February 22, 2016
Early Childhood Highlights in the Governor's Budget

Governor Gina Raimondo's FY17 recommended budget includes the following proposals that will impact young children and their families. Young children come from more diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and are more likely to live in poverty than any other age group. The proposed budget:

Learning & Development
  • Includes $1.2 million increase to the State Pre-K program through the funding formula, which, when combined with federal Preschool Expansion Grant funding, will enable Rhode Island to expand the state Pre-K program to serve over 950 children in 2016-2017.
  • Increases funding for the Child Care Assistance Program by $11.3 million ($7.9 million in state funds and $3.4 million in federal funds). New federal Child Care and Development Block Grant regulations require that the state allocate more funding to improve the quality and stability of child care for low-income working families. Expanded funding includes an increase of $1.1 million for Early Learning Challenge programs to support program quality improvement. The DHS budget projects that the percentage of child care programs meeting high-quality BrightStars standards will nearly double in FY 2017.
  • Provides $200,000 in funding for a 6-month extension of RIDE Early Learning Challenge staff and $350,000 for the Kindergarten Entry Profile initiative.
  • Requires that private health insurance providers, who have been required to cover Early Intervention services for eligible infants and toddlers since 2005, set payment rates for Early Intervention services equal to or greater than the prevailing integrated state Medicaid rate for Early Intervention services.
  • Expands Family Home Visiting services using $1.1 million in federal funds.
  • Establishes a $2.5 million categorical fund for English Language Learners (ELL) within the education funding formula that may only be used on evidence-based programs that benefit ELLs.
Although it is not included in the FY17 recommended budget submitted in February, the Governor recommends implementation of a system of tiered reimbursement rates for the Child Care Assistance Program to incentivize quality improvements should additional revenue be identified at the May revenue estimating conference.

Economic Well-Being
  • Increases Rhode Island's Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low- and moderate-income working families from 12.5% of federal EITC to 15.0%.
  • Increases the minimum wage from $9.60 per hour to $10.10 per hour, to take effect on January 1, 2017.
  • Proposes a $40 million bond to fund the development of affordable housing.
  • Increases the average daily foster care rate from $16.05 per day to $18.59 per day (a 16% increase). 
  • Allocates $187,000 for lead poisoning prevention efforts, including support for Certified Lead Centers, Lead Elimination Surveillance System, and other mapping and data analysis services.
  • Moves the administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) back to the RI Department of Health (from the RI Department of Human Services).
Children's Dental Health Month - TeethFirst! & RI child care providers
TeethFirst! is an initiative led by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, and includes partner organizations from across the state who are working to help people understand the importance of early dental visits for children.  

In honor of Children's Dental Health Month (CDHM), TeethFirst! will be sending oral health supplies and information to child care providers who care for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers across Rhode Island. Reaching out to child care providers - a trusted source of information for families, and place where many children spend a good part of their day - will help encourage early dental visits and build good habits for healthy teeth. 

Each child care provider will receive: 
  1. A lesson plan for teachers of young children about the importance of a healthy mouth and tooth brushing. 
  2. Two bilingual activity sheets to use in support of the lesson plan. 
  3. TeethFirst! kits for each child in your care. The kits will contain a postcard about TeethFirst!, a TeethFirst! brochure on early dental visits, and a TeethFirst! toothbrush. These take-home kits will help families learn about TeethFirst!, the importance of early dental visits, how to find a dentist, and other important topics. 

We will be sending out approximately 21,500 of these kits through 900 child care providers (centers and home-based child care providers) across Rhode Island in February.


Please click here to learn more about TeethFirst!, and to access bilingual oral health information - including free posters, brochures, and videos! 

New Policy Brief: Promoting Increased Physical Activity in Schools
Regular physical activity has been shown to improve strength and endurance, help control weight, and prevent chronic disease. It has also been shown to improve academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores. Research also shows positive effects on the brain, including improved attention, processing, memory, and coping. Promoting Increased Physical Activity in Schools provides an overview of current practices and policies regarding physical activity in Rhode Island schools (including recess and physical education), and includes recommendations for promoting increased physical activity in schools and early learning programs. 

For more, please see the media release,  event presentation, and event pictures.
Save the Date! 22nd Annual Factbook Breakfast

The 2016 Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook will be released on Monday, April 11, 2016 from 8:00 am - 10:00 am at The Crowne Plaza in Warwick, RI. An invitation is coming soon, but you can register early on our website!
Join Our Mailing List!
Are you interested in specific areas of child well-being? Rhode Island KIDS COUNT publishes E-Newsletters on specific areas related to child well-being: 
  • Children's Health and Health Insurance 
  • Child Welfare/Juvenile Justice 
  • Early Childhood/Early Learning 
  • Rhode Island KIDS COUNT also publishes a general interest E-Newsletter. 

Please click here to start receiving these updates today!