To Friends of Children

From Helen Blank and Nicole Oxendine Poersch CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND

Date April 3 1998

Re Updates and Action Needed

Senate Budget Resolution

Important progress was made on child care this week. On Tuesday the Senate voted 50 to 48 in favor of an amendment that would have created a reserve fund for an increase in mandatory funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Unfortunately 60 votes are needed to amend a budget resolution so the amendment lost despite the majority vote. The amendment was sponsored by Senators Dodd (CT) Murray (WA) Kerry (MA) Daschle (SD) Kennedy (MA)Lautenberg (NJ) Landrieu (LA) Durbin (IL) Wellstone (MN) Kohl (WI) and Harkin (IA). It was supported on the floor by all Democratic Members (except Sen. Mikulski (MD) who was absent) as well as six Republicans -- Senators Specter (PA) Jeffords (VT) Campbell (CO) D'Amato (NY) Faircloth (NC) and Cochran (MS).

Where does this leave us?

Despite our loss on the amendment a major increase in mandatory funding for the CCDBG is still possible if we win support from the Administration and Congress as they consider legislation later in the year. Nonetheless this vote was an important part of our campaign efforts. It forced Senators to take a clear position on increased mandatory funding for child care. There is good news -- a majority of Senators support an increase in mandatory spending for the CCDBG. It is important now to thank the Senators who supported us and ask the othersto rethink their positions.

If your Senator(s) voted yes on the child care reserve fund amendment please call to thank them and encourage their continued leadership in ensuring that we get a $20 billion increase (over 5 years) in mandatory funding for the CDBG. If your Senator voted no on the child care reserve fund amendment please call their office and ask to set up a meeting with the Senator to discuss the child care needs in your state. Ask the Senator to visit a child care program in your community. Explain what an increase in mandatory CCDBG funding means to your state. Members will be home April 6 through the April 19th for the Easter recess. Please use this time wisely! (See 'They Claim They Aren't Hearing From You ' below.)

Senator McCain's Tobacco Bill

The Senate Commerce Committee considered a tobacco bill sponsored by Senator McCain (R-AZ) this week which is likely to be the major tobacco proposal considered by the Senate. The bill would raise tobacco taxes by $1.10 but does not contain binding language on how the funds would be spent. However it does include non-binding language (or a 'Sense of the Senate ') that lists priorit ies for spending the funds. Child care is listed as one of these priorities. They Claim That They Are Not Hearing From You! Somehow -- despite these recent successes -- we are being told by friends and others in Congress that they are not hearing from constituents about a pressing need for child care. How can this be? We need to reverse this impression!

During the recess please FLOOD the home offices of your Senators and Representative with calls from parents providers grandparents friends and more. April is the Month of the Young Child -- let them hear it! America needs quality child care now!!!

Easter Recess Activity Is Very Important

We have put together a list of activities to choose from to assist you in planning for this critical recess. The most important goal of the recess is to let Members hear first-hand from their constituents that child care is important! The staff at the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) can assist you in organizing these events and can provide additional contacts of advocates in your state who want to work on child care or who are already organizing activities and help you link up with other constituency groups in your state. Step-by-step guides each of these activities are available from CDF.

Visit Your Senator or Representative. This recess provides a perfect opportunity to schedule a meeting with your Members of Congress. Contact your Member's local office to determine if he/she will be home over recess. Send a request for a meeting in writing. Organize a diverse group of organizations and individuals who care about child care to participate in the visit. If possible include a well-known member of the community or personal friend of the Member. This will increase your chances of getting a meeting.

Invite Members to a child care site. Meeting your Member face-to-face is even more effective if it involves young children in child care settings and members of the press. For example you can invite your Member of Congress to breakfast with the children at your child care site. The Member will likely invite the media to publicize the visit. Take an opportunity to ask the Member que stions about his/her position on child care and the link between tobacco legislation and funding for child care.

Announce your own Child Care Now! coalition at a press conference.

Another effective way to get the attention of your Member is to generate coverage of child care in newspapers and on television. CDF can help you with this. CDF has prepared materials to use to announce the Child Care Now! campaign in your community. This package includes a Public Service Announcement a series of po sters two print ads and Child Care Now! buttons and stickers.

Place an opinion-editorial.

A sample op-ed is available from CDF. This op-ed can be tailored to your state using many state-specific facts available and modified according to the person signing the piece. The op-ed can be signed by the head of a child care organization a prominent member of the community a local expert on child care or child development or a parent who uses child care.

Participate in Member's public events.

Call your Member's office to get a listing of public events planned for the recess. A number of Members plan to hold town meetings during the recess. Members' events will usually be listed in the local paper. Go to these events or ask others to attend and ask questions about child care and pass out materials to bring attention to child care.

Please think about which activity makes the most sense for your organization your Members of Congress and your community. Again we hope to link advocates together in states to support each others' work. If you are interested in planning one of these activities check in with CDF to see what is already being planned.