Legislature Approves Funding for Early Learning Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Senator Iris Estabrook

(603)-271-2675

Iris.estabrook@leg.state.nh.us

May 24, 2006

CONCORD , NH- The Early Learning Initiative originally contained in SB 306 was approved for funding today as part of the Committee of Conference Report adopted on HB 1626. The Senate had earlier amended SB 306 onto HB 1626.

This initiative will provide assistance with the cost of licensed child care to families whose income falls between the current ceiling of 190 percent and 250 percent of poverty. Senator Iris Estabrook (D, District 21), prime sponsor of the initiative, called the passage of the measure “a win for children, a win for families, a win for child care providers, a win for business and a win for taxpayers.”

“The half million dollars funding provided for FY ’07 will enable hundreds of NH children to spend their days in licensed child care programs that will promote healthy child development,” explained Sen. Estabrook. “With the establishment of this initiative, the legislature has recognized the importance of quality environments in the early years, a time of critical development that lays the foundation for all future learning.”

Jackie Cowell, Executive Director of Early Learning NH, said the passage of this initiative will help working families keep working. “This is an unprecedented investment by the state in New Hampshire’s working families and their children,” Cowell said.

Parents in the income range targeted by this program had testified that without state assistance many have had to withdraw their children from licensed programs when their income rose above the 190 percent ceiling, which placed their children in poorer quality care. In addition, other families whose children have been in less costly, unlicensed care will now have the purchasing power to choose licensed child care.

“This is a wonderful victory for all of the working families in the state and the children served by early learning providers,” said Mary Lou Beaver of Dover Children’s Center. “It shows that elected officials see the importance of quality early learning providers for children.”

Early Learning NH, The Children’s Alliance, Child and Family Services and the Legislative Caucus for Young Children all supported this measure through to passage. Cosponsors Sen. Green, Sen. Odell, Sen. Foster, Sen. Gallus, Sen. Hassan, Sen. Martel, Sen. Fuller Clark, Rep. Pilliod, Rep. Gargasz, Rep. Gile and Rep. Wallner were also closely involved in achieving the initiative’s passage.