Updated: December 5, 2016
The Child Care and Early Learning Action Hub brings together four national organizations – American Federation of Teachers (AFT) , Center for Community Change (CCC), Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – and state grassroots groups to win policy changes that expand affordable, quality child care and pre-K education.
In each state, there’s a robust partnership of allies, led by organizations that represent impacted people that collaborates on legislative strategy and builds grassroots capacity in key districts to influence the policy debate. Below is a summary of current state and local campaigns:
In Alameda County, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and Parent Voices are working with SEIU Locals 521 and 1021, along with partners like Raising CA Together to win local funding to increase the wages of child care workers, make child care more affordable for families, and build parent and worker power to win future investment locally and statewide. The goal is to enact a new policy based to increase provider pay based on a successful wage-supplemental program in San Francisco and identify short-term local funding to sustain it by June 2017. The policy will also establish a worker advocacy organization, Raising Alameda, to win permanent funding to increase wages, access, and quality in the 2018 election cycle. Partners have met with key members of the Board of Supervisors on the local child care crisis facing early educators and parents to kick off the campaign. Parents and workers launched a countywide organizing committee in July, engaged SEIU 1021 members who are parents via a child care survey, and won support of the influential Central Labor Council.
The Connecticut Working Families Party, working with SEIU/CSEA Local 2001, SEIU 1199NE, Make the Road Connecticut, Connecticut Citizen Action Group, and Early Childhood Alliance led efforts this year to expand upon their 2015 victory that established a Low Wage Advisory Board, by campaigning for Senate Bill 391, a measure requiring large employers pay a low wage employers fee of one dollar per hour worked for each employee paid less than $15 an hour. Connecticut’s Office of Fiscal Analysis indicated the bill would have generated $150 million in 2017 and $300 million in 2018. Unfortunately, SB 391 failed due to inaction, and instead the General Assembly passed a budget agreement that cut child care funding. Advocates pressed this issue during the elections and are now gearing up for the 2017 legislative session.
In Chicago, the “Building Brighter Futures” campaign, featuring a broad array of partners including Action Now, SEIU Healthcare, the Chicago Teachers Union, Communities United, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Pilsen Alliance, and United Working Families, is pushing for city-wide universal access to publicly funded quality early education in by the end of 2018. In July, Action Now hired dedicated staff to start building a committee of leaders to drive the campaign and to integrate early education into civic engagement work in neighborhoods on the Southside and Westside of Chicago leading up to the elections. The work also includes building infrastructure for the 2017 municipal elections and developing an advocacy strategy for the “Universal Access Zones” policy campaign in 2018.
During the 2016 election cycle, SEIU Healthcare and Action Now worked to re-elect and elect state legislators who support early childhood education for working families, specifically around overturning Governor Rauner’s veto on Senate Bill 730. SB 730 sought to expand the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) to families with incomes between 185-250 percent of the federal poverty line by 2018. The groups made child care a major issue in several targeted races, including in the 112th district, where Katie Stuart defeated incumbent State Representative Dwight Kay, a CCAP opponent.
ISAIAH has been leading a partnership with the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) and Minnesotans for a Fair Economy to organize preschool center directors, parents, educators, and community members into a multi-year campaign to invest in young children, their families and child care providers. Throughout the 2016 election, the coalition mobilized to make child care and preschool pressing issues for candidates and the public in several key legislative races. More than 350 leaders from Greater Minnesota held legislative forums with their state House and Senate candidates in Faribault, Northfield, Saint Cloud, and Wilmar; ISAIAH leaders knocked on more than 60,000 doors on their “Families First” agenda, recruiting thousands of “Kids Count On Us” voters as part of their civic engagement program; additionally, organizers have met with more than 110 child care center directors in several targeted districts. In the 2016 legislative session, activists won $25 million in new funding to expand access to early learning for 4-year-olds as well as improve job standards for workers. In 2017, families and child care providers will be demanding an investment in early childhood education through raising reimbursement rates for low-income families seeking affordable child care and securing public, universal pre-K for all Minnesotans.
Child care centers that are part of the partnership between Organizers in the Land of Enchantment (OLÉ) and AFT are creating a fund to cover the cost of early educators’ sick days, funded with contributions from providers, educators, and charitable organizations. AFT, NM Early Educators United, OLÉ and the Healthy Workforce Albuquerque Coalition are also organizing to win a ballot initiative establishing a paid sick days ordinance in Albuquerque. The initiative, originally slated for November of 2016 and backed with 24,000 signatures, has been delayed until 2017.
In a major campaign, advocates are working to win a dedicated revenue stream from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund in the upcoming legislative session to fund comprehensive improvements in the state’s child care system, including increased subsidies for low income parents, higher wages for providers, public-private early learning alignment, and shared systems for worker training, scheduling and sick day coverage. New Mexico is facing a $700 million deficit, so efforts to pass the Permanent Fund constitutional amendment will be coupled with efforts to prevent cuts to child care programs and pass additional revenue-generating legislation. This effort got a huge boost on Election Day as Democrats took control of the legislature by winning the House and increasing their margin in the Senate.
Voters overwhelmingly approved an historic ballot measure that will expand preschool citywide to the vast majority of 3- and 4-year-olds in the city (6,000 kids a year), raise the pay of educators, and offer targeted contract opportunities for independent centers and home-based early childhood education providers. The measure won by a stunning 24-point margin, the biggest victory for a school levy in Cincinnati history. Issue 44 will raise $48 million a year for five years, of which $15 million a year will be used for the preschool expansion. The property tax levy will cost an owner of a $100,000 property about $277.55 per year or about $5 a week.
The AMOS Project, a faith-based affiliate of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, joined forces with Preschool Promise, the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, and other community stakeholders to spearhead the campaign. The initiative builds on AMOS’s successful effort to ban suspensions and expulsions for children in pre-K to third grade, actions that disproportionately punish children of color.
The AMOS Project played a key role in helping to shape Issue 44 through the creation of the People’s Platform for Universal Preschool. The group held dozens of meetings with hundreds of community members to craft this platform, which calls for preschool expansion that respects every child, promotes racial equity, creates only good jobs, and keeps family voices at the center. AMOS Project volunteers and staff knocked on more than 60,000 doors and talked to over 10,000 voters, and over 750 people volunteered on the campaign. Earlier this year, the AMOS Project registered more than 47,000 voters in Cincinnati, helping to dramatically change the composition of the city’s electorate.
In Dayton, voters also approved, with more than 56% of the vote, a major expansion of preschool as part of a larger package of improvements to the city’s infrastructure and services. With strong leadership from Mayor Nan Whaley, Dayton’s labor unions, and the Miami Valley Organizing Collaborative (also an affiliate of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative), voters supported a .25% earnings tax increase to fund universal preschool for 4-year-olds, and support roads, police, infrastructure, and emergency services. Approximately forty percent of the tax revenue, or $4.3 million, will go to preschool. Dayton has approximately 1,900 4-year-olds, and 3 out of 4 children do not begin Kindergarten ready to learn. Issue 9 will cost a taxpayer making $35,000 per year about $1.60 per week. This was the first income tax increase in 32 years.
Stand Up for Ohio (the c4 affiliate of Ohio Organizing Collaborative) played a decisive role in the Dayton win. Since September, the group’s volunteers and staff knocked on more than 85,000 doors, talked to 29,000 voters, and held numerous community forum events across the city in support of Issue 9. Earlier this year, the Miami Valley Organizing Collaborative registered more than 17,000 voters in Dayton, helping to fundamentally shift the composition of the electorate in the city.
Family Forward Oregon (FFO) and Family Forward Action (FFA) have partnered with SEIU Local 503 to build CareWorks Oregon, a campaign to win game-changing public investments in care in 2017 and beyond. FFA is working together to organize child care, home care and other paid care providers alongside parents, consumers and unpaid family caregivers. FFAC are developing an agenda to increase public spending on child care, home care services, and supports for unpaid family caregivers, with an additional focus on improving working conditions for those working in the care economy. This effort reflects a long-term, successful partnership between SEIU and FFA. The shared vision for CareWorks Oregon is to grow public investments in care work to improve the affordability of care as well as the status of care workers. Following a difficult loss of a revenue ballot initiative in November, activists are developing new strategies for driving their program forward in the 2017 legislative session.
2,500 early education parents, teachers, center owners and advocates to expand funding for early learning slots in Allegheny County as well as work toward policy and electoral victories at the city, regional and state levels. Statewide, advocates are mobilizing in support of Governor Tom Wolfe’s commitment to increase funding for early learning to increase pre-K enrollment by 75% for 4-year-olds and also pushing for increased job standards for workers.
In the 2016 election, One Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers ran a strong campaign that engaged parents and educators at child care centers across Allegheny County on the issue of early education and care. Through one-on-one conversations around voter registration and vote pledges, they highlighted the pressing need for affordable and accessible child care and preschool, including addressing the low wages of providers and exorbitant cost of care. Activists knocked on 60,000 doors and signed up and mobilized thousands of “early education voters” to make child care and pre-K a major issue in the 2016 election. Earlier this year the groups helped win and fund a new Office of Early Childhood in the City of Pittsburgh. With strong support from the mayor, major preschool expansion is on the horizon.