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Graphic: Child Care Aware of America

Graphic: Child Care Aware of America

The national nonprofit Child Care Aware of America is tolling the bell on the high cost of child care. The organization has just released “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care 2015 Report.”

The need for child care is considerable. “In the United States, an estimated 11 million children under the age of five spend an average of 36 hours per week in child care.”

However: “For many, the high cost of child care is one of the initial shocks of becoming a parent,” the report says. And sadly, the high cost of many child care programs does not guarantee high quality.

Expenses vary by region.

“The cost of full-time center-based care for two children is the highest single household expense in the Northeast and Midwest. In the West and the South, the cost of child care for two children is surpassed only by the cost of housing in the average family budget.” (more…)

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Photo: Rylie Robinson for Strategies for Children

Photo: Rylie Robinson for Strategies for Children

“’Data! data! data!’ he cried impatiently. ‘I can’t make bricks without clay.’”

-Sherlock Holmes, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

*     *     *

In the field of early education, policymakers, practitioners, and researchers are all searching for good reliable data. Indeed, our ambitious, system-building goals require lots of data.

Take a look at K-12. Never before has that sector been so awash in data or so focused on using data to make informed decisions about teaching and learning. And data also fuels discussions about school and district accountability.

However, the data landscape is much different in the birth-5 early education space where simply asking “Where are all the 4-year-olds?” can quickly send you on a wild goose chase.

This lack of data can be as frustrating for local community leaders looking to improve preschool enrollment or kindergarten readiness as it is for state-level policymakers eager to measure the impact of state investments.

(more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

The city of Cambridge, Mass., has released its “Early Childhood Task Force Report 2015.” It’s a comprehensive look at how the city can build an early childhood system that improves the lives of its youngest children.

“We should be breaking open bottles of champagne. This is fulfilling hopes and dreams of so many people in Cambridge,” school committee member Fred Fantini said, according to a Wicked Local Cambridge article, which adds:

“The task force [has] developed a three-year-plan to improve early childhood education that would require an intended budget of $190,000 in 2016, $1.3 million in 2017, and $2.3 million in 2018. In the first year of the plan, the money would go towards affordability of early childhood services, program quality, and governance. In 2017 and 2018, family engagement and health care will be included in the budget costs as well.”

In a memo, City Manager Richard C. Rossi explains that the task force did its work with this powerful vision in mind:

“All children in Cambridge receive high quality early education and care from birth through third grade. As a result, all children enter school ready to thrive academically, socially, emotionally and continue to do so through third grade and beyond.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Bilingual education has had a bumpy history, but now educators increasingly see the power of this approach. Educating children in both their native language and the language of their new homes helps them thrive.

Seventeen years ago, the opposition against bilingual programs — now more commonly known as dual language programs — was fierce.

“In 1998, Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley millionaire and former gubernatorial candidate, set out to abolish bilingual education in California. Fueled by an anti-immigrant climate, Unz spearheaded a statewide campaign for Proposition 227, a highly controversial state initiative that required schools to teach language-minority students almost entirely in English,” an article in the Atlantic says of the recent policy history. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is weighing in on preschool with an article about the challenges of creating programs that maximize best outcomes for children.

Called “Preschool is for Real,” the article starts by noting that children and teachers are doing a lot of hard work.

“Imagine yourself as a preschooler. Everything’s an adventure, from pretending you’re a superhero to chasing a butterfly to painting a self-portrait. There is so much to explore, discover and learn at preschool, and it all feels like play—hours and hours of play,” the article says.

“But behind all the fun and games, preschool teachers have one very serious goal: To prepare children for kindergarten and future academic success. To achieve that, they have the daunting task of helping young children learn specific social, emotional, physical, linguistic, cognitive, literacy and math skills, which are defined in state learning guidelines or standards. All this sounds very much like school, although preschool teachers make it all feel like play.” (more…)

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“Presidential candidates hoping to attract Millennials, Hispanics and swing state voters in 2016 could be well-advised to make early education a key part of their education platform, according to the results of a new national poll showing that 76 percent of voters support the idea of spending federal money to expand public preschool.

“Commissioned for the third year running by the D.C.-based early childhood advocacy organization, First Five Years Fund, this year’s poll included several new questions including one on how favorably respondents would view a candidate interested in increasing funding for early childhood programs. Fifty-four percent said they would hold a more positive view of such a candidate.

“’It’s polling so well that there’s little downside to running on it,’ said Kris Perry, executive director of First Five Years Fund. ‘Based on the evidence, I hope a couple of them–someone on each side–will take it up.’”

 

From “Early education popular with voters, but what about candidates?” by Lillian Mongeau, The Hechinger Report, October 22, 2015

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Parents know about the high cost of child care, and we’ve blogged about it a number of times. Now a recent brief from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) adds more data and highlights how costs vary across the country.

EPI is “a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank created in 1986 to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.”

EPI’s brief — “High Quality Child Care Is Out of Reach for Working Families” — points to decades of stagnating wages, noting, “In essence, only a fraction of overall economic growth is trickling down to typical households.”

The brief says that it will take a range of policies to help more Americans share in the nation’s prosperity. Some of these policies should “give workers more leverage in the labor market, and some should expand social insurance and public investments to boost incomes. An obvious example of the latter is helping American families cope with the high cost of child care.” (more…)

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