Not On the Backs of Our Children
On July 21 and 22, more than 200 business and civic executives from across the country will come to Boston for the 2011 National Business Leader Summit on Early Childhood Investment. These business leaders will convene to discuss the critical role early childhood policies play in promoting states' short- and long-term economic vitality, new research on the economic development benefits of early childhood investments, and continued advocacy efforts on the part of business leaders in the face of budget cuts in many states. As Summit host, United Way of Massachusetts and Merrimack Valley, in partnership with the Partnership for America's Economic Success, a project of the Pew Center on the States, will bring you early childhood policy stories from throughout the country.
Early childhood programs face many challenges. As proven programs can help improve economies and benefit entire communities they are rarely safe from budget cuts.
In January of 2011, Colorado's new Governor faced a budget that he was required to balance but due to legislative constraints on funding priorities, there were very few options for cuts. At Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC) in Denver we realized the need to quickly mobilize our state's business leaders to ensure that the Governor did not balance the budget by slashing funding for early childhood programs.
Under EPIC's direction, Colorado's business leaders took a hands-on approach to advocating. They sent a letter to the Governor requesting that the budget not be balanced on the backs of young children. Several EPIC members reached out personally to the Governor and, in the end, the state budget preserved funding for these valuable programs, including Colorado's pre-school program.
Colorado's Child Care Contribution Credit, a 50 percent tax credit that businesses and individuals could receive for contributing funds to child care programs, was also directly tied to the state's budget. A six percent budgetary trigger that negatively impacted this beneficial credit was successfully removed by EPIC in partnership with numerous other child advocacy groups. In the past, the trigger was activated when state expenditures grew by more than six percent. Businesses awaiting their tax credit from the previous year would have the credit deferred whenever the budgetary trigger was activated. EPIC commissioned an impact study that demonstrated the impact of the tax credit, sent letters to the Governor, and testified in a legislative committee in support of the contribution credit.
EPIC, a relatively young organization founded a year and a half ago, has had a direct impact on preserving proven early childhood programs and continues to successfully recruit business leaders to advocate for investment in early childhood programs. For crucial information on corporate leaders' roles in early childhood education please download our online toolkit, "How Employers Can Take Active Role in Supporting Families." This toolkit can be found at http://www.epicemployertoolkit.org/main.html
Executives Partnering to Invest in Children
Share your state's story with us, what tactics did you use to push for early childhood investments in your state, and how did you recruit business leaders to join you in your efforts?