Weekly Update
February 19, 2021
Making child advocacy a virtual reality
For several years now, Aligned has been honored to serve on the Child Advocacy Day (CAD) steering committee. Through Kids Win Missouri's leadership, this annual event attracts citizens and community organizations from across the state to Jefferson City for a day of outreach and education

Last year, CAD was weeks from the kick-off at the Capitol when COVID-19 forced planners to move all the workshops and speakers online. Session attendance soared, and the team learned a new way to advocate. 

While we anticipate the day when this event moves back under the dome, the CAD team has assembled another virtual and valuable advocacy day for stakeholders. So far, 545 attendees have registered.

Missouri's Child Advocacy Day(s) will be held March 8-12, 2021.

Register here.

The workshop lineup this year includes:
  • Advocating from a Distance - Virtual Advocacy 101
  • Kids Win Missouri Weekly Legislative Call + Child Advocacy Day Hot Topics
  • Keeping Missouri's Youth Learning: School-Based Health During COVID-19
  • Kids Health Coverage: Medicaid Expansion & Other Developments
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Recent Developments
  • 2021 Child Advocacy Day Rally
  • Updates from State Departments Serving Children and Families
  • Serving Missouri's Kids and Families during COVID-19
  • Diversity & Inclusion in Children's Advocacy Efforts
  • Children's Issues in the Budget
  • Responding to Children's Mental Health & Trauma During COVID-19
For more information, contact Casey Hanson at chanson@kidswinmissouri.org
Photo Credit: Missouri Capitol Police
Missouri News
Aligned Priorities

The snow week made for a slow week. No movement on our priorities but we expect action to pick back up starting Monday. However, we monitored several bills heard in House Elementary and Secondary Education on Wednesday. Click here for our notes.

Aligned Priority Tracking Report
General Legislative Update

Here are a few toplines from activity under both the federal and state domes this week.

General Education Update

Workforce Diploma Program

The House Workforce Development Committee heard HB 733 (Patterson), which establishes the "Workforce Diploma Program" within the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. This bill creates a framework for adult diploma attainment

The Graduation Alliance, MO Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Missouri, and MOST Policy Initiative provided supporting testimony.  No opposing testimony was provided. 
Career and Technical Certificates

The House Workforce Development Committee heard HB 896 (Black), which requires the State Board of Education to develop a statewide plan establishing the minimum requirements for a Career and Technical Education Certificate

The MO Council on Career & Technical Education, MO Association of Career & Business Educators, and MO Chamber of Commerce provided supporting testimony. No opposing testimony was presented during the hearing. 

Children's Savings Accounts

The House Emerging Issues Committee heard HB 627 (Patterson) , which changes the name of the "Missouri Education Savings Program" to the "Missouri Education Program" and provides parents of any Missouri resident "qualified children", born or adopted after January 1, 2021, a scholarship grant of $100 to be deposited in a savings account known as the "Missouri Education Savings Program". 

Parents As Teachers, Kids Win Missouri, and Children's Trust Fund provided supporting testimony. Aligned submitted written testimony in support. No opposing testimony was presented during the hearing. 

Missouri Capitol Report & Education Update for the week of February 15th.

Budget Update

The House Budget Committee continued to receive presentations of the departmental budget requests this week. Today they heard from the Department of Mental Health and Health and Senior Services. Once the this process is complete, the committee will began to deliberate changes to the Governor's budget. 
Kansas News

Legislative Update 

Workforce Barriers for Women 

As the pandemic nears the one-year mark, we continue to hear the struggles from employers looking to fill open positions. Simultaneously, we hear from parents struggling to access childcare, specifically mothers, who often face work-related challenges due to the cost and lack of access to childcare. As it stands, when Kansans apply for state assistance, specifically SNAP food nutrition assistance and childcare subsidy, they must check a box saying they will cooperate with the Division of Children and Families on child support enforcement.

This rule means parents must be willing to pursue child support through the courts actively. Several years ago, this requirement was added as part of the Kansas "HOPE Act", though it is not a federal requirement for SNAP or childcare subsidy.
Our partner organizations have learned that this requirement negatively and disproportionately impacts women by creating the potential for contact with a former abusive partner or a partner who has never had a connection to their child.
The pandemic-related recession has also disproportionately impacted women, who typically leave the workforce to care for children, which makes this policy particularly burdensome

Kansas law requires that anyone receiving childcare subsidy must work a minimum of 20 hours per week, with some exceptions. For adults pursuing postsecondary education, Kansas law requires that they work a minimum of 15 hours per week to receive childcare subsidy, which is capped at a 24-month lifetime limit, another restriction not in place for federal childcare subsidy. Studies have shown that adult students with children often need 50% more time to complete their degrees, particularly when working simultaneously-which means even an associate degree is not always completed in 24 months.

Child advocates across the state have worked to create HB 2371 to do the following:
  • Remove child support requirements for childcare subsidy and food assistance (SNAP) eligibility; 
  • Exempt adult students enrolled in a public or private elementary or secondary school or postsecondary educational institution from the work requirements for childcare subsidy;
  • Remove all requirements imposed on adults pursing postsecondary education for childcare assistance, most notably the 24-month lifetime limit and the restrictions on both caregivers participating in school.
The childcare subsidy components of this bill are critical to workforce development. When struggling Kansans can access the subsidy, they can send their children to quality childcare, maintain work and complete their education, improving that path towards for self-sufficiency.

HB 2371 will be heard Monday in the Committee on Children and Seniors at 1:30 p.m.  

Aligned supports this bill as it offers our most vulnerable children access to food and childcare while their parents work or complete their education. 

Read our testimony for HB 2371  and feel free to email your PDF testimony to Fran.Lusk@house.ks.gov no later than 10:00 a.m. on Monday, February 22.

Kansas Promise Scholarship Act 

The Committee on Commerce, Labor, and Economic Development heard HB 2287 this week. The bill establishes the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act to provide scholarships to students who attend postsecondary educational programs that correspond to high-need career fields. 

Like its sister bill, SB 43, HB 2287 directs the Kansas Board of Regents and Department of Commerce to identify up to 10 fields with the highest demand for skilled workers and requires recipients to perform community service while enrolled in the qualified programs. 

Aligned testified in support along with the KC Civic Council, Kansas Board of RegentsOverland Park Chamber, Kansas Association of School Boards, Johnson County Community College, Wichita Chamber, Kansas Technical College, Cowley College, and others. There was no opposition.

Upcoming hearings

House Commerce, Labor, and Economic Development Committee
Monday at 1:30 p.m. 
  • HB 2351 - provides liability protection for businesses, municipalities, and educational institutions that participate in high school work-based learning programs, and outlines that schools are responsible for the students' liability in such programs. 

This bill is an Aligned priorityAligned submitted written testimony in supportWe encourage others to do the same by emailing a PDF to 
Cindy.Harris@house.ks.gov by 10 a.m. on Monday.

House Education Committee
Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.
  • HB 2301 - requires school districts to count financial literacy classes as a math requirement. 
Senate Education Committee
Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
  • SB 208 - prohibits transgender students from participating on women's teams.
  • SB 235 - requires all school districts in Kansas to provide an in-person option no later than March 26.
Let's Bounce

Aligned is proud to be part of the America Succeeds network. To learn more about how all the affiliates fared in 2020 and the tremendous work America Succeeds does on behalf of students and the business community, check out the organization's 2020 Annual Report and a special report, "Bouncing Back: Student Centered Policy Priorities for 2021".

"The push from education stakeholders will largely center on 'bouncing back' by addressing foundational needs like providing more services with (likely) fewer resources, keeping track of kids' attendance and physical well-being, supporting teachers and parent-teachers with remote instruction, and solving basic childcare issues. Of course, we cannot forget that all of this is happening in the midst of a generational fight to address the inequity that is a result of broader societal systemic racism."

We always say stay safe and stay warm...this time we really mean it.

All the best,

Torree Pederson
(913) 484-4202

Linda Rallo
(314) 330-8442