The 2014 legislative session wrapped today, marking the end of a major budget rebalance that left many state agencies forced to make some difficult cuts. Despite it being a whirlwind session, we were still able to accomplish some important things for Oregon families this year.
Here is a summary of our 2014 priorities:
This year, Children First focused on access to child care assistance for working parents as a key issue. We asked lawmakers to invest in Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) to make the child care subsidy available to more families. While we did not receive the full investment we asked for, we were able to successfully advocate for 400 more program openings. Although we would eventually like ERDC to serve all eligible families, we are happy that more families will be able to use this program right away to seize job opportunities and enroll their children in quality care.
In addition, families currently eligible for ERDC will soon be able to receive child care assistance for the time they are in school. Previously, working parents enrolled in school could only receive child care assistance during working hours, but not during school hours.
A bill that would give kids more food options when they are out of school passed with unanimous support. The summer food program bill, House Bill 4090, will expand the use of state after-school food program mini-grants to include summer meal programs, so that more nutrition programs are available for children during summer break.
Despite gaining the support of the Senate health committee, the Toxics Disclosure for Healthy Kids Act lacked the necessary support to move on to a floor vote. The bill would have required manufacturers to disclose the presence of harmful toxins in children’s products. It would have also required manufacturers to begin phasing out the use of harmful chemicals and replace them with safer alternatives. Proponents plan to bring this bill back in 2015 legislative session.
Children First will continue to advocate for policies and investments that give our children opportunities to thrive and that give families pathways to security during periods of hardship.
Thank you to all of you who participated in our action opportunities this session and wrote your legislators in support of ERDC. We couldn’t do this work without you.