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thread Legislative Connection: Know the Issues

February 28, 2020

High quality early childhood education programs benefit children, families and our economy. Having a high quality early education helps children to succeed in school and life.These programs also help working families participate in the workforce and avoid lost earnings and benefits.

In 2019, the importance of supporting early childhood gained national momentum as more states moved towards policies and funding to expand high quality child care and preschool options for families.

For Alaska, the conversation around access to affordable, high quality early childhood education was elevated last year as we examined our priorities and values during the state budget process. thread was happy to see the final FY20 budget include support for continued early childhood programs and services.

Stay Up-to-Date!

As the new Legislative year begins to unfold, thread will be tracking legislative priorities related to early childhood education on a national, state and local level.thread is hopeful the growing awareness of and support for early childhood education will result in much needed investment and policy change to benefit our families and youngest children.

  • UPDATE: Watch Early Childhood Education Lunch & Learn, recorded on Feb. 27 at the Alaska State Legislature, with Stephanie Berglund, thread; Tamar Ben-Yosef, All Alaska Pediatric Partnership; Abbe Hensley, Best Beginnings; and Kristin Ramstad, Child Care Development, RurAL CAP. Sponsored by Rep. Rasmussen & Rep. Tuck

Local Issues

  • Proposed Alcohol Tax to Expand Early Childhood Education
    The Municipality of Anchorage Assembly voted to send a 5% alcohol tax to the April 7 election ballot. If approved by voters, the estimated taxes raised would fund programs including directed resources to expand early childhood education.
  • Juneau Child Care Initiative: Hiring, Educating, and Retaining Teaching Staff (HEARTS)
    The City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) Assembly increased funding this year for the highly effective HEARTS education awards for child care teachers. The awards are proven to increase recruitment and retention and increase qualifications. The CBJ Assembly also funded a child care loan start up fund, and approved a plan for child care capacity and quality incentives. The proposal is part of the budget process this year, anticipated to start in July 2021.

State Budget & New Legislation

  • Proposed Alaska State Budget FY21
    In December 2019, Governor Dunleavy announced the proposed FY21 State budget. As proposed, the budget provides flat funding (no increases or cuts) for early childhood education programs or services. thread is encouraged funding for early childhood education remains intact under the current proposal.
  • Pre-Elementary Program Expansion (SB6)
    Filed last year, SB6 continues into the new Legislative session with alignment with the Alaska Reads Act. SB6 expands PreElementary programming (PreK) to school districts each year for the next 10 years. Sponsored by Senator Begich.
  • Alaska Reads Act (SB151)
    In January 2020, Governor Dunleavy together with Alaska lawmakers announced a bipartisan bill that will create a comprehensive statewide K-3 reading policy, with the goal of improving reading outcomes. This bill also expands access to PreK for 4 and 5 year olds. Sponsored by Governor Dunleavy and Senator Begich.
  • Education Tax Credit-Employer Child Care Cost (HB188)
    Rep. Zach Fields is proposing legislation that would expand the Alaska Education Tax Credit to include contributions employers make towards child care and child care facilities.

National Issues

  • Ask the Senate to Increase CCDBG Funding
    Contact your Senators today to ask them to support an increase in Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding, providing access to affordable and quality child care across the county. thread will continue to monitor U.S Congressional conversations and decisions related to this fund.

Stay Informed

Staying informed and engaged in these issues has never been easier. Follow these easy steps to begin:

  • Sign up for thread’s Action Center. You will receive email alerts and news keeping you up to date on what early childhood education policy is moving and how you can take action.
  • Contact your Legislator and tell them what’s important to you and why. They work for you! Find out who represents you! Scroll to the bottom and enter you r address in the WHO REPRESENTS ME box.
  • Visit thread’s advocacy site to learn more.