Child care assistance and universal pre-K are high on the list of policies that help women, especially low-income women, succeed in school and work. In the last two weeks, two important U.S. political leaders did something about child care funding -- and that’s worth paying attention to. In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed expanding the nation’s investment in early education and care. His proposed budget, released one week ago, included new child care support funds for families up to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level ($38,000 for two adults with one child) and for families with higher incomes, tripling the tax deduction to $3,000 per dependent child. In addition, his budget proposes funding for states that implement paid family leave and universal pre-K. It expands Early Start and increases Head Start to a full-day program. See and for more details. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, last week our new Governor Charlie Baker rolled out “9C” cuts -- emergency cuts that can be made by the Governor alone without legislative approval -- to tackle a state deficit caused by much higher-than-expected costs of health care last year. A MA education and advocacy group, Strategies for Children/Eye on Early Education detailed these cuts of $5.5 million to the Department of Early Education and Care’s budget, including: the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) access account; Head Start; Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grants; and the new K1 classroom grant program, and the waitlist reduction fund. In addition, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Full Day Kindergarten grants were cut by $5 million. You can make a difference in what happens next, both at the state and national level. President Obama’s budget has to go through Congress and will have much opposition and support along the way. And while Governor Baker’s 9C cuts will go through, the Governor, state representatives and senators are developing their own budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2015, known as FY2016. They will be listening to the people they represent, including all of us who care about this issue. Strategies for Children has a great campaign you can participate: have your children write Governor Baker on cut-out paper stars urging him to support strong early education and child care funding in next year’s budget. See here for more details. At the national level, the National Women’s Law Center is delivering Valentine’s to members of Congress this Thursday, February 13th. Valentines ask Congressional leaders to “support young hearts and minds and invest in child care.” Anyone can participate by mailing or emailing her or his senator and representative with this message. By, Valerie Bassett Executive Director Women's Fund of Southeastern Ma.