A Better Future for Anchorage’s Childcare
In April 2023, Proposition 14, also known as the Anchorage Child Care and Early Education Fund (ACCEEF), received significant support from Anchorage voters, with 55% of the vote in favor. This milestone represents a significant step forward in securing a brighter future for Anchorage’s children and families. The ACCEEF is designed to allocate the municipality’s marijuana tax revenue to support childcare and early childhood education. With the funds set to start accumulating in January 2024 and dispersing in 2025, an estimated $5 million will be available annually to enhance early education and childcare services.
Trevor Storrs, the President and CEO of Alaska Children’s Trust, whose organization played a pivotal role in the initiative, shared the importance of the ACCEEF, stating: “There is a huge need, as we know, as we came out of the pandemic, for childcare. Childcare is a key element in ensuring economic growth and support in our community. But we also know that it’s one of the most important times of a child’s development with brain science, and that ensuring that we have high-quality, accessible childcare and early education for all Anchorage kids is essential to our future in the community.”
To ensure the efficient and effective use of these funds, there are efforts in place to create the Anchorage Child Care and Early Education Implementation Team. This team will consist of members from diverse backgrounds, including childcare providers and parents who have firsthand experience with the system, as well as representatives of organizations like Threads Alaska, HeadStart and the Elmendorf-Richardson base. Its responsibilities include analyzing best practices, strategies, and trends in childcare and early education and developing a three-year strategic plan to maximize the fund’s impact.
The Implementation Team will meet regularly from November 2023 through at least July 2024. Storrs emphasized, “We want to ensure that these dollars are utilized in a way that they are maximized. So, we brought together several individuals to develop these things.” To ensure that community members’ voices are heard, the Implementation Team will conduct listening sessions and gather insights from experts in the field, providers, and parents. This approach aims to address both immediate needs and establish a sustainable system for the future. Storrs further mentioned: “We want to be able to do two things. One is to address the immediate need as best as possible, while also establishing a sustainable system. We can’t just meet the current need; we also need to ensure that we create a system that can grow and ensure the highest quality of service possible.”
While the application period to join the Implementation Team is now closed, parents, guardians and everyone involved in childcare and education is invited to participate in the listening sessions and to pay attention to the process. As Trevor Storrs mentioned: “We know $5 million is just a pour, it’s not a drop, but a pour into the bucket,” and while there is a long way to go to solve all the problems in the area of childcare and early education, this initiative is a significant milestone for Anchorage, and we should pay attention to ensure it goes a long way.