The 2019 Texas legislative session was an important one for Any Baby Can. Many issues that directly affect our services and clients were on the agenda for bills or funding.
Throughout session, we worked closely with Texas Council for Community Centers, Easterseals Central Texas, Texans Care for Children and many other statewide stakeholders on issues such as early intervention and home-visitation programs. Our coordinated and collaborative approach helped establish Any Baby Can as a key player, as we were called to provide data, supporting evidence and feedback on legislative issues, that affect children and families.
Two programs offered by Any Baby Can, Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) and Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), were spotlights of this session. Funding for ECI had declined dramatically over the last 10+ years but will receive additional dollars in fiscal years 2020-2021. While it was not as much as Health and Human Services requested ($72M), a much needed $31M in General Revenue and $48M in all funds was approved.
Guillermo Lopez, ECI Senior Director for Any Baby Can, and our team provided testimony and visited with legislators to discuss why early intervention works, ideas for stabilizing the program and the benefits of this investment to all Texans. One of our client families provided powerful testimony, speaking in support of increased early intervention funding after receiving ECI services through Any Baby Can.
The Department of Family and Protective Services will also receive additional dollars to support home-visiting programs. Families and children in NFP ($2.89M), which partners first-time mothers with nurses, will see benefits from this investment along with other programs including Any Baby Can’s Healthy and Fair Start ($1.45M), an in-home service that works with parents on school readiness, family stability and more.
There were many other issues affecting our work, including legislation regarding foster care, maternal mortality, mental health and Medicaid. Texans Care for Children has put together a helpful report outlining some of the victories and disappointments of the 2019 session.
There’s still a lot of work to do! Engaging with state and local government is critical to strengthening families so that children succeed.