On May 18, the Alaska legislature concluded its 2022 regular session. Thank you to all the legislators, legislative staff, and early childhood advocates who supported early childhood education this year. The session saw an increased awareness of child care as a critical policy issue for Alaska. This awareness includes a recognition that child care workers are essential and that access to high-quality, affordable child care is necessary for families – and businesses — to work.
Legislative Wins for Early Childhood Education and Child Care
This year there were three legislative wins that will impact early childhood education.
New funding to support quality child care
The state Capital Budget included $1 million for the State of Alaska Child Care Program Office. This money will support activities related to quality and access that are part of Alaska’s Child Care Development Plan.
Investment in Pre-K expansion
Pre-K is one component of a strong mixed-delivery child care system. Expanding Pre-K helps make access to quality care affordable for more families. Additional funding of up to $3 million per year for pre-kindergarten programs, provided in the form of grants for low-performing districts, was included in the Alaska Reads Act. In addition, Pre-K funding increased by $2.5 million as part of the base student allocation (BSA) increase.
Raised awareness of child care issues
thread endorsed HB149, a bill to increase the voice of early educators and create a child care trust fund, which passed in the House. While this bill didn’t receive a committee hearing in the Senate, it did encourage increased conversation about the need for sustainable funding to support Alaska’s early educators and the overall system. Additionally, early childhood educators made their voices heard on the issue.
thread was honored to partner with many early childhood advocates on the legislative activities that helped support these wins. During the legislative session, thread staff and board members actively supported the legislative process by responding to information requests, keeping stakeholders updated, and publicly sharing the challenges and opportunities within the child care sector. Take a moment to celebrate the wins from this legislative session for young children and families!
Important Work Ahead
This year’s legislative wins lay the groundwork for the important work ahead. Additional financial support and policy improvements are needed to help meet the current child care needs of families and businesses and to support continued pandemic recovery in the child care sector.
You can help keep the momentum going by following what is happening in child care policy at the federal level and by keeping child care issues a priority during the upcoming election. We need our elected officials to understand that child care is essential to Alaska’s children, families, communities, and economy and be willing to pursue child care policy solutions.
Here are some action steps you can take:
- Remember to “Vote 4 Kids!” this election season! Follow thread’s monthly blog, and check out resources to engage your candidates in conversations about child care issues.
- Join thread’s Action Center to stay up-to-date on current issues related to state and federal child care policy.
- Educate yourself about the issues that directly impact families, children, and the economy. Learn more about thread’s policy recommendations here and the 2022 policy fact sheet here.