Learn about the bills and concepts we’ll be advocating for during the 2022 Legislative Session

Utah’s 2022 Legislative Session runs from January 18th to March 4th. During this time, Utah’s elected officials meet to debate and vote on legislation and build a budget for the state funding for the year.

At United Way of Salt Lake, we believe that engaging in public policy is an important step in creating widespread change and securing important government funding for programs that support the health and wellbeing of our community. We are excited to have you join us on the Hill or virtually this session to advocate for bills that will further all Utahns’ opportunities for a good education, healthy life, and financially stable future.

Learn about our priorities for the 2022 session:

 

Expanding Optional Full-Day Kindergarten Opportunities to Every Student

Kindergartner proudly holds up coloring in classroomResearch shows students benefit from full-day kindergarten in a variety of ways. Utah kids in full-day kindergarten regularly perform 2 to 4 times better than their half-day kindergarten peers with regards to basic kindergarten proficiencies. A full-day program provides sufficient time for teachers to ensure deep learning of the kindergarten state standards and for students to practice and master those standards.

To support parental choice, equitable access, and local control, this session our #1 priority will be advocating for a three-year expansion of optional full-day kindergarten so every family who wishes to attend can. Over the three years, Utah will need to invest an additional $60 million in the education budget.

UWSL is working with a large coalition of stakeholders who support optional full-day kindergarten. Learn more about the coalition and how you can support this effort at utahfulldayk.today

 

Early Literacy

Student reads in classFull-day kindergarten helps lay the groundwork for one of our other priorities for the session, strengthening early literacy. Currently, 53% of Utah 3rd graders do not read at grade level, and within that group, there is a 15-percentage point gap in early literacy between higher-income students and their low-income peers and a 20-percentage point gap between white students and students of color. These gaps persist through high school and have a significant negative impact on health and economic mobility into adulthood.

During the 2022 Legislative Session, we will push to pass key legislation that will equip educators, parents, and communities to help all students read on grade level.

 

Belonging and Inclusion in Utah Schools

Student with dreads holds up a peace sign All students in Utah have the right to receive an education in a safe and inclusive environment, one that’s free from harassment and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and physical and mental abilities. This environment is not a reality for many students across the state.

This session, we will fight to create safe and inclusive schools where all kids and families have opportunities to thrive.

Learn how you can get involved with our toolkit at uw.org/action-toolkit-supporting-safe-and-inclusive-classrooms

 

Childcare Access and Affordability

Teacher works with two preschoolersDependable childcare is an essential part of many Utah children’s early education journey. Childcare professionals help Utah kids learn, grow and develop in a safe, stimulating environment while their parents are working. The childcare industry is also essential to keeping our economy going. Utah’s childcare industry struggled prior to the pandemic and is now hurting even more. Access to quality childcare has long been an issue that is being further exacerbated by a lack of workforce. Addressing the persistent issues in childcare will take years, and we must start now to build a stronger system that supports children, families, and childcare providers. This session we will be working on bills that will increase access to and affordability of childcare, support childcare professionals, and help stabilize and build the childcare sector.

 

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By Elizabeth Garbe, Senior Director, Government Relations and Public Policy