The $9.6 billion FY19 state budget offers a number of wins for children in Rhode Island. Here is a round up of some of the budget highlights that relate to children:
Education and schools
- A record investment in K-12 education, including continued funding to support all-day kindergarten in every community.
- $1.1 million for public Pre-K classrooms. The number of these classrooms has tripled since Governor Gina Raimondo came into office.
- Puts on the November ballot, as Question One, a $250 million bond to fix the state’s school buildings, which have fallen into disrepair, with some being dangerous.
- $500,000 for dual and concurrent enrollment so high school students can earn college credit for free while still in high school.
- Continues funding to support the CS4RI initiative, which brought computer science classes into every public school.
- $250,000 in additional funding to support English Language Learners who are in the most intensive programs.
- $6 million to continue tuition-free access to the Community College of Rhode Island for every RI high school graduate.
Job training for young people
- Makes the Real Jobs Rhode Island training program permanent with $1.1 million for the program. Since it was created in 2015, Real Jobs has helped connect more than 3,000 Rhode Islanders with job training and skills training they need to compete for the jobs companies are creating, according to a press release from the Governor’s office.
- $4 million to support the creation of the Northern Rhode Island Higher Education Center. The Center, to be located in Woonsocket, will replicate the success of the Westerly Higher Education Center that Governor Raimondo established in 2016. The new Center will help Rhode Islanders get jobs that employers are creating in northern Rhode Island and the Blackstone Valley.
- Continues the Wavemaker Fellowship program that has helped more than 425 STEM graduates stay in Rhode Island after graduation, according to the Governor’s press release. In 2017, the State Science & Technology Institute heralded the Wavemaker Fellowship as the nation’s “Most Promising Initiative.”
Childcare for low-income, working parents
- Creates a new tiered reimbursement model for state-paid child care providers through the Child Care Assistance Program, which will reward providers for achieving certain BrightStars quality standards. This is designed to improve child care in the state for low-income, working parents.
Help for disadvantaged youth
- Funding that allows young people in foster care to voluntarily remain in care until they turn 21, providing them with the opportunity to remain in stable housing while they enroll in college, participate in job training, or begin a career.
- Increases funding for the Department of Children, Youth and Families by $18.8 million, a nine percent increase compared to last year
- $1.1 million in new funding to increase reimbursements for foster families. This will be the second increase for foster families under Governor Raimondo, but previously they had not received an increase since 2001.