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Showing blog entries tagged as: Kids Count


Brief: Set kids up for success from early learning through higher education

Posted by Julie Watts at Jul 10, 2018 05:10 PM |

In recent years, Washington state has made important strides in investing in public education and early learning. In the coming years, these changes will be put to a crucial test: Will they help children, especially children of color, surmount the barriers to quality K-12 learning and lifelong achievement?

For KIDS COUNT in Washington’s new “Ensuring All Kids Have an Opportunity to Succeed” brief (a part of the State of Washington Kids 2018 series), we asked local education leader Matt Charlton, superintendent of Manson School District, “What would it take to make sure all kids have a path to success in life?” 

Thanks to local voter levies and to the state’s Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP), which provides high-quality preschool to kids with very low incomes, the Manson School District offers free preschool to every four-year-old residing within its boundaries. Charlton said his district looked at the data to make this decision. And he said that quality pre-kindergarten was the single best investment the school district could make “in terms of readying children for kindergarten and overcoming language and poverty barriers.”

All kids should get off to a strong start in school. Yet in Washington, kids of color face the greatest barriers to kindergarten readiness. Far too many families cannot afford high quality early learning, especially programs that have a track record in addressing racial disparities.

Click on image to enlarge.

Many kids of color face the greatest barriers to a strong start in school

Fortunately, our state has powerful tools for removing barriers to kindergarten readiness through ECEAP and robust quality standards in child care. Recent analysis by KIDS COUNT in Washington found that additional investments in ECEAP to serve more kids would dramatically reduce disparities in kindergarten readiness for kids of color.

Kids also need to be able to stay strong through elementary and middle school and finish strong through graduation and post-secondary enrollment. Yet, kids of color face the greatest barriers to success there, too. 

Racial disparities persist in our education system because of systemic racism, including factors like inequitable funding between low-income and high-income schools, housing instability and racially disproportionate disciplinary practices. 

For example, an extensive body of research shows that systemic barriers like living in poverty and having low socioeconomic status are leading predictors of whether or not kids graduate on time. Kids of color face the greatest barriers to on-time graduation. American Indian, Pacific Islander, Black, Latinx, and mixed race students are two to three times more likely to live in poverty in Washington state than their white and Asian counterparts.

More public investments are needed to address these kinds of disparities. While recent investments in public education and early learning are an important step, more needs to be done to address racial disparities in education and to ensure all kids, especially kids of color, have a path to success in school and life. State lawmakers, parents, educators and administrators should consider supporting the following steps to boost success of children in school and in life: 

  • Expand the reach and flexibility of the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program and invest in affordable access to quality child care, including investing in family, friend, and neighbor care.
  • Expand the state need grant, which provides tuition assistance to all students with a household income below 70 percent of state median income, so all income-eligible students have an affordable path to a degree or certificate. 
  • Invest in local communities and school districts that are designing programs and policy solutions that remove barriers for students of color to thrive in school, including investing in school board trainings on race and racial equity, ensuring parents of color are included in the hiring of leadership staff and principal leaders, and taking other important steps to create accountability and make progress toward more equitable outcomes for students of color.

Ensuring All Kids Have the Opportunity to Succeed” is the third release in the State of Washington’s Kids 2018 series.

KCinWA

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KIDS COUNT: Inaccurate census data could jeopardize progress for Washington’s kids

Posted by Melinda Young-Flynn at Jun 27, 2018 09:50 AM |
 
Nearly 1 in 6 Washington children under age 5 live in neighborhoods where there’s a high risk that the U.S. census will fail to count them accurately, says a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. An inaccurate 2020 census will erode essential public services for children in Washington and across the country, according to the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book released today.


Funding for essential health care, early education and K-12 learning, and other basic services depend on an accurate count of our communities. In Washington state, more than $3 billion in federal dollars are allocated yearly to Medicaid, food assistance, Head Start and other programs that help families meet basic needs. 

KIDS COUNT 2018 Data Book

Low-income children, children of color and children living in immigrant households are at greatest risk of being undercounted. The census may also miss children growing up in rural areas, tribal lands or in urban neighborhoods where census workers may have a hard time reaching households.

Further, the Trump administration’s proposed addition of an unnecessary question about citizenship will discourage countless others from filling out the 2020 census form. People without documentation and their families will be afraid that participation will result in having their lives, their families or their communities torn apart by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

“To give kids the full and equal opportunities to grow and thrive so they can be counted on in the future, we need to count them now,” said Paola Maranan, executive director of the Children’s Alliance. “Without robust efforts to get an accurate 2020 census, we place our shared future in jeopardy.”

In Washington state, an estimated 67,000 of the state’s 447,000 children under age 5 live in census tracts where households responded poorly by mail to the 2010 census—and may do so again in 2020. 

The Data Book notes that the threat of greater inaccuracies in the census coincides with the child population passing a landmark: in 2020, most of the U.S. population aged 18 and under will be of color.

“Low-income children, children of color and kids living in immigrant families stand to be disproportionately undercounted, while also having the most to lose as vital programs are sapped of public investment,” said Misha Werschkul, executive director of the Washington State Budget & Policy Center.

The annual KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks each state across four domains of child well-being: health; education; economic well-being; and family and community.

Washington state, which ranked 15th among the 50 states overall, ranked in the top 5 for child health. The percentage of uninsured Washington children fell by half from 2010 to 2016, from 6 to 3 percent. This progress is partially due to state-level efforts to connect more children with affordable, preventive health care through Apple Health for Kids. Apple Health for Kids is supported by federal investments in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with funding allocations that depend on population estimates derived from the census.

Our state has the greatest room for improvement in the education domain, where it ranks 26th. One in 5 students don’t graduate on time, and almost 60 percent of three- and four-year-olds are not enrolled in preschool.

KIDS COUNT in Washington recommends that two things about the flawed census be changed. First, federal officials need to allocate sufficient funds to support a more accurate census in which as many people as possible can be counted. Second, the census form should be true to the purpose of the count that was originally stipulated in the U.S. Constitution: to count all people who live within U.S. borders. Questions that ask about citizenship will undermine participation—and they are simply not required.

Read the full 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book. And read the KIDS COUNT Washington state 2018 profile 

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Media Contacts: 

Melinda Young-Flynn, melinday(at)budgetandpolicy(dot)org, (206) 262-0973, x223
Adam Hyla E. Holdorf, adam(at)childrensalliance(dot)org, (206) 324-0340 ext. 18

About KIDS COUNT in Washington
KIDS COUNT in Washington is a partnership of the Children’s Alliance and the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, made possible by support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. It pursues measurable improvements in child outcomes through equitable public policy measures. For more information, visit www.kidscountwa.org

About the Annie E. Casey Foundation
The Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into healthier places to live, work and grow. Visit datacenter.kidscount.org for the most recent national, state, and local data on child well-being from the Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT Data Center. 

 

Brief: Washington state must ensure kids are on the path to a healthy life

Posted by Jennifer Tran at Apr 11, 2018 12:55 PM |
Filed under: Kids Count, Health Care, Equity

Washington state has made tremendous gains in recent years to make sure more kids and families have greater access to health insurance. In 2007, the Washington State Legislature passed the Cover All Kids law, creating affordable, comprehensive Apple Health for Kids coverage. Since then, the number of Washington children without health coverage has dropped to its lowest level on record. Yet despite reaching historically high rates of insurance coverage, racial gaps in health outcomes persist and must be addressed.

HealthyStartPhoto

For KIDS COUNT in Washington’s new “Getting All Kids Off to a Healthy Start” brief (a part of the State of Washington’s Kids 2018 series), we asked local health leader Michelle Sarju, “What would it take to make sure young kids have a healthy start?” She noted that it begins with the quality of care an expectant mother receives – because women with low incomes experience the worst features of our public systems, which includes our health care system. Mistreatment at the hands of medical providers is a disincentive to seek further care, says Sarju. “Who wants to show up to a doctor’s appointment to be treated poorly?”

Even when socioeconomic differences are erased, race still matters. Black women are three times as likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes as white women, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “For African American and Native American women, midwifery and doula care are two of several evidence-based strategies for improving maternal-child health outcomes,” says Sarju. “If you have a well-trained and licensed provider, you have much better outcomes. Midwives and doulas are strategic resources.”

In Washington state, women of color have a greater likelihood of dying from pregnancy-related causes. And infants of color – particularly Black, American Indian, and Pacific Islander babies –experience higher rates of infant mortality and preterm births and are more likely to be born at a lower birthweight.

In order to make systemic improvements to address these poor outcomes, decision makers must thoroughly assess quality of care for women and families of color. Policymakers, community health leaders, health care practitioners, and other individuals who influence health care and public health systems should also take other necessary steps to implement the following recommendations to help improve health outcomes for mothers and young children:

  • Identify interventions to address the adverse effects of structural and institutional racism on health outcomes;
  • Promote culturally relevant forms of health care, such as midwifery; and
  • Prioritize socioeconomic supports that advance the well-being of families, including Apple Health coverage, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, two-generation approaches to parent-child support like home visiting, and the full implementation of the state’s new paid sick and family leave laws.

Getting All Kids Off to a Healthy Start” is the second release in the State of Washington’s Kids 2018 series. See the first in our series here.

KCinWA

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Kids of color are leading the way into a more racially diverse state

Posted by Jennifer Tran at Apr 11, 2018 12:55 PM |
Filed under: Kids Count, Equity

Our new KIDS COUNT in Washington demographic profile, “Kids are Leading the Way Toward a New Washington,” shows how kids of color are leading our state into a more racially diverse future. The profile – the first release in our State of Washington’s Kids 2018 series – focuses on how Washington state’s population is projected to become majority people of color around 2050, and youth are at the forefront of this trend.

Already, 43 percent of kids in our state are kids of color. And in eight of Washington’s 39 counties, the population of children is already majority kids of color. Latino, Pacific Islander, and mixed-race children are the fastest growing segments of our youth population.

SWK County Map

Kids of color in Washington state are diverse in ancestry, including Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, Ethiopian, Somali, and more. Additionally, over a quarter of Washington’s kids are immigrant or reside with at least one immigrant parent.

As kids of color continue to represent a growing share of Washington’s population, our state needs to create the conditions that allow all our children — regardless of race or ethnicity, immigration status, ZIP code, family income, gender, and whether English is their first language — to thrive. And the State of Washington’s Kids 2018 series provides recommendations for how policymakers can make this a reality. The first issue brief in the series, “Getting All Kids Off to a Healthy Start,” makes recommendations for how lawmakers and community leaders can help Washington’s kids have equitable opportunities for good health.

And in the coming months, keep an eye out for the next State of Washington’s Kids issue briefs. They will look at how our state can ensure kids in Washington have their basic needs met and how our state can ensure all kids have the opportunity to succeed in school and in life.

SWK2018


KIDS COUNT in Washington is a partnership between the Children’s Alliance and the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The demographic profile, “Kids are Leading the Way Toward a New Washington,” is the first release in our State of Washington’s Kids 2018 series, providing a racial demographic overview of Washington’s youth population. This profile is available in a printed folder format. For a hard copy, please contact adam(at)childrensalliance(dot)org.

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KIDS COUNT Report: Barriers to Opportunity Prevent Children of Color and Immigrant Children from Reaching Their Full Potential

The United States and Washington state are stronger when we harness the talents and drive of all people – including children – who will help build the nation’s future. For our country and state to reach our full economic, democratic, and moral potential, all children must have the opportunity to grow, develop, and thrive. A new Annie E. Casey Foundation report shows that too many young people of color are still facing barriers to a bright future, however. While there have been modest gains in terms of the well-being of kids of color in Washington state over the last three years, the report notes that families of diverse backgrounds, including immigrant families, struggle against barriers to success. Policymakers must enact policies to level the playing field for all kids.

2017_AECF_Race_for_Results

The Casey Foundation report, 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, measures children’s progress on the national and state levels in key education, health, and economic milestones by racial and ethnic groups. It shows that, in Washington state, Latino children, Black children, and American Indian children have lower overall scores of wellness compared to White and Asian and Pacific Islander children. Specifically, the report uses a composite score of child wellness based on a range of data indicators – with 1 being the lowest score and 1,000 being the highest. Latino, Black, and American Indian children scored 401, 456, and 459 respectively, while White children and Asian Pacific Islander children scored 719 and 756.

The 2017 Race for Results report also highlights the fact that children in immigrant families face some notable barriers:

  • Two-thirds of Washington children in U.S.-born headed households live in households with a basic-needs income or greater (above 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $40,320 for a family of three 2016), while just one in two children in immigrant families have an income sufficient to meet their basic needs. That income gap is larger in Washington than at the national level.
  • Children in immigrant families are less likely to grow up with a head of household who has at least a high school diploma.

More than 440,000 (28 percent) of Washington’s 1.6 million kids are children in immigrant families. Four out of five of immigrant children are children of color. Despite the challenges they face, children and young adults in immigrant families are also doing well on some measures:

  • Black and Asian Pacific Islander 3- and 4-year olds in immigrant families have the same or higher rates of enrollment in nursery school, preschool, or kindergarten than the Washington state average overall (60 percent).
  • Young adults aged 19 to 26 in immigrant families also tend to be working or enrolled in a degree, training, or certificate program at the same rates as their U.S.-born peers.
  • Black, White, and Asian Pacific Islander young adults in immigrant families are more likely to have an associate’s degree or other advanced degree.

The report underscores the formidable risks to healthy child development in immigrant families and for children of color that are caused by issues such as lack of access to living-wage jobs, limited educational opportunities, and family separation. These risks are further exacerbated by policies that limit resources and restrict access. Immigrant families are also facing policy proposals that threaten the residency status of 800,000 young people who have been granted a reprieve from fear of deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Washington state is home to 19,000 of the 800,000 DACA recipients.

All children need to reach their full potential if we are to reach ours as a nation. This means lawmakers must break down systemic barriers to opportunity placed in front of many children of color and immigrant children. With regard to immigrant children in particular, much of this country’s future success depends on how we equip immigrant families with the tools and skills that enable them to contribute to local economies – as immigrants have done since the founding of this country. The 2017 Race for Results report makes several recommendations to maximize children’s access to opportunity:

  • Keep families together. Immigration authorities and family courts can protect kids from adverse experiences by exercising discretion in choosing whether to separate parents from their children.
  • Help kids in communities of color, both immigrant and U.S.-born, to meet key developmental milestones. Policymakers can do more to link eligible families to quality early learning led by culturally competent teachers. More states, universities, and colleges can help qualified students pay for college without regard to immigration status.
  • Increase economic opportunity. Among the actions state policymakers can take is to increase access to occupational licenses and credentials to income-earning parents who entered their professions in foreign countries, boosting the prospects for higher household income.

To read more about how Washington’s kids are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups compared to the nation and other states, read the full 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children report and our KIDS COUNT in Washington press release.

KIDS COUNT Report: Washington Continues to See Historic Progress in Kids’ Health Care Access

Posted by Jennifer Tran at Jun 13, 2017 09:25 AM |

The number of Washington state children with health insurance has risen to historic highs, with 39 of every 40 kids in the state now covered by health insurance. Further, disparities in access to health care have been reduced across nearly all racial and ethnic groups. This according to the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the KIDS COUNT Data Center. Given this monumental progress toward strengthening the long-term health and well-being of Washington’s kids, our representatives in Washington, D.C. must reject harmful federal policy proposals that would send kids’ health backward.

WA_KCDB_2017_Health_Insurance_Soundbite

Washington state's Cover All Kids law, passed in 2007, combined with the 2014 implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have helped reduce the number of uninsured Washington children by more than half, to 3 percent today from 6 percent in 2011. This improvement underscores how smart federal investments to expand Washington state’s Apple Health for Kids has significantly enabled more kids to see a doctor or get necessary medicines when they’re sick.

As the chart below shows, these policies have also advanced health equity by connecting more Black, Latino, and Asian and Pacific Islander (API) children with the coverage they need to thrive. Today, only 2 percent of Black and API and 3 percent of Latino children are without health insurance. With the exception of American Indian children, coverage gaps among children of different races and ethnicities have narrowed since 2011. Ten percent of American Indian kids remain uninsured in Washington state.

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Uninsurance rates by race/ethnicity updated 12June2017

Unfortunately, this progress toward covering more kids is threatened by federal policy proposals that would make huge cuts to health care for people with low incomes. The proposal to “repeal and replace” the ACA with the American Health Care Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is now being negotiated by the U.S. Senate. It would effectively end the Medicaid expansion that led so many more children from families with low incomes to get health insurance through Apple Health for Kids in Washington. Furthermore, the president’s proposed budget would also slash Medicaid funding to the state nearly in half by 2027.

We all have a responsibility to ensure all of Washington’s kids have the opportunity to have a healthy start in life. At a time when far too many Washington families are just one personal crisis away from a financial catastrophe, it is vital that families can afford basic preventative health care for their children and can take them to a doctor when they need to. State and federal lawmakers must protect the health and economic security of kids and families against harmful budget proposals. They must safeguard the great progress our state has made in covering more children and closing racial and ethnic gaps in health coverage.

To read more about how Washington’s kids rank nationally in economic well-being, education, health, and family and community, read the full 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book, the one-page KIDS COUNT Washington state 2017 profile, and our KIDS COUNT in Washington press release.

Important Gains Have Been Made for a Better Future for Our State, but More Needs to Be Done

Washington’s elected leaders have an opportunity to ensure that all our residents have strong communities and the chance for a bright future. During the 2017 regular legislative session, state policymakers did pass some important bills – some of which are priorities for the Budget & Policy Center – to advance the wellbeing of Washingtonians. They include expanding access to early learning, enhancing educational opportunities for working parents, and supporting policies that would help reduce disparities in K-12 education. Yet they also left some very important policy decisions on the table to be worked out in the final budget.

The following highlights of key victories from the legislative session are great examples of what can be done to advance progress for working families for our state. As state policymakers move into a special session to negotiate the budget, they should build on these efforts to ensure the final budget secures a better future for all our residents.

Giving Washington’s Kids a Better, More Equitable Start


Washington state could be on track to expand the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), a key program for ensuring Washington kids have a solid foundation for early learning and care. Although the expansion is not a done deal, both the House and Senate budget proposals included plans to increase the number of 3 and 4 year olds in the program. However, only the House proposal included enough slots to put the state on track to meet its goal of covering the entire population of eligible kids who are not currently being served. If the final budget includes the funding, this would represent a significant step toward making sure all kids in Washington can get a great start in life. A recent research brief by KIDS COUNT in Washington – a collaboration between the Budget & Policy Center and the Children’s Alliance – found that expanding ECEAP could reduce disparities by race in K-12 readiness for kids across the state. The final budget must fund this expansion, and it must also include funding for ECEAP child care centers to build out their classrooms and facilities to accommodate more kids.

Policymakers also took another important step to advance racial equity for kids in schools by passing House Bill 1445, the Dual Language Learning Bill. Research has shown that one of the best ways to increase student achievement for both English-speaking kids and kids who are learning English as a second or third language is through dual language programs, which are programs that offer instruction to kids in two languages. Policymakers on both sides of the aisle took the important step to pass the bill to expand the program, but House and Senate budget proposals would have funded the program at different levels. Lawmakers should follow the urging of OneAmerica, the group that developed the legislation, and invest at least $4.5 million in funding for the program.

These investments are important steps forward for kids in our state. The final budget should also make sure that Washington’s kids and families have access to high-quality, affordable child care. The House has wisely proposed to do this by increasing pay for state-funded child care workers and increasing reimbursement rates for child care centers in the Working Connections Child Care program, a program that helps parents with low incomes pay for child care so they can go to work or train for a job.

The Budget & Policy Center is helping to shape the conversation on reducing disparities in education. For more details on how an ECEAP expansion and dual language learning can reduce disparities, check out our recent Budget Beat webinar, featuring the director of education and integration policy at OneAmerica. 

Providing More Opportunities for Working Families to Get Ahead


Everyone benefits when hardworking families have opportunities to get better-paying jobs and provide for their families. Two important bipartisan bills advanced this session that would create greater opportunities for working families. Policymakers in both parties passed House Bill 1566/Senate Bill 5347 which will allow parents on WorkFirst – Washington’s assistance and job training program for families striving to move out of poverty – to pursue 24 months of post-secondary education and training, rather than the current limit of 12 months. Research has found that people who get at least 54 credit hours of post-secondary education are more likely to be stably employed and earn more money over the long term.

Both Republicans and Democrats also worked to advance House Bill 1482/Senate Bill 5440 to prevent intergenerational poverty – a key Budget & Policy Center legislative priority  – which would create a new goal for the state to reduce the number of people living in poverty by half by 2025 through an intergenerational approach. Both the House and Senate budgets included funding for the bill in their budget proposals and the House bill passed with support from both parties. Now policymakers should include the bill in the final budget.

Our team is on the ground in Olympia! View our testimony on access to post-secondary education for families on WorkFirst before the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee. You can also watch our testimony addressing intergenerational poverty.

Removing Barriers for People to Re-enter their Communities:


Policymakers took important steps to provide educational opportunities for people who are incarcerated by passing Senate Bill 5069, the College in Prisons bill, which would allow people in prison in Washington to get an associate’s degree while serving their sentence. Research indicates that getting a post-secondary degree can reduce the likelihood that a person will be re-incarcerated by half. This is a huge step forward to ensure that people leaving prison have access to meaningful opportunities for a better life.

However, it is important to note that there were two significant missed opportunities with important re-entry bills that did not advance this session. The Fair Chance Act, House Bill 1298/Senate Bill 5312, would have prevented employers from discriminating against people with convictions on job applications. Policymakers also failed to pass House Bill 1783, which would reform the state’s legal financial obligations (LFO) policy. LFOs are fines and fees a person may need to pay connected with their conviction. While in prison – when a person is unable to work to earn an income – interest on unpaid fees can accumulate at an interest rate of 12 percent. The LFO reform bill would have improved this system to make it easier for people to pay of this debt and fulfill their sentence. Moving forward, lawmakers must take steps to remove the systemic barriers that exist for Washingtonians who are trying to re-enter and contribute to their communities.

We are highlighting important conversations at civic events! Read more about the need for LFO reform in this slideshow from a panel at our Budget Matters 2016 Policy Conference.


As the legislature moves into special session to write the budget, lawmakers must make sure the final budget secures a future for Washington that we all want: great schools, strong families, healthy communities. So far, the House budget proposal is a step in that direction that would secure the revenue necessary to make important investments in our communities. The Senate budget proposal, by contrast, would harm children, families and people with disabilities in Washington. Securing a strong future for our state will require leadership from both parties and the willingness to make the right investments on behalf of Washington residents. Now it is time to get to work on that important task.

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HIGHLIGHTS

Save the date!

Our Budget Matters 2018 policy conference will take place on November 13 at Seattle Center. john a. powell from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society is the keynote. Stay tuned for more details. 

Our policy priorities

Washington state should be a place where all our residents have strong communities, great schools, and the chance for a bright future. Our 2017-2019 Legislative Agenda outlines the priorities we are working to advance.

Testimonies in Olympia

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Watch our 2018 legislative session testimonies on TVW: