Early Childhood Legislative Update
This session was defined by a $1.8 billion deficit in the state budget and the threat of devastating budget cuts. Thank you for calling, e-mailing, writing, and meeting with legislators. Thank you for engaging your local partners. Thank you for inviting legislators into early childhood classrooms in your community. Our collective advocacy ensured some good things happened for children this session, and that the bad things were minimized.
The legislature adjourned on Friday, and here is a summary of where we stand:
The Early Childhood Budget (HB 5516)
- Many early childhood programs were funded at ‘current service level’ (no cuts), including Healthy Families Oregon, Relief Nurseries, Early Head Start, Oregon Head Start PreKindergarten, and Preschool Promise.
- Some new investments were made in early childhood, including a $6 million increase in funding for Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education and a $2 million capital investment in the Family Nurturing Center (a Family Relief Nursery in Medford) to tear down drug houses and build new housing and a family center. Yay!
- Some early childhood investments face cuts. While not as bad as initially proposed, we are disappointed to be heading in the wrong direction on these important pieces of the system. These include:
- 11% cut to Early Learning Hubs
- 4% cut to Kindergarten Partnership & Innovation Fund
- Cut to Employment Related Day Care (Child Care Subsidy). No families will be removed from the program, but this will limit the number of new families who can sign up.
- Proposed new investments were not made, including needed investments in salaries for Oregon Head Start PreKindergarten staff and expanded professional learning for the early childhood workforce.
All of the details are in this document, and pages 28 and 35 are the most relevant to our work.
Early Childhood Policy Bills
Many of the policy issues we have been tracking moved through the legislative process smoothly. One notable exception was a proposal to invest in Culturally-Specific Early Learning Services. Bills that moved were mostly tweaks to existing statute and not significant changes to the system. Links to the actual bills are below. To see the final language, select the “enrolled” version under the “text” drop down menu.
- Legislation to refine the Relief Nursery statute (SB 314) was passed through both chambers just a day before the final day of session and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
- Legislation to refine the child care background check statute (HB 2259) passed through both chambers last week and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
- Legislation to clarify what information about child care providers who receive subsidy payments may be shared publicly and with other agencies (HB 2260) passed through both chambers last week and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
- Legislation to modify the lead teacher requirement in Preschool Promise (HB 2013) became law on June 22 (ORS chapter 280).
- Legislation to require annual reporting on the Early Learning Hub evaluation (HB 2956) became law on June 28 (ORS chapter 399).
- Legislation requiring hubs to convene Preschool providers (HB 3106) became law on June 21 and takes effect January 1, 2018 (ORS Chapter 140).
- Legislation to support the early childhood workforce (SB 182) passed both chambers last week and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Unfortunately, the $7.5 million requested was not allocated, so there is not state funding to implement the law.
- Culturally Specific Early Learning Services (HB 3069-1) did not become law this session. Stay tuned for future legislative sessions!
Other investments & legislation relating to young children
Cover All Kids (SB 558), legislation to provide public health insurance for children without documentation of legal residency, passed both chambers last week and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. A related budget bill also allocated the $38 million in needed funding to implement the law staring January 1st, 2018. Yay!
- Child Welfare received a $30 million investment above current service level to increase foster parent reimbursement rates, behavioral rehabilitation service provider rates, professional development funds, and more.
- The Woman, Infants, and Child program that provides healthy foods to pregnant and nursing women, infants, and toddlers received a $1 million increased state investment.
- Legislation to allow local communities to create Children’s Districts for the purpose of passing local levies to fund children’s services (SB 123) did not move out of its final committee.