What the FY25 Budget Means for Children, Youth, and Families

June 13, 2024
Blog Post

This week the DC Council voted to approve a budget for FY25 that is in much better shape than the proposal they received from Mayor Bowser.  After the public outcry in response to Bowser’s proposed cuts and elimination of critical programs for children, youth, and families, the DC Council listened to educators, youth, and other residents–during numerous hearings, town halls, rallies, and community office hours–about the critical unmet needs in early education, out-of-school time, and home visiting. While the Council’s willingness to protect and restore funds for these important programs is appreciated, the necessary work is not finished. For example, this budget does not meet the increasing costs of organizations providing services to youth experiencing homelessness or provide additional mental health services that young people need.

“We sincerely thank Chairman Mendelson and the DC Council for greatly improving this budget from what the mayor originally proposed, but much more must be done for the District to become a city that genuinely meets the needs of children and families of color. When we develop the budget priorities we present to lawmakers, it is with the vision of a better future for all of our children and youth, and always through a racial equity lens. We seek transformation. This budget offers band-aids. Yes, we are glad that many essential programs are funded, but year after year, funding is fractured and unpredictable. We still need a long-term, holistic, viable plan for children, youth, and families in the District. No one in our government is proposing one. Health, education, public safety, housing stability, financial well-being, and employment are all inextricably related. As a city, we must look at the big picture to understand and address how our budgeting will effectively combat racial discrimination and poverty, and craft a plan to accomplish those goals.” 

–DC Action Executive Director Kimberly Perry

DC Action Budget Priorities vs. Budget Outcomes

Here’s the detailed breakdown about what DC Action advocated for in the FY25 budget, and what was actually included.

Early Childhood Education

  • We asked for full restoration of funding for the Pay Equity Fund, which would require $87 million annually to include promised pay parity for early educators and access for all early learning staff to HealthCare4ChildCare. In this budget, only $70 million is allocated for the Pay Equity Fund for next year. This means early educators will likely receive pay cuts, and there will be a waitlist for new enrollment in HealthCare4ChildCare. 
  • We asked for protection of investments in Pre-K. The mayor proposed cuts. In this budget, the DC Council restored those cuts by adding $9.5 million in new, one-time funding for the Pre-K Enhancement and Expansion Program (PKEEP), which brings the total FY25 allocation to $21,164,546.
  • We asked for protection of funding for the child care subsidy. The mayor cut $10 million. In this budget, the funding has not been restored. 

Home Visiting 

  • We asked for funding to implement the  Home Visiting Services Reimbursement Act of 2023. We received $230,591 in FY25 and $4.5 million across the financial plan to implement the legislation for nurse-home visiting programs. 
  • We asked for funding to supplement the Nurse Family Partnership Program beyond the Mayor’s $225,000 allocation. We received $100,000 in additional one-time funding for the Nurse Family Partnership Program. 
  • We asked to restore CFSA home visiting to FY24 funding levels. We received $400,000 in one-time funding for CFSA home visiting.

Health

Per our recommendations, this budget protects funding for Medicaid, DC Healthy Families, the Alliance, and the Immigrant Children’s Program, all of which provide critical health insurance and services for children, youth, and families.

Baby Bonds

We recommended funding the Baby Bonds program as it was intended when legislation was passed in 2021. This would make families living at 300% of the federal poverty line eligible, with an annual contribution of up to $1000 determined by family income. This budget keeps the mayor’s proposed changes of limiting eligibility to children in families living at 100% of the federal poverty line but, starting October 2024, increases the maximum annual contribution to $1000, with exact amounts to be based on the sports betting revenue.

Child Tax Credit

We recommended a local child tax credit that provides at least $1,500 per child (up to age 18), primarily to support families whose incomes are at 300% of the federal poverty line, which would reduce child poverty by 18%, lifting 4,700 children out of poverty. This budget creates a District Child Tax Credit with a maximum refundable tax credit of $420 (for children up to age six), depending on family income. 

Out-of-School Time

We asked for and received $27 million for OST grants in the Deputy Mayor for Education/Learn24 budget, which replaces federal pandemic-era investments with local dollars. This represents an increase of $13.5 million in local dollars. We also asked for a commitment from DCPS to cover security costs during afterschool hours when OST programs are providing services. However, uncertainty remains in the DCPS budget regarding security funding levels and we will continue to demand the District cover costs of DCPS site-based afterschool programming. 

Youth Homelessness

    • We asked for increases in provider contracts, by at least $3.5 million, to account for inflation and the rising number of youth experiencing homelessness who need services. No additional funding was allocated, and contracts remain flat funded which is a de facto cut due to the rising number of youth experiencing homelessness. 
    • We asked for support for a $1.7 million pilot program to provide mobile mental health support to youth experiencing homelessness. No funding was allocated.
  • We asked for a commitment to updating Solid Foundations or a comparable plan to end youth homelessness. No funding was allocated or commitment was given.

Nonprofit Fair Compensation Act

We asked for funding of the Nonprofit Fair Compensation Act, passed in 2021, to guarantee nonprofit organizations receiving contracts and grants are fully paid for their overhead and indirect costs. Years of flat funding District nonprofits, coupled with failure to pay their indirect rates, has created a financial and staffing crisis for direct service providers of all sizes. No funding was allocated for the Nonprofit Fair Compensation Act. Two DC Council committee reports included policy recommendations to urge the executive to identify funding in future years and take non-funding related steps toward implementation of the Act. 

What’s Next

As you know, we won’t stop working for our infants, toddlers, children, youth, families, and educators. We won’t stop until the systems that reinforce racism and entrenched poverty have been overturned. We won’t stop until the racial wealth gap is closed. We won’t stop until all of our young people can enjoy safe, healthy, fulfilling lives and opportunities. DC Action can’t do it alone–we need all of you to work alongside us to realize our vision. Another budget season has ended, but our work goes on. Thank you for standing with us and with the children, youth, and families of the District of Columbia.