Services regional offices.
Family & Medical Leave Insurance
The Senate committees have completed their work on H. 107, the family and medical leave insurance bill, and it will be considered by the full Senate this week. Last week, the Senate Committee on Economic Development made a series of unfavorable amendments to the bill, including removing the ability to take time to recover from one's own illness or injury and requiring that bonding leave be shared among couples. Advocates continue to emphasize that adequate time for each parent to bond with a new child as well as time to care for a family member and to recover from an illness or injury is essential to the program. The FaMLI Coalition is urging calls to all Senators in support of a strong bill.
Farm to School and Early Childhood
The Senate agreed with the House in providing $231,000 for Farm to School (FTS) grants in their FY20 budget. Although this amount is level funding from FY19, it is $50,000 higher than the Governor’s Recommended FY20 budget. The Senate added an additional $75,000 to their budget for school nutrition reimbursements and House members are considering whether these funds should be moved to the FTS grant program, where they can leverage local purchasing and participation by schools and early childhood programs. H.79, a bill clarifying eligibility for Farm to School grant assistance, has passed the House and Senate and is on its way to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.
Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP) and Workforce Investments
H. 531 was folded into the Senate FY20 budget after the Senate Health and Welfare Committee made modest changes to the bill, slightly reducing the House’s plan for additional funding to update CCFAP rates, as well as making changes to the workforce investments. The final details of the child care/workforce package are being negotiated as part of the House/Senate Conference Committee on the FY20 budget.
The Alliance is tracking developments on this issue, which is not on our ’19 Legislative Agenda but impacts the entire early childhood community. House and Senate members are currently negotiating to resolve the different versions of S.40, a bill which mandates enhanced testing in schools and by child care providers for lead in water outlets, and provides funding to replace fixtures where high lead levels are found. Issues being discussed include the level of lead where action must be taken, how long the testing program should take, how much money will be available for remediation, and how that money should be allocated to schools and child care providers.
The Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance is a statewide coalition formed in 2000 of early childhood professionals, parents, organizations, businesses, and strategic partners committed to improving public policies that impact young children between birth and age eight in the areas of health, safety, food security, economic security, and early care and education.
The Alliance crafts an annual Legislative Agenda in partnership with early childhood organizations, provides year-round advocacy support, and facilitates meaningful interactions with policymakers at key times during the decision making process.