Press Release: Child Advocates Celebrate a Day of Congressional Wins for Children

Voices Utah Children LogoVoices for Utah Children welcomes the news that a bipartisan agreement has been reached to prevent provisions of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit from expiring.

In particular we applaud Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who as chair of the Senate Finance Committee played a central role in brokering the compromise legislation including these critical family-friendly provisions. 

When these provisions become permanent, 115,000 low-income, working Utah families with 258,000 children will be saved from the risk of falling into poverty. For more details, see The House may put the bill to a vote tomorrow and it is expected to be approved by both houses of Congress and the president before the holiday break.

The bill also includes other hard-fought victories for at-risk, young children:
• $9.2 billion for Head Start ($570 million more than in 2015)
• $2.8 billion for Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Block Grants ($326 million more than in 2015)
• $250 million for Preschool Development Grants (level funding with 2015)

Utah is one of the states that will be eligible for funding for infrastructure and capacity to deliver high-quality preschool programs through Preschool Development Grants. These federal grants align well with the goals of Utah’s preschool legislation (HB96) that was passed during the 2014 General Session but would allow Utah to fund many more children from low-income families. 

“With this reauthorization, the money is there for the taking,” said Tess Davis, Policy Analyst for Voices for Utah Children. “We could help tens of thousands more at-risk children in Utah if we accept these federal funds.”

Another landmark, bipartisan bill benefiting Utah children was signed by President Obama last week. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaces the No Child Left Behind Act. The new law gives states flexibility to tailor their approach to evaluating schools and teachers. Under the ESSA:
• Elementary students will be tested once per year, in reading and in math;
• High school students will be given one annual test;
• Results will no longer mandate takeovers of poorly performing schools; and
• Local practices will be scrutinized for discrimination.

“Child advocates are thrilled today,” said Davis. “These bills prove that lawmakers really can work together across party lines and do the right thing for kids.”