Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Budget Priorities for FY 2024

Contact House & Senate Leadership and Your Legislators Today!

The mission of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT is to improve the health, safety, education, economic well-being, and development of Rhode Island's children with a commitment to equity and the elimination of unacceptable disparities by race, ethnicity, disability, zip code, immigration status, neighborhood, and income. Rhode Island KIDS COUNT engages in information-based advocacy to achieve equitable public policies and programs for the improvement of children’s lives. 

Throughout this session, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT has been advocating for budget priorities for FY 2024 that advance this mission. We are now in the final weeks of the session. Now is the time to contact your legislators and House and Senate leadership to ensure that these important items are included in the budget.

Call or email your own State Representative/Senator. Visit vote.ri.gov to find your State Representative/Senator. You can also make a call or send an e-mail to Speaker Shekarchi’s office Rep-Shekarchi@rilegislature.gov (401-222-2447) and President Ruggerio’s office Sen-Ruggerio@rilegislature.gov (401-222-6655) to tell them you support these priorities.

Economic Well-Being

  • End deep child poverty: Improve the RI Works Program by updating the cash assistance benefit annually to ensure children do not live in deep poverty, repealing the full family sanction, allowing pregnant women to receive support earlier, and restoring eligibility to legal permanent residents. (Handy H-5644 / Murray S-227) *Raising RI Coalition & *RIght from the Start Campaign
  • Provide healthy school meals for all: Ensure that breakfast and lunch are offered to all public school students for free, regardless of their household income, as part of the school day. Ensure that all federal funds are leveraged to support this program and then provide adequate state funds to pay remaining costs (estimated cost is $35 million). (Caldwell H-5639/ Cano S-0068, Tanzi H-6007, & Acosta S-0071)
  • Improve RI Paid Family Leave: Increase the wage replacement level so all parents, and especially lower wage-earning parents, can have adequate income to stay home and care for newborns, adoptive, and foster children. Expand the number of weeks offered to families to meet national standards -- at least 12 weeks for each parent. (Kazarian H-5781 / Lawson S-139 & Diaz H-5447 / Miller S-0534) *RIght from the Start Campaign


  • Stabilize young children’s health: Ensure babies and young children with Medicaid/RIte Care insurance have consistent access to preventive, specialized, and emergency health care by adopting continuous Medicaid eligibility for all children under age 6. (Slater H-5986 / Lauria S-247) *RIght from the Start Campaign
  • Replace all lead pipes: require that a plan is put in place to replace all lead pipes in Rhode Island within 10 years and ensure that the replacement process is free and prioritizes low-income communities. (O’Brien H-5007 / Ruggerio S-0003, Morales H-5318)


Child Welfare

  • Provide financial support to youth aging out of foster care: to support higher education and the housing and other financial support needed to support success. (Casimiro H-6189) (Casimiro H-5635/ DiPalma S-0780)


Early Learning and Development

  • Affordable, reliable, high-quality child care: Restore $48 million in state funding and use the $4 million in new federal funding to pass the RI Child Care is Essential Act so that all families at or below the State Median Income can receive help paying for child care, all provider rates for the RI Child Care Assistance Program meet or exceed federal standards, and the outdated and inequitable child support enforcement requirement is removed. (Diaz H-5193/ Cano S-522) *RIght from the Start Campaign
  • Prevent permanent closure of any RI Pre-K, Head Start, or Early Head Start classrooms: Restore and provide $6.5 million in state funding for Head Start and Early Head Start programs statewide while also investing $7 million to sustain the RI Pre-K program. (McNamara H-6009 / Gallo S-463 & Governor’s Budget Proposal H-5200 *RIght from the Start Campaign
  • Invest in the First Connections family home visiting program: Make the long-needed rate increase permanent for the Rhode Island First Connections newborn home visiting program to prevent program collapse. Develop a plan to sustain and expand voluntary family home visiting services, including meeting the new state funding requirements, so that high-quality programs are offered to all families who could benefit.  (Giraldo H-5810 / Valverde S-207) *RIght from the Start Campaign
  • Establish goals and invest to recruit and retain skilled early educators: Pass the RI Early Educator Investment Act to establish statewide compensation goals for early educators, fund the Child Care WAGE$ pilot program to increase compensation and reduce turnover among skilled child care educators, and establish the RI educator registry in statute. Pass the Child Care for Child Care Educators bill to implement Kentucky’s strategy to recruit and retain child care educators by providing free child care for all child care educators. (Casimiro H-5094 / Cano S-492 & Diaz H-6169 / DiMario S-377) *RIght from the Start Campaign
  • Recruit and retain Early Intervention professionals by helping with student debt repayment: sets aside up to 10 Wavemaker Fellowships for Speech Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, and Physical Therapists working in Early Intervention, with priority for bilingual professionals. (Giraldo H-5983 / Gallo S-523) *RIght from the Start Campaign



  • Address RI’s child mental health crisis: Increase the number of school social workers and school psychologists by expanding eligibility for Medicaid reimbursements to include school social workers and school psychologists and establishing state support for school-based mental health services. (Kazarian H-5396/ Sosnowski S-0258, McNamara H-5010)
  • Improve the school funding formula: Increase funding for Multilingual Learners and high-cost special education, create a new component of the funding formula to support students experiencing homelessness, and revisit the weight for low-income students. (Governor’s Budget Proposal H-5200)
  • Invest in out-of-school time: Expand access to high-quality afterschool, summer, and workforce development programs and build and sustain an effective out-of-school time workforce. (Casimiro H-5520/ Cano S-0987 & Governor’s Budget Proposal H-5200)
  • Improve college access and completion: Establish the Rhode Island Hope Scholarship, providing qualified high school students with two years of free tuition and fees at Rhode Island College. (Governor’s Budget Proposal H-5200)



  • Advance equitable policies: Require the Governor’s budget to include an Equity Impact Statement to address what impact the legislation will have on Rhode Island residents based on race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age or country of ancestral origin to help increase equity and decrease disparities. (Cortvriend H-6110/ Acosta S-0527)
  • Raise more state general revenue: Pass the Revenue for Rhode Island Act, a fair share tax strategy, which will bring in much-needed revenue to invest in K-12 education, child care and early learning programs, and transportation infrastructure to help get more people to work. (Alzate H-6148, Murray S-232) *RIght from the Start Campaign

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT is a statewide children’s policy organization that works to improve the health, economic well-being, safety, education, and development of Rhode Island children with a core focus on equity. | www.rikidscount.org

* RIght from the Start is a legislative and budget campaign to advance state policies for young children and their families in Rhode Island.

* The Raising RI Coalition is composed of 60 advocacy, faith, health care and social service organizations dedicated to lifting children out of poverty by increasing the RI Works benefit and to breaking the cycle of poverty by providing parents with education and training opportunities leading to well-paying, secure jobs..

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