Recent News

March 16, 2015

Bringing Strategies to Scale Through Public Policy Advocacy

Margaret Bio You have probably been hearing a lot lately from federal and state elected officials about a new focus on our youngest children. It is not a coincidence that our President, Governors and federal and state legislators are beginning to understand the importance of investing in children in the first years of life when brain development is greatest. It is not a coincidence because you, our volunteers and community leaders, have been telling them what we have learned through our private investment to be true: high-quality, early-learning programs prepare our children to succeed in school and life. In fact, they are critical to closing the achievement gap among students by race, poverty, ethnicity and geography. 

You have been hearing a lot lately from federal and state elected officials about our youngest children. It is not a coincidence that our President, Governors and federal and state legislators are beginning to understand the importance of investing in children in the first years of life when brain development is greatest. It is not a coincidence because you, our volunteers and community leaders, have been telling them what we have learned through our private investment to be true: our children need adequate health care and high-quality, early-learning programs to succeed in school and life. In fact, they are critical to closing the achievement gap among students by race, poverty, ethnicity and geography. 

This is what United Way means by taking our investments to scale. Thanks to a generous community, United Way has been investing in parent coaching and support programs and high quality child care for over a decade. We have tracked the results of these investments and have a body of research that shows us that early childhood education has significant social and economic impacts. Our donors and partners share their knowledge about what works for children with their government leaders in Frankfort, Columbus and Washington D.C. They understand that private philanthropy can only do a small part of what is needed for children and their families. They know that government is a critical decision-maker and the biggest funder of education and human services, and they want government to understand what is working. 

United Way helps craft practical long-term solutions to community conditions. With our business and community leaders we use our experience to help inform public policy decisions. Guided by a Regional Public Policy Council, which is chaired by Kay Geiger and Steve Shifman, the Board of Directors advocates for public policy solutions and system change that unite the community across partisan and ideological divides, bringing together all of our partners – including nonprofits, business, and labor – to advocate for our communities.

Public-Policy-Advocacy-Works

That public policy advocacy is making a difference. Last year, Governor Beshear restored $96 million in funding for child care for low-income children. This year, President Obama proposed more than doubling the federal investment in high-quality child care with the goal of making care available for all children under four in families making less than $40,000 for a family of three.

Just this month, Governor Kasich invested an additional $118 million to increase access to child care for low-income families. Your voices have been heard, but we are not done yet. Governor Kasich’s increased investment must be approved by both the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate.  President Obama’s proposal needs the approval of Congress. We need you to talk with your elected officials on behalf of poor families and their youngest children.

HomeVisitingWorks

In the next month, critical decisions will be made about funding for successful home visiting programs that provide coaching and support to parents of at-risk children.  We know these programs work. In Ohio, legislators will decide if low-income parents have access to high-quality programs their children need to prepare them for success in school.

You support these families with generous contributions to our campaign. You can also support them by becoming an advocate for them with government by joining the United Way public policy advocacy network to be alerted when important issues that affect early childhood education are being discussed by our local, state and Federal representatives.