Mayor Bowser’s Budget Proposal Decimates Child Care

Press Statement
For Immediate Release: April 3rd, 2024

Contact Info

Tawana Jacobs
Director, Brand and Communications
DC Action
tjacobs@dckids.org
301-325-8687
Matthew Hanson
Chief of Staff
DC Action
mhanson@dckids.org
202-725-4769
Gutting subsidies for families and betraying the promise of equal pay for educators will hurt DC’s businesses, families, young children and their teachers.

April 3, 2024—Today, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser released her proposed 2025 fiscal year budget that decimates the child care sector with massive, multi-year cuts to subsidies for families, and permanently eliminates the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund and HealthCare4ChildCare. 

Bowser’s budget proposal hurts working families and our local economy. At a time when high-quality child care in the District remains unaffordable and hard to find, as detailed in a Bainum Foundation study  released in February, these cuts will force child development facilities to increase costs for working families.  Another new study showed that lack of affordable care negatively impacts parents’ ability to keep gainful employment and businesses’ ability to operate.  These effects lead to lower incomes for families, worse productivity for businesses, and decreased tax revenue for the District. Under the current budget, child care challenges for parents of infants and toddlers lead to negative employment impacts that cost DC $8,100 per parent annually, or $252 million aggregated across all similar DC parents. The annual cost to businesses for each parent is $2,540, or $79 million aggregated across DC parents.  

The study also found that more than half of the parents surveyed said the high cost of care would make it harder for them to stay in the District – moving us farther away from the goal of a vibrant DC filled with working families. Early childhood education is an essential part of our economic infrastructure, as important as parks, office space, or retail shops. 

Bowser’s budget proposal hurts early educators, most of whom are Black and brown women. By permanently cutting pay and health benefits for more than 4,000 educators, Bowser will single-handedly be responsible for educators fleeing child care for higher paying jobs. Early educators could see their pay reduced by tens of thousands of dollars, returning many of their incomes to just a few dollars above the minimum wage.  

This is doubly betraying promises that the Mayor and DC Council made to early educators.  It reneges on the commitment in the Birth-to-Three For All DC Act to raise early educator salaries.  And the District required educators to meet new higher credential and degree requirements at the end of last year, which many have worked hard to do – now the Mayor proposes to break the promise of fair pay as compensation.

Quotes from Under 3 DC’s leadership

Tazra Mitchell, DC Fiscal Policy Institute: “The mayor’s budget takes an axe to the transformative investments—like the Pay Equity Fund—that DC has invested in recent years, prioritizing the wealthy business sector and police force over investments in DC residents struggling to get by. Eliminating the Pay Equity Fund and gutting the child care subsidy program will decimate the early education sector. Not only does the Mayor’s approach undermine her purported “economic comeback” vision, it backtracks on DC’s commitment to Black and brown educators fueling a sector that all other business sectors rely on. Her approach will set back the progress that DC has made on poverty reduction, greater economic inclusion, and closing racial and gender disparities that harm us all.”

Jacob Feinspan, Jews United for Justice: “The Thalmud teaches that children breathe life into the universe. To rob children of care – to rob educators of the resources they need to provide that care – would be shameful. The Council must not let the Mayor harm the thousands of working families who rely on these funds.”

Barbara Kamara, DC Early Learning Collaborative:This budget undermines the increases proposed for downtown, sports team retention, the support for Metro and the economic vitality of DC.  Without the early childhood sector, the government and all businesses are all negatively impacted.”

Kimberly Perry, DC Action: “What Mayor Bowser proposed today is devastating to the District’s families with young children. Our local child care sector and its early educator workforce, comprised of mostly Black and brown women, deserve better. How can she prioritize business and economic growth while simultaneously cutting a critical lifeline for working parents– child care.  Current child care challenges cost District businesses nearly $80 million and families $252 million each year. If Bowser truly cares about supporting business and economic growth, this move is misguided and it is imperative that the DC Council reverse this terrible proposal. 

LaDon Love, SPACEs in Action: “The Mayor’s budget is a betrayal of the educators that working families depend on and threatens to wipe out the District’s child care sector. Showering money on billionaires and corporations while increasing costs for working people is both unjust and terrible economic policy.”

The DC Council will hear from the early learning community, business leaders, and DC residents tomorrow, Thursday, April 4, during what is expected to be a marathon education hearing that is scheduled to begin at 9:00 am.  And, an Early Educator Rally will take place on Friday, April 5th at 8:00 AM to call on the DC Council to act immediately to reverse these proposed cuts.

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About DC Action

DC Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization making the District of Columbia a place where all kids grow up safe, resilient, powerful and heard. DC Action uses research, data, and a racial equity lens to break down barriers that stand in the way of all kids reaching their full potential. Our collaborative advocacy campaigns bring the power of young people and all residents to raise their voices to create change.

Under 3 DC

Under 3 DC harnesses the voices and power of the District’s parents with young children, early educators, and community-based organizations to shine a spotlight on the need for more public investments in early education and health programs for infants and toddlers. Together, we can set the District of Columbia on a path to creating and sustaining a high-quality, equitable early childhood system.