DC Action Outlines FY22 Budget Priorities

March 27, 2021
Budget Priorities

We Must Move the District of Columbia Toward Equity for Children, Youth, and Families

On May 27, Mayor Bowser released 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

Lactation: $103,000


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

Learn24: $13,500,000*

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.

Featured Resources

August 11, 2021 – FY22 Budget Priorities Tracker

Let’s make sure this budget is a truly a budget that protects and prioritizes the needs of kids, youth, and their families. Follow along with our recently updated tracker of investments.

July 20, 2021 – Our Response to the DC Council’s First Budget Vote

Today, the DC Council took a huge step towards putting the District of Columbia on the path towards a fair and equitable recovery for children and working families. By raising revenue through a tax amendment that passed 8-5 today during the first vote on the budget, the District will modestly increase taxes for the highest earners (approx $31 more per month). This revenue will support funding the Birth-to-Three for All DC law, raising wages for thousands of early educators, making a historic investment in ending homelessness, and introducing a monthly basic income for individuals and families earning less than $57,414 for a family of three. The second vote on the budget, including the amendment, is in early August.

June 2, 2021 – Failure to Build a High-Quality Child Care System is a Major Misstep in the Mayor’s Budget

Mayor Bowser missed an unprecedented opportunity to combine federal and local funding to make bold, transformative investments that would strengthen the District’s early childhood system and ensure a just recovery for all children, families, and early learning programs. Her fiscal year (FY) 2022-2025 budget for early education fails to take transformative steps toward a high-quality, equitable, and sustainable early education systemas envisioned in the Birth to Three for all DC Law, which remains largely unfunded since its passage in 2018. The Mayor’s proposal uses nearly $147 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) and other federal funding through FY 2025 to make short-term investments sprinkled across a range of programs.

June 2, 2021– Budget Blog Post: DC Action Shares Initial Analysis of Mayor Bowser’s Proposed FY22 Budget

Mayor Bowser’s administration has completed her proposed FY22 budget, and it’s a testament to the significance of the Biden administration’s investments in children, youth, and their families through the American Rescue Plan and other robust federal relief. The proposed budget uses the nearly $3 billion in federal funding to close the anticipated budget gaps and avoid what might have been devastating cuts to critical city programs and services.

April 22, 2021– Opinion DC Line: Kimberly Perry: Critical investments are essential to protect the District’s future

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.”

Letter to Mayor Bowser on Youth Homelessness Advocacy Coalition’s FY22 Budget Priorities

“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 Coalition FY22 Budget Request Letter to Deputy Mayor Paul Kihn

“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.”

Letter to Mayor Bowser on Under 3 DC Coalition’s FY22 Budget Priorities

“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.”