Community Leaders Discuss Early Education Funding


On Monday afternoon, a red-headed preschool child opened reading time by smacking a sticker on Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza’s forehead.

Snaza and Centralia Police Chief Carl Nielsen spent an afternoon with U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler reading a book titled “Police Officers on Patrol” to show the importance of early childhood program funding.

“It was cool to get to be here with both Sheriff Snaza and Chief Nielsen,” Herrera Beutler said. “This was my first time getting to do this, (but) they do this regularly to underscore their commitment again to these kids and these families.”

On Monday afternoon, United Way of Lewis County, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and members of Centralia College Children’s Lab School hosted what was essentially an event to thank Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler for her support in increasing funding for early childhood programs.

Herrera Beutler voted in favor of the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which increased funding for Head Start and Preschool Development Grants and doubled discretionary funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant.

“It underscores the need not just for community commitment, which I think is here, but for policy commitment to supporting these families who are literally just trying to give their kids a better shot than they had,” Herrera Beutler said in an interview with The Chronicle.

The group participated in a roundtable discussion at Centralia College and then walked to the Centralia College Children’s Lab School across the street.

“Primarily, we want thank her for votes that we reference in terms of the doubling of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which supports low-income working families here in Washington state,” said Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Washington State Director Erica Hallock in an interview. “So we want to thank her for her leadership, primarily. We also want to give her a first-hand look at the needs in Lewis County, because we know even with this significant investment, there is still a long way to go.”

At the roundtable discussion, Hallock, Snaza, Nielsen, Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program Manager at Centralia College Teresa Schneider and United Way of Lewis County Executive Director Debbie Campbell all addressed Herrera Beutler.

“We are really focused on breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty,” Campbell said.

Snaza and Nielsen, both members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, spoke to the importance of influencing young children and the lifelong effect it has.

“It has a true impact on these young kids,” Snaza said at the discussion.

Discretionary funding for the Block Grant rose by $2.5 billion to more than $5 billion in the FY18 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

“Under this Congress, there have been times when we have had horrible budgets and it’s been hard and you’ve had to prioritize,” Herrera Beutler said. “To be able to bring that to the table, and get it signed into law, I think underscores my commitment. It’s not going to fix anything by any stretch, but to those parents this is a gesture. This is where I am going to continue to put my time and effort, because I understand that your goal is to be successful for your family. And that’s my goal too. I want to help make you successful and give your kids that shot that they deserve.”