RIght Start Agenda

During the COVID-19 crisis, it has become even more clear that policies and programs that help families with young children are essential for a strong economy and public health. Investments now will help our state and Rhode Island’s young children and families weather this crisis and emerge stronger on the other side.

2021 Legislative & Budget Priorities (Printable one pager)

  • Enact strong state and federal revenue policies (H-5227 / S-326) to maintain, expand and improve essential programs that are a lifeline for babies, young children, and families. We support the Revenue for Rhode Island proposal and other equitable strategies to increase state and federal resources that will help families with young children.
  • Pass the RI Child Care is Essential Act (H-5672 / S-378) to make the increased rates for the Child Care Assistance Program permanent, to promote children’s access to high-quality programs, and help providers meet minimum wage requirements. Safe, healthy, and high-quality child care options are essential for working parents and for children to learn and grow.
  • Pass the RI Early Educator Investment Act (H-5158 / S-66) to establish goals for early educator wages. Early educators, almost all of whom are women and many are people of color, are among the lowest paid workers in the state. Child care, preschool, family home visiting and Early Intervention programs struggle to recruit and retain excellent staff. We should ensure educators that have earned early childhood credentials and demonstrate effective practice are rewarded with increased wages, comparable to similarly qualified K-12 educators.
  • Improve our state’s paid family leave program (Temporary Caregivers Insurance, H-5789 / S-436) to match national benchmarks by increasing wage replacement rates and extending the number of weeks. We need to improve Rhode Island’s paid family leave policy so all parents, and especially lower-wage earning parents, can have adequate income to remain at home with newborns, adoptive, and foster children for at least 12 weeks.
  • Cover community-based doula services through Medicaid and private health insurance (H-5929 / S-484). Invest in building, supporting, and sustaining the doula workforce and infrastructure in the state as a strategy to reduce racial and economic disparities in maternal and child health outcomes.
  • Address the staffing crisis for the RI Early Intervention program and our network of voluntary Family Home Visiting programs by increasing Medicaid rates and allocating adequate state funds as a Medicaid match to reach more families.
  • Maintain full state funding and children’s access to RI Pre-K and Head Start. Both are high-quality programs that help get children on track for school success.
  • Promote maternal physical and mental health by extending Medicaid coverage for moms through 12 months postpartum (H-6075, S-430). There has been a paradigm shift in postpartum care to emphasize the need for ongoing care and follow-up after the birth of a baby to include management of the new mom’s chronic health conditions, routine care for acute illness (e.g. mastitis), and treatment of mental health conditions (prevalent during and after pregnancy and affecting both mom and baby).

RIght from the Start Campaign Steering Committee
Beautiful Beginnings
Economic Progress Institute
Head Start Association of Rhode Island
Latino Policy Institute
Rhode Island Association for Infant Mental Health
Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children
Rhode Island KIDS COUNT

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