LAUP staff work vigorously at the local, state and federal levels to increase investment in quality early learning programs and to raise awareness about the importance and impact of quality early learning.
Through candidate forums, legislative briefings, public testimony, budget advocacy and a host of other measures, we develop new early learning champions and seek to advance the early learning field. We regularly partner with legislative offices and with education, advocacy and business organizations in our policy efforts. We also train parents to advocate for their children and communities through our Parent Ambassador Program, and work to further public policies that invest in the future of America by putting children first.
Here are some of our recent policy and advocacy efforts:
California State Budget Advocacy
During the 2015-16 state budget cycle, we provided budget recommendations to the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees, offered public comment at key hearings and met with legislators to encourage robust investments in early learning. Ultimately, the vigorous advocacy efforts of the Assembly Speaker, the Legislative Women’s Caucus, and dozens of ECE stakeholders, such as LAUP, proved fruitful when the Governor approved a budget package that included nearly $500 million for early learning. The package included funding for 8,877 new full-day/full-year California State Preschool Program spaces and increased reimbursement rates for early care and education providers.
Federal Budget Advocacy
We are currently advocating for greater investments in federal early learning programs. We have met with dozens of congressional offices to provide a state perspective on why more investment is needed in the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Federal Head Start and Preschool Development Grant Programs, and to explain how these programs are benefitting children and families. On December 12, 2016, the federal government approved a temporary spending bill that will keep the government running through April 28, 2017. However, this bill includes an 0.19 percent across the board cut for discretionary spending programs, and we are urging members of Congress to ensure that federal early learning programs are not negatively impacted by this decrease.
LAUP hosts local candidate forums in order to provide the public with an opportunity to learn about the views and policy positions of candidates for local, state and national office. Most recently, LAUP co-hosted candidate forums for the Fifth Supervisorial District and 35th Senate District races. During the forums, LAUP brought the issue of early care and education to the center of the debate by posing questions to the candidates about their plans to improve early learning opportunities for children in their districts. LAUP also delivered remarks at both forums about the positive impacts of investing in high-quality early learning.
Congressional Pre-K Caucus
In June 2016, LAUP’s Chief Program Officer, Dr. Kurtz, served as a panelist at the first briefing held by the Congressional Pre-K Caucus. Nearly 70 individuals from congressional offices, legislative committees and education organizations attending the briefing, which explored partnerships between community-based organizations and local Head Start programs, and highlighted Head Start success stories. The bipartisan Congressional Pre-K Caucus is co-chaired by Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK). The Caucus aims to examine high quality early learning programs and to develop policy recommendations to improve and expand early learning opportunities for the nation’s children
Preschool Visits for Legislators
LAUP regularly orchestrates preschool visits for legislators in order to showcase the work of local preschool providers and LAUP coaches, to educate legislators about the components of high-quality early learning programs and to discuss policy priorities. During these visits, legislators speak with administrators, teachers, parents and LAUP coaches, tour the preschool site and observe the early learning program in action. LAUP recently partnered with the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) and First 5 LA to orchestrate a visit for California Assemblymember Cristina Garcia to Columbia Plaza Child Development Center. We also orchestrated preschool visits for California Assemblymembers Richard Bloom and Reggie Jones-Sawyer.