Rhode Island KIDS COUNT - News, Research and Policy Information
June 27, 2012
Special Issue: Early Childhood Policy Update
RI State House

The General Assembly wrapped up its 2012 Legislative Session earlier this month. There were several important legislative and budget victories for Rhode Island's youngest children and their families, but more work is needed to expand children's access to high-quality early learning programs. 

Full-Day Kindergarten

The General Assembly passed the Full-Day Kindergarten Accessibility Act which will provide one-time, start-up funding to school districts transitioning from offering half-day kindergarten to providing universal access to full-day kindergarten beginning with the 2013-2014 school year. There are currently 19 school districts that offer universal full-day kindergarten and 16 districts that do not. Sixty-four percent of children enrolled in public school kindergarten in Rhode Island participated in full-day programs during the 2011-2012 school year. Data from 2009 indicate that 74% of the nation's kindergarteners were enrolled in full-day programs.

FY2013 Budget and Early Learning 

Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the State FY2013 Budget into law on June 15, 2012.

The budget:

  • Provides $1.45 million for the State Pre-K program that was included as a categorical program within the education funding formula. This funding will support eight State Pre-K classrooms serving 144 children for the 2012-2013 school year.
  • Maintains the existing co-payment structure for the Child Care Assistance Program. A proposal to increase child care co-payments was withdrawn by the Governor. 
  • Maintains $1 million in state-directed funding for Head Start.
To learn more about other budget items affecting children and families, read our complete FY2013 Budget Analysis
Child Care Assistance Program
The state FY2013 budget maintains the current eligibility requirements for subsidized child care for families who earn at or below 180% of the FPL ($34,362 for a family of three in 2012). Two bills designed to improve access to the child care subsidy program were submitted and received hearings but did not make it out of committee.

One bill would have helped to address the "cliff effect" problem by allowing currently eligible families to continue participating in the child care subsidy program as family income increased up to 225% of the FPL. Families who earn between 180% and 225% of FPL continue to need assistance with the cost of licensed child care. This bill would have provided continued care for children who currently are removed from the child care program when their parents' income exceeds the eligibility threshold. 

The other bill would have allowed currently eligible, low-income working families to access additional hours of subsidized child care in order to participate in job training or education programs. 
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In This Issue
starSpecial Issue: Early Childhood Policy Update
starFull-Day Kindergarten
starFY2013 Budget and Early Learning
starChild Care Assistance Program
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Rhode Island KIDS COUNT works to improve the health, education, safety, economic security and development of Rhode Island's children.