Over 60 advocacy organizations brought their best thinking on children’s issues together for the first time with the 2015 Children’s Agenda. When nearly two of every three concepts on the 2015 Children’s Agenda were passed or funded, the Children’s Agenda and United for Kids showed real movement could be made toward the goal of improving the well-being of Oregon’s children and their families. Here are some of the highlights from our successes during the 2015 legislative session.
- Improved reimbursements for Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) and increased the number of children and families served by ERDC.
- Redirected funds for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to improve services and avoid abrupt cut-off of supports as income from work increases.
- Removed questions about criminal history from job applications (“Ban the Box”).
- Renewed and expanded the Oregon Individual Development Account Initiative tax credit.
- Enacted Earned Sick Days.
- Renewed and combined the Working Family Child Care Tax Credit and the Child Care Contribution Tax Credit to simplify tax filings for families.
- Allocated additional funding to EHA and SHAP to prevent homelessness.
- Increased affordable housing opportunities through General Obligation Bonds and Lottery Backed Bonds.
- Promoted financial literacy by allowing foster youth to open a savings account of their own.
- Encouraged access to extracurricular activities for foster youth.
- Restricted suspensions for Pre K-5th grade students and allocated funds to support positive discipline practices and reduce disparities.
- Established a fund to provide help for low-performing school districts to better support English Language Learners.
- Extended eligibility for Oregon Opportunity Grants to students who qualify for nonresident tuition exemption.
- Created tax-free savings accounts for individuals with intellectual disabilities to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, and transportation.
- Increased funding for the Network for Quality Teaching & Learning.
- Strengthened the accreditation/review process for teacher preparation programs.
- Improved student teaching experiences for teacher preparation candidates.
- Increased access to high-quality preschool for children up to 200% of the federal poverty level through the creation of Preschool Promise.
- Reformed Gain Share and Strategic Investment Program to increase funding for educational opportunities and other critical programs for children.
- Expanded access to Career and Technical Education (CTE) opportunities with increased funding in the K-12 budget.
Health & Safety
- Expanded evidence-based home visiting programs.
- Provided access to nutritious school lunches for 30,000 children by eliminating the reduced-price co-pay.
- Expanded funding for statewide Farm to School and School Garden programs.
- Enhanced funding for School-Based Health Centers.
- Ensured pregnant women receiving medical assistance to also receive timely access to specialty dental services.
- Prohibited licensed professional mental health providers from using discredited “conversion therapy” on minors.
- Increased state investment in the Oregon Hunger Response Fund.
- Required disclosure and phase-out of toxic chemicals in children’s products.
- Required background checks for all gun sales and closed gaps that allow felons, domestic abusers, and those prone to violence to buy guns.
- Directed the Oregon Health Authority to set a value on child abuse assessments and direct insurance payers to reimburse at that level.
- Prohibited e-cigarette sales to minors and included e-cigarettes in the Indoor Clean Air Act.