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On May 11, 2023 Indi Dutta-Gupta testified before the House Budget Committee on protecting American families from attempts to hold hostage policies that support them.

This testimony first explains at a high level why many people in the United States rely on specific federal programs to achieve economic security and access economic opportunity and how federal policies—in particular—effectively meet many of these needs. Next, the testimony explains why the deep cuts mandated under the McCarthy debt ceiling bill would undermine the nation’s well-being, including through counterproductive cuts to child care, workforce development, and postsecondary education. The testimony then explains why revenues must be a major part of the answer to concerns about deficits and debt. It concludes by highlighting the dangers of failing to raise our arbitrary threshold on the amount of outstanding obligations we allow ourselves to pay and urging Congress to act swiftly to avoid this self-inflicted wound to our prosperity.

Read the full testimony here.

Dear Friends,

We recently marked three years since the start of the pandemic. During this extraordinary time, we have learned lessons, shared experiences, tested solutions, and revealed realities about the state of our economy, never-ending racial and gender inequities, a democracy under constant siege, and basic human fatigue. Throughout it all, CLASP has remained nimble and responsive, advancing public policy that meets human needs and upholds human dignity. At the end of the day, what we seek is impact.

We want impact that is tangible. Impact that is transformative and durable. Impact that guides our efforts at every level. For every challenge we seek to address, we want to create short- and long-term impact for the tens of millions of children and families with low incomes, working people, youth and young adults, immigrants, and communities of color across the nation.

We hold the truths that we need dramatic and fundamental changes and that people who are suffering lack the luxury of waiting for the perfect solution. We develop and support effective compromises that make our eventual goals more achievable and resist those that undermine the world we are working to create. And we never lose sight of that ultimate vision as we build the knowledge and support necessary to win victories along the way.

2022 was a year of major changes for CLASP—from the transition of long-time executive director, Olivia Golden, to the beginning of my tenure as CLASP’s new president and executive director. Ushering in a new chapter, CLASP began a journey of realigning our vision and purpose, building on more than 50 years of impact at the local, state, and national levels. We are strengthening that impact by deepening our Hill presence and our partnerships to center people, equity, and our democracy in major policy proposals.

We recognize that our struggles are interconnected and that solutions are often crosscutting. This means creating policy solutions that build systems and structures to advance equity and make our democracy more responsive to people who are marginalized and excluded. For our solutions to work, we must deepen our engagement with individuals who have lived experiences with the challenges we address as strategic thought partners and experts. For people to trust us, we must provide valuable research, analysis, and evidence.

We remain ever grateful to our extended family of partners, collaborators, and funders. Your investments—financial and otherwise—have helped CLASP navigate times of uncertainty, opportunity, and threats. As we look ahead, impact will be our North Star, guiding our internal and external strategies, advocacy priorities, and collaborations.

In solidarity,

Indivar “Indi” Dutta-Gupta

President and Executive Director


Support CLASP to continue more of this work in 2022 and beyond with a monthly or one-time gift that will help kids and families with low incomes become economically secure.


By Alejandra Londono Gomez

Question: What is presumptive eligibility and why do families need it?

Answer:  Presumptive eligibility for child care subsidies is a policy that allows families to receive temporary and immediate financial assistance to pay for child care services, while the agency administering the subsidy program determines and verifies their eligibility for the program.

Question: How many states have a presumptive eligibility policy for child care?

Answer: As of April 2023, four states and one county have a presumptive eligibility policy for child care assistance: Delaware, Maryland, Montana, Wyoming, and Monroe County in New York.

Question: How long does an eligibility determination take in a state that does not have a presumptive eligibility policy?

Answer: The period of time for a state and jurisdiction to determine eligibility without presumptive eligibility varies greatly depending on many circumstances. Qualitative data suggests that families across states wait approximately 30 days for an eligibility determination. In some states, it can take several months to complete.

Question: How long can a family be considered presumptively eligible?

Answer: Each state and jurisdiction determines the amount of time they can provide child care subsidies for families who are considered presumptively eligible. Many states consider factors like current funding or the current processing time for the application. In states with presumptive eligibility policies, the current range is from 30 to 60 days.

Question: How can families ensure that they continue to receive child care assistance after their presumptive eligibility phase is over?

Answer: Families should complete the application process as determined by each state or jurisdiction. This includes fully completing the application and submitting all accompanying documents.

Question: What happens if a family does not finish its application after receiving presumptive eligibility?

Answer: Each state and jurisdiction have different rules in place for families who do not complete their application. However, most states will stop providing assistance if the family has not completed the application at the conclusion of the presumptive eligibility period.

Question: What happens if the family is determined not to be eligible for the program?

Answer: If a presumptively eligible family is determined ineligible under state and federal eligibility rules, the family would no longer be eligible for care. Most states allow families to finish out the presumptive eligibility period. Additionally, the state’s subsidy payment made during the presumptive eligibility period would be considered an unallowable expenditure. Therefore, the state child care agency would not be able to use federal funds for the payment and any federal funds used would be subject to repayment to the federal government.

Question: What happens if a family is determined to not be eligible for a subsidy under the state or jurisdiction’s requirements, but is eligible under the federal criteria?

Answer: If a family is determined to be ineligible for the program under the state or jurisdiction’s eligibility rules, but is determined to be eligible within the federal eligibility requirements, the state may use federal funds to cover the cost of the subsidy. In other words, if a family met federal eligibility rules, but failed to meet additional state eligibility requirements, the payment would still be allowable. However, the family would not continue to be eligible for the program after the presumptive eligibility period is complete or as otherwise determined by the state or jurisdiction.

Question: Will families be responsible for repayment if they are found to be ineligible for the program?

Answer: The funds used to support families during the presumptive eligibility period will not need to be recovered unless the payment was the result of fraud.

Question: Will providers be paid, even if a family is deemed ineligible for ongoing assistance?

Answer: Yes. Child care providers must still be paid for services rendered even if the family is deemed ineligible.

Question: Will presumptive eligibility cost states a lot of money?

Answer: No. A state is only responsible to cover funds if a family is found to be ineligible under the federal eligibility rules. Since presumptive eligibility is a temporary policy, the amount of money that a state could be responsible for is very low. States that have implemented a presumptive eligibility policy have not reported large costs as a result.

Question: How do I pursue a presumptive eligibility policy in my state?

Answer: For technical assistance to support your state’s efforts toward a presumptive eligibility policy in child care please reach out to Alejandra Londono Gomez at

>> Read the FAQs here

By Alejandra Londono Gomez

Presumptive eligibility for child care subsidies is a policy that allows families to receive temporary child care assistance while their eligibility for the program is being determined. This means that families can get immediate financial assistance to pay for child care services, even as their application is being processed and verified. During this provisional period, families are allowed time to submit outstanding documents while getting access to much-needed care. Currently, presumptive eligibility is available in four states and one county: Delaware, Maryland, Montana, Wyoming, and Monroe County in New York.

Families Gain Significant Benefits with Presumptive Eligibility

From language barriers and long lists of documents to disproportionate access to technology, many families often have trouble with the child care assistance application process. The barriers are particularly steep for families with low incomes and Black, immigrant, and other families of color who are disproportionately affected by racism in public benefit programs. Enhancing families’ access to child care while determining their qualifications for subsidies has several advantages. Presumptive eligibility policies help families and states by:

Presumptive Eligibility Journey


It’s important to note that presumptive eligibility is temporary. Families must complete the application process to receive ongoing subsidies. The duration of the presumptive eligibility period can also vary by state or jurisdiction. Since only four states and one county have a presumptive eligibility policy in place, most states have a tremendous opportunity to expedite access to care for families by implementing this policy. To learn more about presumptive eligibility see our FAQ.

For more information or to receive technical assistance to support your state’s efforts to work toward a presumptive eligibility policy in child care, reach out to Alejandra Londono Gomez at

>> Read the full fact sheet here

By Stephanie Schmit & Alycia Hardy 

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) recently reintroduced a stronger, revised version of the Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWFA). The bill addresses longstanding inequities in child care and early education for families and providers. It would expand access to nearly all children under age 6—including through providing universal preschool—increase wages for providers and their staff, and make needed care investments in all states.

One provision of the bill, the Building an Affordable System for Early Education (BASE) grants, is new this Congress. It is a grant program to provide funding to all states, the District of Columbia, and all tribes and territories, without requiring additional state match funds. It aims to make child care more accessible for families and better support providers.

>> Read the full fact sheet here. 

By Juan Carlos Gomez  

Throughout the campaign and even after taking office, President Biden promised a more humane approach toward people arriving at the border seeking asylum—if only to distance himself from the overtly xenophobic and cruel policies of President Trump. Yet our recent analysis of the budget of three agencies within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reveals a disconnect between the president’s rhetoric and his priorities, which intensely focus on enforcement and deterrence, mirroring the approach of his predecessor.

Biden’s budget request for enforcement could exceed Trump’s 

We compared the budgets of two DHS agencies focused largely on immigration enforcement—Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—with that of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that oversees applications for citizenship, naturalization, visas, and other forms of legal migration. We found the budget requests of CBP and ICE dwarfed the budget of USCIS: CBP’s total budget is three times that of USCIS and ICE’s budget exceeds USCIS’s budget by more than $2 billion. Biden’s budget request for USCIS (less than $1 billion) is a fraction of what he asked for CBP and ICE ($16.4 billion and $8.3 billion, respectively). USCIS’s budget is mostly powered by fees, which could be burdensome for immigrants who are not already wealthy.

In addition, the Biden Administration has asked for additional money in the form of a $4.7 billion contingency fund for CPB and ICE officials to use at their discretion for enforcement and deterrence activities. Including the contingency fund, Biden’s budget request would provide these two agencies with $29.4 billion in discretionary funding, exceeding the $25.5 billion Trump requested for CBP and ICE in FY 2021.

However, research shows that increased immigration enforcement will not deter people coming to the United States.  In fact, greater enforcement creates more chaos and pushes families to try to enter the country in more dangerous ways. This contingency fund is especially troubling but perhaps not surprising since Title 42, the Trump-era policy used to deport asylum seekers supposedly in the name of public health, will expire on May 11.

Notably, the Biden Administration also requested 30 percent less for the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program. When delivered in partnership with community-based organizations, ATD programs can provide immigrants with a humane and dignified alternative to detention while they await the outcome of their immigration case. Cutting ATD programs is both cruel and costly. These programs cost less than $8 a day per person compared to detention, which costs $150 a day per person. The administration states that immigration agencies could use money from the contingency fund to support the program further. However, without dedicated funding, increased support for ATD programs isn’t guaranteed, and the contingency fund could very well be used for immigration enforcement actions.

A continuation of harmful policies 

Increased support for ICE and CBP will provide the administration with the resources they need to continue and, in some instances, expand Trump’s harmful immigration policies. Rather than rebuilding our asylum system or investing in pathways that allow immigrants to arrive safely and with authorized status, the administration has proposed harmful policies such as an asylum ban, which would require immigrants to prove they have been denied asylum in a country through which they traveled and schedule an appointment for making their case for asylum using a smartphone app, which has been found to be unreliable.

If immigrants don’t follow these rules, they could face expulsion when they arrive at the border. Restrictions on asylum deny protection to children in families. Between March 2020 and May 2022, CBP expelled 30,806 children ages 3 and under to Mexican border cities, putting them in harm’s way.

Rights to asylum should not rely on access to a cell phone or internet service and should not force people to wait for approval in the very places they are trying to escape. The right to asylum is a human right recognized both domestically and internationally. Earlier this year, President Biden himself recognized that seeking asylum is a human right and referenced one of the most shameful moments in the United States’ immigration history: when asylum seekers fleeing the Holocaust were denied access to safety. The administration’s asylum policies undermine the promise that this country made to never again deny people the right to seek asylum. 

This disconnect in rhetoric and proposed policy is apparent among the administration’s highest officials. In early March Secretary Mayorkas stated that DHS was considering reinstating the family detention policy despite extensive research showing that there is no amount of time that is appropriate to jail children and their families. ICE detention is dangerous and at times fatal for immigrants in their custody. No amount of oversight or reform will make these systems completely safe for immigrants. Increased funding for ICE, including through a contingency fund with little oversight, will only exacerbate the harm. 

President Biden has issued two executive orders that commit the administration to racial equity, but on immigration, many of the administration’s proposed policies and funding requests unfortunately reflect the xenophobia and racism of his predecessor. The budget ignores the substantial evidence that anti-immigrant policies are dangerous, inhumane, wasteful, and costly. 

With the end of Title 42 approaching, the administration will have to decide whether it will take a new, humane approach, or continue to use a failing punitive approach. This administration can’t purport to support immigrants while proposing to expand the detention of children and families and limit the ability to seek asylum. It can’t claim to want an orderly process for immigrants to gain pathways to citizenship when it is requesting less funding for the agency that provides those pathways. The administration’s rhetoric toward immigrants doesn’t match its actions.  

By Christian Collins

Accessibility and affordability of postsecondary educational opportunities remain a persistent obstacle preventing millions of Americans and their families from acquiring high-quality employment. Though unlikely to pass through Congress, President Biden’s FY2024 budget strongly signals a priority on increasing accessibility of postsecondary education at community colleges through his administration’s proposed $90 billion over 10 years for universal tuition-free community college. The budget also includes $500 million to implement a new first-dollar grant program that would lay the foundation for free community colleges. Because state-level reforms have a substantially higher likelihood of success, state governments can play an even larger role in increasing both accessibility and affordability of postsecondary education. A highly effective tool available to states is the expansion of dual enrollment programs. 

Dual enrollment is the practice of students enrolling in two separate academic institutions simultaneously, most commonly with high school students taking college courses while still in high school. This practice originated in 1955 when the University of Connecticut began offering collegiate courses at area high schools and has since expanded to 82 percent of public high schools offering some version of dual enrollment.  

Underfunded, but not Underutilized 

Community colleges are the backbone of dual enrollment programs, as roughly 70 percent of all dual enrollment high school students take their courses through community colleges. These programs aren’t just a resource for students seeking access to affordable postsecondary education, they’ve also served to protect the health of community colleges themselves. While community college enrollment rates have continued to drop throughout the last decade, dual enrollment rates have increased. Postsecondary students aged 17 or younger had the only enrollment increases between 2020 and 2022 of any age group in undergraduate education at 9.3 percent, driven by a 12.8 percent increase in enrollment at public 2-year colleges. 

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia offer state-level dual enrollment programs, but not every program is designed with equity in mind. Of the 88 state-level programs nationwide, 40 require students to contribute at least a portion of their tuition, creating a cost barrier for potential students. Twelve states don’t provide any public funds for dual enrollment programs, leaving students and their families to pay all costs by themselves.  

This funding patchwork has led to inequitable access to dual enrollment opportunities based on race and family income. Nearly 13 percent of white high school students participated in dual enrollment, making them the only racial demographic with a double-digit percentage and more than doubling the rate of Black students. Schools serving higher percentages of students living in poverty offer significantly fewer dual enrollment options compared to schools with lower poverty levels, even when controlling for school size, school type, and school locale. 

Program availability is also limited by cost for under-resourced schools and districts, given that common cost barriers include a lack of available equipment, fewer available staff to facilitate programs, and less physical space to provide courses. Transportation is another cost obstacle to students seeking to enroll in programs, since 24 percent of all dual enrollment students had to commute to college campuses or other high schools to take courses, with this figure rising to as high as 32 percent for students in densely populated areas. The balance of dual enrollment students took their courses either online or at their high school.  

Cost barriers don’t affect just students seeking to dual enroll. The very colleges seeking to develop and implement these programs must grapple with financial issues. Tuition at community colleges for dual enrollment programs—no matter whether paid through public funds or by students themselves—is often offered at a discount compared to regular tuition rates due to state laws. Given that dual enrollment students represent nearly 20 percent of all community college students nationally, and with some states approaching 40 percent representation, that’s a significant revenue stream loss for community colleges. States must counter this shortfall through state-level funding to help ensure the financial sustainability of community colleges providing dual enrollment. Coupled with state governments chronically underfunding community colleges, some institutions don’t have the financial support needed to offer dual enrollment programs.  

Dual Enrollment is Well Worth the Costs 

Dual enrollment programs are arguably the largest available free college program in the country, and they represent a significant opportunity for the continued expansion of accessible and affordable postsecondary education. By contributing to increased income for graduates, helping lower unemployment rates, and generating significantly more tax revenue than they cost to run, community colleges are vital economic mobility lifelines.  

Through its $200 million proposal to create a Career-Connected High Schools initiative that integrates dual enrollment into high schools across the country, the Biden Administration is prioritizing the importance of such opportunities for millions of students. States’ underfunding of community colleges has already led to significant revenue gaps compared to 4-year colleges, and allowing these gaps to persist threatens the sustainability of vital anti-poverty programs like dual enrollment. To truly improve outcomes for the next generation, states must not just match the Biden Administration’s efforts but exceed them. 

This statement can be attributed to Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president and executive director, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). 

Washington, D.C., April 27, 2023—Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced a reimagined and strengthened Child Care for Working Families Act to address the care crisis plaguing the nation. For far too long, children, families, and providers have had to bear the burden of the broken child care sector. And the systemic racism and sexism that’s been part of the history of child care persist to this day in harming groups that have been historically marginalized. It’s beyond time to flip that script and meet the needs of all families, including those who have been excluded and harmed by policies and systems that leave millions of hardworking families unsupported. This bill begins to right those wrongs.  

Currently, only 1 in 6 eligible children receive child care assistance. This bill would increase access in a big way—making more children eligible and guaranteeing care for children under 6 with a parent(s) who participates in a qualifying activity. It would also boost provider wages and supports, as well as provide resources for more accessible career pathways to help expand the child care provider workforce. The two very critical pieces of the puzzle—access for families and support for providers—are often pitted against one another at the state level due to limited federal support.  

This bill would help eliminate the tensions states constantly experience, where nearly every positive policy improvement comes at the expense of something else valuable. By providing Building an Affordable System for Early Education (BASE) grants to all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia, this bill would set providers and states up for success by allocating funds to every state to support child care providers, increase worker pay, and improve access for families. The bill also encompasses universal preschool, including Head Start agencies—initiatives that have proven their value in red and blue states alike. Finally, the bill provides funding to improve the duration of the Head Start program and better align it with need throughout the country. 

The well-designed federal child care investments embodied in the Child Care for Working Families Act are a no-brainer. The lack of affordable, high-quality child care has limited our country’s economic potential and wellbeing for generations. The bill would improve lifelong outcomes for children and increase education, employment, and earnings among their caregivers—including both parents and child care professionals. It’s time for Congress to turn this proposal into a reality. 

By Kathy Tran

Subsidized employment programs aim to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment during periods of recession. They have been an effective strategy for decades to put people to work and support economic growth. In particular, these programs have helped populations facing high rates of unemployment, including youth aged 16 to 24. However, young people need additional, dedicated federal support to ensure their success joining the workforce.

Young people experienced the highest levels of joblessness even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, they continue to face the steepest barriers to employment. From 2020 to 2023, youth ages 16 to 24 had the highest unemployment rate compared to workers aged 25 to 64. During the height of the pandemic, surveys showed that 1 in 10 young people experienced unemployment due to COVID-19-related reasons.

As Congress considers pandemic recovery efforts, policymakers should consider how a national subsidized employment program can address the youth unemployment crisis. For such a national program to meet its full potential at scale, it must center youth voices and equity at the forefront.

This brief examines the challenges youth face in the current job market and proposes recommendations for a national subsidized employment program that prioritizes equity and amplifies youth voices. The insights provided in this brief are informed by several listening sessions with members of the Communities Collaborating to Reconnect Youth Network (CCRY). CCRY is a national learning community that brings together leaders from different youth workforce systems who focus on reconnecting youth with education and career pathways.

Drawing insights from the CCRY Network, this brief provides recommendations on how decisionmakers can center youth voice and equity in the policy development and program design for a scaled-up national youth subsidized employment program.

>> Read the full brief here

On April 27, Indi Dutta-Gupta will speak at a webinar titled “5 Year Bar: What It Is and Why It Must Be Removed” hosted by the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition.