DC Action’s Budget Priorities

January 20, 2021
Budget Priorities


The District of Columbia is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis, the results of which are likely to shape the future of the District for years, if not decades to come. As the Mayor and 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. Systemic racism hurts all of our residents, especially our children. It is particularly Black and Brown families, living in neighborhoods and communities with a history of underinvestment due to racial discrimination, that deserve our attention when it comes to advocating for fair, just, and equitable investments — in income, health, education and housing security.

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.



Protect Health, Housing and Income Security for Children, Youth, and Families

While the District’s revenue has decreased in recent months, the city has healthy reserves in place to fill in the gaps. Now is the time to dip into the $1.43 billion rainy day fund to keep education, health, housing, and income security investments in place for DC’s children, youth, and families. Any cuts during the pandemic and in the recovery will be detrimental to the stability of DC’s families.


Implement Paid Family Leave

D.C.’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave Program is slated to launch July 1. We urge District leaders to stand with doctors, scientists, and front-line workers by keeping the commitment they made to DC residents: that no parent should be forced to choose between their job and their health. $250,000,000


Stimulate Economic Recovery With Child Care Investments

The lack of access to public dollars is putting child care programs at risk for permanent closure. Even pre-COVID-19, child care programs were operating within thin profit margins. Due to the length of time of the closures and the deep financial loss, the child care sector requires an increase in public funding to remain open. Public investment will stabilize the industry and allow parents to head back to work by ensuring they have child care. $10,000,000


Protect Critical Investments in Early Childhood

Early learning begins at birth and continues throughout the lifespan. The District of Columbia is a trailblazer in early childhood education. We urge District leaders to protect all current public investments in infants and toddlers by maintaining FY19-20 funding levels.

Child Care Subsidy helps eligible families who live in DC pay for child care. $76,000,000
HealthySteps embeds a mental health specialist within primary care to engage with families at each routine pediatric visit from birth to three years of age. $300,000
Healthy Futures provides child and family-centered consultation to child care providers that build their skills to promote social emotional development. $1,500,000
Home Visiting by a social worker, educator, or other trained professional during pregnancy and in the first years of a child’s life is proven to help prevent child abuse and neglect, support positive parenting, improve maternal and child health, and promote child development and school readiness. $4,500,000


Stabilize Out-of-School Time

Keep funding for high quality youth development programs that take place before and after school and during the summer months stable so children and youth have access to services that help them recover socially, emotionally and academically from the pandemic. $14,000,000


Expand Access to Vital Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Programs

The pandemic has exposed the glaring racial inequities in health. Children and youth deserve quality, affordable, coordinated and culturally appropriate health services, mental health services and nutrition to learn, grow and thrive. We call on District and Federal lawmakers to preserve funding and remove barriers to key health programs.

  • DC Healthy Families                                                                                                         $45,600,000*
  • DC Health Care Alliance                                                                                                    $91,000,000
  • Immigrant Children’s Program                                                                                  Data Not Available
  • Medicaid                                                                                                                      $3,000,000,000*
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)                                                    $172,079,000*
  • Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)                                                                 $15,121,000*                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         *Combination of both federal and local funds


Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness

The District’s homelessness services system is gaining momentum in its effort to end youth homelessness. But, with greater collaboration and stable, multi-year investments we can drive major systems change.


Collaborate with the community to develop a Children’s Services Coordination Program in neighborhood family shelters and motels, evidenced-based services to keep children safe and help children break the cycle of chronic homelessness.


Maintain FY 19-20 funding levels for all youth housing programs which are key to eliminating chronic homelessness and right now, in the wake of COVID-19, are critical to keeping kids safe.


Moderately increase funding for the extended transitional housing program to provide youth with safe and secure places to live with wrap around services.



Adopt Viable Revenue Raisers

The District’s children, youth and families should be able to count on strong public investments in good times and challenging times. We call on Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to eliminate wasteful, corporate tax breaks and adopt new sources of revenue, including more progressive tax brackets that ask our wealthiest residents to pay their fair share.