"This is an important piece of legislation, but it's so much more than a document. It's a statement of our values," Raimondo said. "What we're saying today is that we value opportunity, education and community. Most importantly, this budget is about Rhode Islanders whose lives are going to be made better by our investments."
Governor Raimondo recognized the following individuals who attended the budget signing:
Khadija Khan has been the Executive Director at Beautiful Beginnings, a high-quality child care center in Providence, since it opened in 1999. She has a Master's degree in Elementary Education and a Rhode Island teacher certification in Early Childhood Education. Thanks to this budget, the state will be able to incentivize high-quality child care at centers like hers. "It is exciting to work with children in their early years because the foundation that they build here supports them to be curious, confident and excited learners as they progress in life," Khan said. "Tiered reimbursement will help support quality within child care centers and will provide access to high-quality child care for many children in our state. Together, we are moving RI forward."
Heather Webster is the president of the RI Affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the executive director of Brown/Fox Point Early Childhood Education Center. This year, she became a first-time foster parent and is currently caring for two foster children. Heather is a 40-year-old Cranston resident who chose to be a single foster parent because, after 20 years working in early childhood education, she wanted to support more children directly in her home. She knew she had the capability to give children who had experienced trauma the stability, support and love they needed and deserved. Thanks to an increase in funding for foster family reimbursement, Heather will be able to better support the children in her care.
Sylvia Dulgarian, of Warwick, is a volunteer and member of the Pilgrim Senior Center. As a certified counselor in the Senior Health Information Program administered through the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs, Sylvia and her fellow volunteers at Pilgrim saved their peers over $175,000 during the most recent Medicare Open Enrollment period. She also volunteers with AARP during tax season as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Sylvia spoke passionately throughout the budget process about the importance of supports provided at senior centers. The budget doubles funding for senior centers.
Johanna Bravo is a graduate of Hope High School. She served in the U.S. Army for three years and was deployed to Iraq. She completed her military commitment as a member of the RI National Guard, which also brought her to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for part of her service. This May with the help of Real Jobs RI, she completed an internship coordinated by SENEDIA with Purvis Systems, designed specifically for veterans transitioning into the civilian workforce. The skills she developed in the Army, specializing in logistics and supply chain, served her well in this new position. Even before officially completing her internship, Purvis Systems asked her to join their team as an employee. She now works as a logistician for the company, supporting inventory and supply chain management. Johanna has a 2-year-old daughter named Anna and lives in Providence. The budget makes the Real Jobs RI program permanent.