Neighborhood House staff with other organizations advocating for refugee rights at the State Capital in Olympia, WA
Happy New Year! As we embark on 2024, strengthening our programs, serving our 13,000 clients and community members, and supporting our 350 staff members are our top priorities. Policies and policy makers at the federal, state, and local levels have significant influence on our success.
Soon, Congress will be debating the budget, which they were unable to pass last October. In their latest version, the House of Representatives proposed a 6% budget reduction for Head Start. At the same time, the Office of Head Start issued proposed changes to the Head Start Performance Standards mandating higher wages for Head Start staff, mental health support, and expanded eligibility. This month, Million and I will be travelling to Washington, DC to attend the National Head Start Association Leadership Institute where we will sharpen our advocacy skills and meet with Members of Congress from Washington to strengthen our relationship and convey the importance of our work.
Congresswoman Jayapal (3rd from left) on a recent visit to our High Point location.
At Head Start/ECEAP Advocacy Day in Olympia, with Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (far right)
In Olympia, we are working as a coalition with other advocacy groups to increase access to early learning, invest in youth development programs, secure a state match of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), and create equitable housing opportunities for all. After successfully advocating to pass legislation decriminalizing youth nicotine possession in 2023, the SE PEACE Coalition sponsored by Neighborhood House will be working to ban flavored nicotine products which target children.
One dire need of investment is youth development. Youth development is an investment in economic development, health and wellbeing, and public safety. We are members of the Youth Development Strategy Table that is advocating for the creation of a Youth Department at the state level and $5 million to support youth programs. Last year, 10 young people wrote testimonials in support of state funding for our work.
“I have been going to (Neighborhood House’s Youth Tutoring Program) since I was going into 5th grade and now I am an 11th grader… It helped me find ways to be creative with activities and learn to have lots of fun. It created a safe space for me where I could communicate with others but also the adults.” – Jasmine
At City Hall with Former Council Member Lisa Herbold (2nd from right) and SHSC leaders
Our Raising Wages for Changing Lives campaign was successful in not only securing a 7.5% cost of living adjustment and 2% equity adjustment in City of Seattle Human Services contracts, it’s also elevated the conversation about equitable wages with public and private funders at the local and state levels. We look forward to continuing to work with the Seattle Human Services Coalition (SHSC) to educate the new Seattle City Council members and other elected officials on the inequity of wages in human services
Thank you for all your work to help our community thrive. As we look forward to 2024, Neighborhood House continues our commitment to building community and increasing access to housing, health, education, and economic opportunity through direct services and advocating for policies that benefit our diverse communities. You can help – check out our 2024 legislative agenda, and sign up for our newsletter alerts.
Janice Deguchi, Executive Director