Advocacy is one Children’s Friends’ five principles. We define advocacy as “taking a leadership role in educating policymakers and the public on the needs of the youngest and most vulnerable children and their families.” In 2023, we hope to deepen the public and policymakers understanding of the programs that impact families and their children. We will proactively advocate for legislation, including the state budget, that will improve outcomes for children.

This year, Children’s Friend is prioritizing advocacy around substantial and sustainable investments in First Connections, Head Start and the Child Care Assistance program.

  • RI Child Care is Essential Act: (H5193 Diaz/S522 Cano): This legislation will restore $48 million in state funding and use $4 million in new federal funding to ensure that all families at or below the State Median Income can receive help paying for child care; all provider rates for the RI Child Care Assistance Program meet or exceed federal standards; and the outdated and inequitable child support enforcement requirement is removed. View the Fact Sheet.
  • Prevent permanent closure of any RI Pre-K, Head Start, or Early Head Start classrooms (H6009 McNamara/S463 Gallo & Governor’s Budget Proposal): Legislation will restore and provide state funding for Head Start and Early Head Start programs statewide while also investing $7 million to sustain the RI Pre-K program. It will also increase teaching staff wages to match similarly qualified K-12 teacher wages. View the Fact Sheet.
  • Invest in the First Connections family home visiting program (H5810 Giraldo/ S207 Valverde): Legislation will make the long-needed (22 years!) rate increase permanent for the Rhode Island First Connections newborn home visiting program to prevent program collapse. This bill will also develop a plan to sustain and expand voluntary family home visiting services, including meeting the new state funding requirements, so that high-quality programs are offered to all families who could benefit. View the Fact Sheet.
  • RI Early Educator Investment Act (H5094 Casimiro/S492 Cano & H6169 Diaz/S377 DiMario):  Legislation will establish statewide compensation goals for early educators; fund the Child Care WAGE$ pilot program to increase compensation for skilled child care educators; and implement Kentucky’s strategy to recruit and retain child care educators by providing free child care for all child care educators. The workforce that supports young children’s early learning and development is made up almost exclusively of women (and disproportionately women of color) and has among the lowest wages in the state. View the Fact Sheet.
  • Invest in Early Intervention The Early Intervention program (EI), which provides screening and supports for children aged 0-3 with developmental delays saw a rate increase last year, but rates are still significantly lower than the amounts needed to sustain the program long term. Legislation will be introduced to increase these rates so the program can continue. EI providers also struggle to hire and retain the needed specialists – speech language pathologists, occupational therapist and physical therapists — to work with the children in the program. Legislation (H5983 Giraldo/S523 Gallo) will specify that 10 of the Wavemaker loan forgiveness awards will go to professionals in these fields who stay in their EI program for a period of time. View testimony.
  • Home and Community Based Providers Rate Increase (H5987 Casimiro / S782 DiPalma): Legislation would increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for human service programs by 10%. These rate increases would attempt to address the human services staffing crisis by ensuring a permanent rate increase in programs such as Early Intervention and Project Connect. View the Fact Sheet.

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For more information, please contact Rachel Flum at

2023 Testimony