DC Action Outlines FY22 Budget Priorities:
We Must Move the District of Columbia Toward Equity for Children, Youth, and Families
In late May, Mayor Bowser will release her administration’s FY21 supplemental and FY22 budgets. In the months to follow, as Mayor Bowser and the DC Council work together to pass a balanced budget, it is vital they keep their commitment to placing racial equity at the center of their decisions.
For years, our policy makers have pursued “color-blind” solutions to address policy failures, and as the data shows, we are still suffering deeply racist outcomes. For example, our efforts to raise family income looks like a success on paper because the average pay for families has increased, but when we break it down by race it’s clear that policy makers have failed to promote shared prosperity for everyone. The gains Black and brown families have seen in their incomes are dwarfed by the wide gap with white families’ incomes. And even those on reasonably stable financial footing are still more likely to experience poor outcomes in health and education. This last point should drive home the inescapable fact that racist policies cut across class. We will be unable to address any kind of inequality, without addressing racism. The effects of COVID exacerbate inequalities and amplifies the District’s fragmented response to serving our residents.
Innovative and equitable investments like universal early education, preventive health care homes, trauma-informed education and community-based services, mental health care, and safer communities resulting from more community social workers and less over-policing are all a part of the solution, and these investments need to be protected and sustained.
When evaluating this and next year’s funding, we urge Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to consider the racial equity implications of each and every one of their funding decisions.
Put More Public Investments in Our Youngest Residents Ages Birth to Three
Research shows that a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development during their first three years of life makes a significant impact on lifelong health, well-being, and success. Long-standing structural barriers of social and economic discrimination woven into government policies have proved hard for Black and Latinx families to overcome as they seek better outcomes for their children. The Black infants and toddlers in the District who could benefit the most from high-quality child care, health, and education programs are the least likely to have access because of the high cost and low supply. Our collective goal is to build a better-connected, more supportive early childhood system that works for ALL of the District’s families.
Protect Current Funding
Help Me Grow: $581,000
Home Visiting - Child and Family Services Administration (CFSA): $675,000
Home Visiting - DC Health: $2,600,000
New Investments in FY22
Child Care Subsidy: $60,000,000
Healthy Futures: $675,000
Healthy Steps: $300,000
Avoid Any Cuts to Programs Protecting Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness
Too many young people in the District of Columbia experience homelessness and go to sleep without the safety, stability, and support of a family or a home. And, now the pandemic has further complicated their path to stability.
To promote economic justice in which all young people have a safe and secure place to live, District leaders must hold harmless funding for essential services that protect our children and youth. The District must also make new investments in critical areas identified by young people experiencing homelessness that will prevent their entry into the adult homelessness system, and give them the work and employment skills they need for self-sufficiency.
Protect Current Funding
Safe shelter and high-quality services for unaccompanied youth: $21,000,000
Safe family shelter: $107,000,000
New Investments in FY22 for Youth Homelessness System
One-time cost analysis of youth homeless services: $75,000
Workforce programming for homeless youth: $574,000
Professional development fund: $70,000
Youth mentoring pilot program: $350,000
Mobile behavioral health team: $558,000
Permanent Supportive Housing set-aside for youth in adult system: $345,000
Build On Critical Investments in Health and Nutrition
Children and youth deserve quality and culturally appropriate health care, mental health services, and nutritious food in order to learn, grow, and thrive.
DC Action supports strengthening access to our system of critical health supports such as School-Based Health Services, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, DC Healthy Families, the Immigrant Children's Program, and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program.
Protect Current Funding
DC Healthy Families
DC Health Care Alliance
Healthy Schools and Healthy Students Amendment Acts
Immigrant Children’s Program
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Women, Infant, and Children Program (WIC)
New Investments in FY22
Medicaid: Infant and postpartum care (1 year after childbirth): $136,000
DC Health Care Alliance: 12 month recertification: $13,808,000
WIC Expansion Act: $125,000
DC Action’s Recommended Program Improvements
Medicaid/DC Healthy Families: Continuous eligibility
SNAP: Increase telephone customer service to accommodate phone applications
WIC: Fully implement eWIC
Protect and Increase Current Investments in Out-of-School-Time Programs
OST programs are a critical element in stemming and reversing learning loss. Just as important, OST programs support young people in healing from the loss and trauma they and their communities have experienced during the pandemic so they can thrive inside and outside of the classroom.
Strong partnerships between OST programs and schools have been a key component of the District’s education landscape since before the pandemic, and will continue to be as we look to the future.
Protect and Restore Current Funding
Commission on the Arts and Humanities - Arts Learning: $175,000
Department of Parks and Recreation: $11,000,000
*An additional $4 million for Learn24 would restore funding to FY19 levels, adjusted for inflation and administrative capacity.
Adequately and Equitably Fund Public Schools
DC Action joins partners such as the Children's Law Center, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, the Georgetown Juvenile Justice Initiative, Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE), and the School Justice Project to double down on funding for school equity.
New Investments in FY22
Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) base: $106,000,000
Supplemental UPSFF weights for special student populations: $101,000,000
Listen to Youth Leaders and Ensure Student Safety
DC Action supports youth leaders in their advocacy efforts to reimagine school safety and student discipline. Students demand that the dollars from the DC Public Schools’ security contract and the Metropolitan Police Department’s School Safety Division be redirected to school-based mental health programs and other initiatives that promote a safe and positive school environment. The planning to redirect funds must be an open, inclusive, and fully transparent process that centers the voices of student and youth leaders.
Redirect funding from school security contracts: $36,900,000
A Full Economic Recovery and Closing Racial Gaps Requires Raising Revenue
To ensure the District’s families recover from the harmful effects of the pandemic and fully close equity gaps, District leaders will need to effectively leverage existing funding and strategically allocate federal relief funds, as well as generate new, recurring revenue.
We will continue to urge and work with District leaders to find, align, generate, and then activate new revenue to ensure our young people have all they need to grow up safe, resilient, powerful, and heard.
Our city — our entire society — has reached a decision point. As we begin to emerge from the worst public health crisis in a century and we grapple with the undeniable epidemic of racial injustice, we must choose how to move forward. Our children cannot afford for us to return to “normal.”
"While much progress has been made, we still have a long way to go to ensure all our young people have safe housing and the support they need to make the successful transition to adulthood. Today we are writing to share our FY22 budget priorities, priorities we know will further our shared vision of a city where no young person lacks a safe and stable place to call home."
"OST programs are a critical element in stemming and reversing learning loss. Just as important, OST programs support young people in healing from the loss and trauma they and their communities have experienced during the pandemic so they can thrive inside and outside of the classroom. Strong partnerships between OST programs and schools have been a key component of the District’s education landscape since before the pandemic, and will continue to be as we look to the future."
"Now is not the time for budget cuts, underfunding of services, or harmful reprogramming of subsidy dollars that could emaciate our early childhood systems. Such actions would only hinder the District’s economic recovery; exacerbate inequality in the city; and further compound COVID-19 related suffering for DC families, especially Black and Latinx families."