|Special Issue: Early Childhood Policy Update|
Proposed Legislation Would Benefit Rhode Island's Youngest Children
Rhode Island KIDS COUNT is currently tracking several important bills introduced during the 2012 Legislative Session that, if passed, will expand access to early learning programs for Rhode Island's children.
House Bills 7127 and 7128 would require public school districts to offer universal access to full-day kindergarten. Currently, 19 out of 35 school districts in Rhode Island offer universal access to full-day kindergarten and 65% of children enrolled in public school kindergarten in Rhode Island are in a full-day classroom. Nationally, 74% of children are enrolled in full-day kindergarten.
Child Care Assistance Program
House Bill 7105 and Senate Bill 2284 would enable low-income, working families already receiving child care assistance to remain eligible for a child care subsidy as long as their income does not exceed 225% of the federal poverty level ($42,953 for a family of three) and the child care is necessary to maintain employment. This bill would stabilize child care for families whose income fluctuates between 180% and 225% of the federal poverty level.
House Bill 7375 and Senate Bill 2243 would enable low-income, working families already receiving child care assistance and working at least 20 hours per week to access additional hours of care so parents could participate in education or training.
Low-income, working families have great difficulty accessing quality, affordable child care without a subsidy. According to the 2011 statewide market rate survey conducted by the University of Rhode Island, the average cost of full-time child care in a center is $11,651 per year for an infant and $9,491 per year for a preschooler.
Governor's Proposed FY2013 Budget and Early Learning
Governor Lincoln Chafee's FY2013 Budget includes a few items that will impact Rhode Island's young children and their families.
The proposed budget:
- Maintains $1 million in state-directed funding for Head Start slots for eligible children.
- Fully funds the early learning categorical program that was adopted as part of the school funding formula. The FY2013 funding would support 8 State Pre-K classrooms.
- Increases co-pay for child care for working families with incomes over 100% FPL by 1%. This change would result in a $275,000 reduction in general revenue funds.