Capitol Update: Moving ahead with home visiting, period products in schools and cost-of-living increase in Basic Cash Assistance

Written by: Riley Kitts
Date Posted: February 7, 2020

Times flies when you are having fun, and we had a blast this week at the Capitol! Let’s recap. On Monday, the Joint Budget Committee (the committee that decides state funding each year) held a public comment session. This is the second year that the JBC has held such a forum, and it is truly a great way for the public to engage and weigh in on the state’s spending priorities. Several advocates showed up to make their voices heard on early childhood, family planning, maternal mental health, transportation, state parks, you name it. Erin Miller went before the budget writers and made a strong case for why the state needs more investment for maternal depression screening and for family planning.

Then on Tuesday, it was Early Childhood Day in the House Education Committee. The committee heard four bills related to quality improvement in early childhood education settings, family, friend, and neighbor care and pathways to licensing, as well as how to support the early childhood workforce. The room was packed with early childhood advocates from across the state to see all four bills get approved. What a great day for early childhood

Riley Kits Recaps the week

We were proud to support other good policies on Wednesday and Thursday. Leslie Colwell testified in support of Senate Bill 103, a bill to make open enrollment in our public schools a more transparent and easy process for families to navigate. Thank you to Sen. Tate for bringing that bill forward. And on Thursday, Sam Espinoza spoke in favor of House Bill 1131 which will help provide period products to middle and high school students free of charge. Reps. Titone and Caraveo did a great job crafting this bill directly with impacted students. We love the youth engagement and equity focus of this legislation.

Our last big event of the week took place on Thursday with our final Lunch and Learn of the session. The topic was Fair Local Share: Creating an Equitable & Adequate Tax System to Support Public Education. We had tremendous turnout with every seat taken. It was great to see representation from so many legislative offices and advocacy organizations, and Leslie did an amazing job explaining the complex and unfair world of K-12 property taxes and what we can do to fix it. Thank you to all those who attended.

Our policy staff work hard each week to analyze bills that would impact children and families. Here are a few highlights, and you can always track all the bills on our Capitol Updates page:

Home Visiting Expansion Grant Program (Fields & Lee/ Larson & Michaelson Janet)

This bill would create a home visiting grant program to expand the number of children and families served by nationally recognized, evidence-based home visiting models throughout Colorado. Participation in these voluntary home visiting programs help improve school readiness, build parenting skills and address challenges under-resourced families face. The Children’s Campaign supports this bill because two-generation, evidence-based strategies improve children’s well-being and support parents. To read more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.

Menstrual Hygiene Products In Schools Program (Titone & Caraveo/Winter)

This bill would create a new grant program in the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to allow public schools and districts to supply their students with menstrual hygiene products, at no cost. Also, this bill would require CDPHE to award grants to schools with the greatest need. If passed, this bill would remove economic barriers for students accessing necessary health products at school and help address social stigma around menstrual hygiene. To read more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.

Cost of Living Adjustment for Basic Cash Assistance (Fields & Moreno/Coleman & Duran)

This bill would increase Basic Cash Assistance (BCA) in the TANF program to help narrow the gap created by the fact that BCA has not adjusted for cost of living since the program was created in 1996. It would also implement an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) to BCA moving forward so that the value of BCA does not continue to erode in the future. For families who are experiencing extreme poverty, living below half of the federal poverty line, BCA helps decrease the stress of making ends meet. To read more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.