By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,
Mayor Muriel Bowser announced new investments in her proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Fair Shot Budget to support high-quality, early child care and early childhood education in D.C. on March 27.
The District’s Child Care Subsidy Program could expand eligibility to more D.C. families, raising the income cap from $75,000 to $90,000 for a family of four, or 300 percent of the federal poverty line.
This expanded investment would make 2,200 District new children eligible for subsidized child care.
“Many families in the District are able to take advantage of subsidized child care in our subsidized child care program, which pays part or all of families’ child care expenses, and those payments go directly to the provider,” said Bowser at a press conference.
“What my budget proposal does is it increases the number of families who are eligible for that program. As I said in my inaugural address, we are trying to do more and more for middle-income families.”
Bowser announced the investments at the Easterseals Child Development Center in Ward One. The early childhood education organization was named the winner of the FY22 D.C. Child Care Subsidy Program and Access to Quality Child Care Grant.
With its $1.6 million award, the organization plans to open a new child development center in Ward 5, which will generate 80 new child care slots and 30 jobs. It will also serve families who are low-income and experiencing homelessness.
“At the start of the pandemic, we made an intentional move to stabilize our early childhood sector. D.C.’s commitment made us a leader in the nation, and we didn’t want to slow down,” said Bowser at a press conference.
“We know that high-quality childcare is critical to the long-term development of a child. It helps us attract and keep families in D.C., and it creates more opportunities for parents.”
Bowser also announced that her proposed FY 2024 Fair Shot Budget would include $6.8 million to the Special Education Enhancement Fund, aimed at providing childcare slots for infants and toddlers with disabilities and out-of-school time slots for children with disabilities.
The investment could help 75 infants, 100 pre-K students and 100 school-age children with special needs.
“The Special Education Enhancement Fund is going to continue to ensure that early learning for all of our early learners exists and happens in D.C. because we know that all of our children and all of our families deserve access to quality early childhood education,” Christina Grant, state superintendent for education, at a press conference.
D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) plans to create a grant program to award funds to licensed child development facilities that serve children with disabilities. The agency will also roll out a referral program for D.C. families who have children with disabilities, so they can obtain dedicated time slots and seats in schools.
Grant spoke on the need to help students as early in their academic career as possible at a recent press conference.
“We know, the educators know and the parents know
] the earlier that you are able to acknowledge these needs and intervene on these needs, the earlier we can make sure that our students are ready for entry into our K-12 system,” she said.
Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.
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