Victory! Thanks to the advocacy of moms and families across Washington, the Washington State Legislature is ending the 2020 legislative session with some major victories on childcare and early learning, maternal health, comprehensive sex ed, and unemployment insurance access for family caregivers!
This is huge and it is thanks to parent advocates like you rising up and taking action. Our work isn't done yet. We will continue building MOMentum as we prepare for the 2021 legislative session. But before we do that, it's time to say thanks to our legislators for their hard work this session.
We fought hard this session along side moms, dads, and family members like YOU! In January, dozens of MomsRising members joined us in Olympia for MomsRising's largest lobby day yet! We took the messages and stories of moms and families right into the heart of Olympia. Throughout the legislative session, MomsRising members testified in committee, met with legislators, attended town halls, spoke with reporters, sent emails, and made phone calls to keep the MomsRising legislative priorities moving forward.
All of that hard work paid off with some MOMumental wins:
- Early Learning Investments: The Washington Legislature invested significantly in early learning to help our littlest learners, their families, and their teachers! The state committed $6 million to help lower parents' childcare co-pays and they made investments in scholarships for early learning providers as well as in dual language instruction. Lawmakers also increased reimbursement rates for ECEAP (the state preschool program) and childcare meaning that childcare and pre-k providers will be compensated at higher levels for the care they provide to children and families with low-incomes. Higher reimbursement rates will also make it easier for providers to keep their doors open and will make it easier for families to find care options.
- ESSB 6128 Postpartum Apple Health Coverage: Extends postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60-days to 12-months when federal funds become available. The final budget also allocated funding to allow the Health Care Authority to begin the technological and internal work necessary to implement this expansion so that it can go into effect immediately upon availability of funds.
- ESSB 5473 Studying Barriers to Unemployment Insurance for Caregivers: This study will identify how family caregivers are experiencing the unemployment insurance system and provide data on the potential impacts of changing good-cause quits to be inclusive of family caregiving responsibilities for young children and vulnerable adults.
- ESSB 5395 Comprehensive Sexual Health Education: Ensures life-saving access to medically-accurate, LGBTQ+ affirming sexual health education for Washington students and ensure that our children know the importance of affirmative consent.
- HB 2456 Homeless Child Care: Extends the grace period for families experiencing homelessness to fulfill Working Connections Child Care program requirements from 4 to 12 months.
We are also thankful for the bipartisan work that led to a $200 million in state funding to help local communities and families respond to the growing COVID-19 outbreak. This is what leadership looks like in our Washington.
And yes, there's still work to do. Several MomsRising priorities did not make it to final passage: the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, the Working Families Tax Credit, secure scheduling, and funding for implementation of postpartum Apple Health coverage. We will be working hard through the interim to continue to build support for these critically important policies.
But before that work continues, it's important that we say thanks. Legislative session is a big undertaking: lawmakers are living away from their families, working around-the-clock, and trying to keep countless important issues moving forward. Our elected leaders sacrifice a lot to provide a critical public service.
Thank you for all that you do!