Budgets are value statements. Caring for our children is a fundamental human value, but in the United States we lag behind when it comes to translating that value into public policy. In 2021, only 9.4% of the federal budget was spent on children who make up 20% of the US population. At $10,700 per child, it was the most we have spent as a nation on our children since 1960. But because the increase was largely due to temporary, pandemic-related relief, that number is expected to fall beginning this year.
In contrast, historic trends consistently place other nations in the lead on investing in children. Most notably, the United States is on the bottom rungs of spending for early childhood (ages 0 - 5 years) where we rank #30 out of 35 countries.
While New York made historic investments last year in child care and education, in other areas we continue to fall short:
The next two months are critical for New York's children as our elected officials and civil servants in Albany enact the state budget for the coming year. You can be a part of making sure children are at the center of those negotiations. Read on to learn where we are in the state budget process and how you can speak boldly for children.
The Children's Agenda advocates on the state budget from start to finish. Our work began in November with setting our budget and policy goals in partnership with coalitions like the Empire State Campaign for Child Care and Kids Can't Wait, both of which we co-lead.
Working in coalition strengthens our power in Albany and ensures that children from Rochester and all across New York are supported.
Our staff also are in conversations with the Governor's office, New York State agencies, and legislators.
Our staff watching the State of the State address.
Read the Governor's briefing book and find where a report from The Children's Agenda was cited!
State of the State
The Governor's State of the State address on January 10th highlighted her top priorities for the year and gave us indications of what may be coming in her budget proposal. It was clear that she has been listening to the voices of families and advocates. We applaud many of her proposals, including:
However, there is more to be done. We need to:
Testifying for Child Care
Last week, our Policy Director Pete Nabozny, was invited to testify before the NY State Senate Committee on Children and Families about how to fix the child care crisis. A veteran at testifying before legislative committees, Pete deftly shared data in a way that was both understandable and compelling. You can read his testimony here.
The crisis comes down to two simple facts: parents can't afford to pay more for child care, but providers can't afford to charge less. As Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said, child care is a textbook example of a broken market.
You can watch the full public hearing here and see members of the Empire State Campaign for Child Care in action. The similarity in their messages is no accident. It is the result of years of working together and uniting with a common purpose. As a co-leader of the campaign, The Children's Agenda is building the movement for universal child care in New York.
After the Governor introduces her budget proposal, the Assembly and Senate will hold further hearings to shape their own proposals. The Children's Agenda looks forward to the chance to testify again. Stay tuned!
Our Policy Director, Pete Nabozny, testifying.
NY State Senate Committee on Children and Families, Public Hearing on Child Care
Governor's Budget Proposal
The Governor will release her budget proposal on Wednesday (February 1st). We will dive into it immediately and parse out what is being proposed for children. Keep an eye on your inbox for updates and Action Alerts!
You can amplify the message by getting your friends involved. Encourage them to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and to sign up for email updates and alerts at thechildrensagenda.org/advocate/
There will be many opportunities to take action over the next two months, so be ready to send letters and make phone calls!
Parents and youth in Albany advocating for Solutions Not Suspensions on Monday
Come to Albany!
You can speak boldly in Albany, too! Join with parents, child care providers, service providers, students, educators, faith leaders and others from Monroe County and across New York to advocate with legislators.
The Children's Agenda will:
Click here to sign up.
Meet Monica Graham, a member of the Very Invested Parents (VIPs) advocacy group organized by The Children's Agenda. Monica is one of 45 Rochester parents, youth, community leaders and advocates who went to Albany on Monday to advocate for Solutions Not Suspensions.
Monica has been a Pillar of Hope through the City of Rochester for four years. Through the teachings of this program she helps children to LOVE who they are and know that their voice MATTERS. She is also a parent representative for the School Based Planning Team at RCSD's School of the Arts where she lifts up parent and student voices and advocates for more Diversity, Equity, Access and Antiracist curriculum support.
"It can be discouraging at times and tiring when you are fighting against an unjust system. No matter how many times you are dismissed, pushed away or ignored REMEMBER your voice matters!!! By becoming part of a parent centered group you will find the support you need to rest, replenish and reinvigorate your passion as a parent leader."
To join the VIPs advocacy group, contact Carmen Torres at (585) 256-2620 ext. 2613 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawmakers, Hochul Clash on Plans to Fix Child Care Crisis (Spectrum)
One-time Employee Bonuses or Temporary Policy Changes Won’t Fix Child Care Access Problem in Upstate New York (FingerLakes1)
Geneva's Lakefront Childcare Center Names New Executive Director (FingerLakes1)
Langston McFadden, new member of our Board of Directors
Channing Harrell, spring Intern from St. John Fisher University
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The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.