While kids across Kentucky were waiting for Santa to deliver gifts, Congress delivered a major win for kids and families through the omnibus federal budget for fiscal year 2023.
From addressing summer hunger and child care affordability to expanding access to programs such as home visiting, this budget makes some major investments in Kentucky kids and families:
- Addresses summer hunger by creating a permanent Summer EBT program and loosens the congregate feeding requirements for meals served through the Summer Food Service Program.
- Invests in pregnant women and moms, infants, and toddlers through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) by permanently increasing fruit and vegetable benefits and updating the food package.
- Increases funds for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program for the first time. This increase, as well as the continuation of remote visits, will support the workforce and expand access to home-visiting programs throughout the state
- Includes provisions that expand health care access by ensuring 12 months of continuous eligibility for children on Medicaid and KCHIP.
- Outlines investments that support the mental health needs of our youth through training grants to expand the pediatric behavioral health workforce and support for states to achieve parity for mental health care.
- Invests significantly in child care and early education programs with $2.8 billion being invested in programs ranging from the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to Head Start to IDEA grants.
- Invests significantly in housing programs with the creation of an additional 12,000 Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and increase in funding for the Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
- Invests significantly in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to address youth behaviors in a way that treats kids as kids.
Investments made in this budget will increase access to crucial programs, support families’ engagement in the workforce, and overall improve child outcomes. However, there are still investments that need to be made in the next Congress if we truly want to make Kentucky the best place to be a kid. For instance:
- Expand the Community Eligibility Provision threshold to 25% to ensure kids have access to two meals a day and schools can focus on feeding kids instead of lengthy, bureaucratic paperwork.
- Increase the reimbursement rates for the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program to help schools, child care centers, and nonprofits cope with record high inflation.
- Modernize the WIC program by making remote appointments permanent and allowing e-WIC benefits to be used online.
- Reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to strengthen Kentucky’s child care infrastructure and increase affordability so families can find and afford the child care needed to remain in and re-enter into the workforce.
- Support state Medicaid agencies as they work to unwind COVID-19 related continuous eligibility provisions in a way that minimizes the impact on individuals and families and ensures health coverage is not lost or interrupted for eligible enrollees.
- Reauthorize the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to ensure funding is adequate to support program operations, as well as improve data collection and attorney representation requirements.
- Smooth the benefits cliff for working, low-income families by strengthening and expanding tax credits, such as the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit.
This budget makes some incredible wins for Kentucky families, and we thank Senator McConnell and Representative Yarmuth for their work and leadership in seeing this federal omnibus budget come together. As we head into a new Congress this January, Kentucky kids and families are counting on Washington to deliver even more wins.