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The UPDATE

In Tuesday’s vote to approve the District’s FY22 budget, the DC Council demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of children, youth and families. Here’s a recap of significant recent changes to the budget in a few of DC Action’s priority areas..

Tax Increase Will Fund Early Childhood Educator Compensation Increase

Through a small tax increase on the highest earners, educators--most of whom are Black and brown--who work in child care and early learning settings, will finally see raises that begin to reflect the important work they do for young children and their families. The new local revenue will provide roughly:

  • $53M towards increasing wages to educators in fiscal year 2022
  • over $70 million annually beginning in fiscal year 2023
     

This vote marks a significant step on the path to making the District’s early childhood system more equitable, affordable, and accessible for all families and educators.

Youth Homelessness Services Receive Some Support, but Not Nearly Enough

Due to our collective advocacy, the DC Council found funds to restore nearly $307,000 in cuts to youth shelter and emergency services, rapid rehousing, and extended transitional housing--all essential services that get and keep young people off the streets. The budget includes funds for 10 new permanent supportive housing units for young people aging out of the youth system who will need long-term support in the adult system. This investment is an important step forward in cutting off the pipeline to chronic homelessness. In response to years of advocacy from the Youth Homelessness Advocacy Coalition, the DC Council will increase the per-unit investment for extended transitional housing (ETH). ETH is a service enriched program that is designed for young people with long histories of abuse, neglect, trauma, and both educational and workforce disruptions. With increased per-unit funding, providers will be able to fully embed the clinical, social and emotional, job training, and life skills services young people need to thrive independently in the future. 

While we appreciate these two investments, we are disappointed to see that neither Mayor Bowser nor the DC Council could find just over $1.6 million to fund the workforce programming, behavioral health, and mentorship programs that would have gone far to improve the lives and experiences of homeless young people. At a time when youth crime is soaring, youth are struggling to remain on track academically and economically, and are suffering the trauma of persistent social isolation and disruption, this failure to fully support unhoused young people is disheartening.

Read the full statement

Family Economic Security: Unemployed and Excluded Workers Make Gains

Ten thousand DC residents, many of whom are parents and head of households, whose unemployment checks were delayed for two months or more during the pandemic will receive one-time $500 payments, thanks to a budget amendment by Councilmember Elissa Silverman. Because of the high volume of workers filing for unemployment when COVID caused closures and layoffs, the Department of Employment Services was overwhelmed and unable to complete claims in a timely manner. The $5 million in funding comes from American Rescue Plan dollars. 

Roughly 15,000 excluded workers, primarily our undocumented parents and residents, will also now see a one-time payment of $3,000 after not receiving unemployment benefits during the pandemic. This is the direct result of their tireless organizing efforts that pushed the DC Council to add an extra $5 million to the fund, growing it to $41 million. While still far short of what they demanded, they showed that grassroots organizing efforts produce real change for working families. 

Read more in DCist

What’s Next for the Budget

The DC Council voted to approve the budget on Tuesday and is scheduled to finalize it August 10. 

DC Action is grateful for the persistent and vocal support of DC residents, our colleagues and partners who have worked tirelessly to advocate for the well-being of children, youth, and families. 

About DC Action

DC Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, multi-issue 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. We are home to DC Kids Count, Under 3 DC, DC Out-of-School Time Coalition, the DC Home Visiting Council and the Youth Homelessness Advocacy Coalition. Our collaborative advocacy campaigns bring the power of young people and all residents to raise their voices to create change.

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