DC Action’s 2022 Legislative and Budget Recommendations

January 28, 2022
Budget Priorities

1. Work toward equity and justice for kids, youth and families.

True equity and justice for families includes fair and living wages and safe and affordable housing for all. We recommend eradicating poverty, often the root cause of systemic racism, by implementing guaranteed basic income broadly, changing our tax code to promote greater equity, funding and enhancing affordable housing, and funding eviction prevention programs so District residents have a secure foundation on which to build successful lives.

2. Build strong families from the start.

Home visiting is a flexible and effective way of delivering education and support services to new parents and families with challenging circumstances to partner with them on their goals for success. We recommend expanding multi-year funding for family strengthening programs and providing fair and equitable compensation and for trained home visitors. 

3. Public investment in early learning pays off.

Early childhood education is foundational to the growth and future of every child. It’s imperative we bridge the gap between when a child is born to when they are ready for Pre-K. High-quality, affordable child care is necessary for working families. We recommend funding the Birth-to-Three for All DC Act to make child care affordable for families, provide mental health support, and stabilize the workforce with fair and equitable compensation for early educators. 

4. Ensure compliance with language access laws.

Language access is an equity issue. All child care programs should be able to participate in early learning opportunities offered by District  government without the barrier of English-only information. We recommend taking aggressive steps to enforce language access laws, and make sure families and workers’ whose primary language is not English are provided translation at every touch point.

5. Support students well-beyond the classroom.

Expanded learning and out-of-school-time programs provide vital academic, social-emotional support and safe havens for students while enabling parents to work. Unfortunately not enough families have access to the programs they want and need. These critical programs are also an effective tool for keeping young people and our communities safe. We recommend replacing one-time federal funds with local, recurring dollars to avoid a fiscal cliff.

6. Put youth on productive pathways to adulthood.

Youth economic justice centers the rights and opportunities of all youth, including those who are unhoused, parenting, LGBTQIA+, and not enrolled in school. We recommend new, aggressive investments in workforce development, guaranteed jobs, and youth-appropriate housing to end the cycle of homelessness, poverty, and unemployment.

 

7. Strengthen access to health services.

Health and mental health services must be accessible and of equally high quality in order to eliminate disparities that have long affected Black and brown children and families, women, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We recommend fully funding public health insurance and mental health services. We must also extend the recertification period of the DC Health Care Alliance from six-months to one year to guarantee everyone has access to the health care they need and deserve.

8. Ensure an inclusive local democracy.

Voting and a strong local democracy are central to the rights and opportunities of all DC residents. We recommend the District continue efforts to achieve statehood, support enfranchisement of all residents, including undocumented residents, and young people 16 and older, and make it easier to vote. 

9. Advocate for open and transparent local data.

Access to timely, consistent, and accurate data can influence and inform more equitable decision-making. We recommend the District’s agencies adopt a practice of providing more open and transparent data that can provide context, reveal trends and patterns related to race, neighborhood, and other markers related to children and youth.

10. Place anti-racist principles at the core.

Racial equity and antiracism must be at the core of local government to end the legacy of structural racism that contributes to poverty, unemployment, housing and food insecurity, and health disparities. We recommend integrating antiracist principles, policies and practices throughout District government services.

Our recommendations are data-driven and informed by the lived experiences of children, youth and working families. We believe that to be most effective, we cannot only express a commitment to anti-racism, we must measure our progress towards a future without racial disparities. DC Kids Count is our central data hub, designed to provide the best available District-level and ward-level data to measure child and young adult well-being and inspire innovative and equitable solutions. Visit DCKidsCount.org to learn more and access our data.