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SB 369: Education – Prekindergarten Programs – Notification of Eligibility by Local Departments of Social Services

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public-policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

SB 369 requires certain local departments of social services to provide to parents or guardians of a 4-year old child with a family income of no more than 185% of the federal poverty guidelines notice that the child may be eligible for publicly funded prekindergarten programs.

Multiple studies point to the benefits of quality prekindergarten education over a lifetime. Children who live in households with a family income of 185% of the federal poverty guidelines (or less) are particularly vulnerable to lacking access to prekindergarten education –sometimes simply because their parents are unaware that they are eligible for publicly funded prekindergarten programs.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that, “it is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on” (no. 1908). In an effort to promote the common good, the Conference encourages you to support this legislation so that local departments of social services, which may already be in contact with families living poverty, are able to notify parents that their child(ren) could be eligible for publicly funded prekindergarten education.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and urges you to support SB 369.