Archive for the ‘Early Learning Challenge’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

This summer federal officials announced that states could apply for preschool development grants: a $250 million federal program that will help “states to build, develop, and expand voluntary, high-quality preschool programs for children from low- and moderate-income families.”

Now an impressive 32 states (as of Monday) have declared their interest in the program, which is being jointly run by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.

“These grants would lay the groundwork to ensure that more states are ready to participate in the Preschool for All formula grant initiative proposed by the Administration,” according to the Department of Education.

Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and New Hampshire are among the nine states applying for the program’s “development grants,” funding for states with little or no public preschool infrastructure. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

This blog was originally published on July 24, 2013.

Libraries and museums can engage, teach and delight children. But too often these institutions are not part of the policy conversation about early education.

A new report – “Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners” – calls for tapping and investing in more of the strengths and knowledge of these vibrant institutions.

“Libraries and museums can play a stronger role in early learning for all children,” the report says. “As our nation commits to early learning as a national priority essential to our economic and civic future, it is time to become more intentional about deploying these vital community resources to this challenge.”

The report comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

The nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums have 10 key strengths, according to the report, among them:

- Museums and libraries provide high-quality, easily accessed early education programs that engage and support parents in being their children’s first teachers. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

“Early education is in the spotlight like never before… yet real progress is elusive,” according to a report being released today by the New America Foundation called: “Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education.”

“President Barack Obama has repeatedly called for increased investments in child care, pre-K, home visiting, and other programs,” the report says. “Thirty-five states entered the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grants competition, which has so far invested about $1 billion in 20 states’ infrastructure. A long-overdue reauthorization bill for the Child Care and Development Block Grant overwhelmingly passed the Senate this year, with potential in the House.”

In addition, the report notes that philanthropies, governors, and state legislatures increasingly recognize the importance of investing in children.

Nonetheless, the report says, achievement gaps have widened. There aren’t enough seamless transitions from pre-K to grade school. Too many low income children aren’t getting the support they need. And Congress isn’t providing stable funding. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

The interesting thing about Liz Belsito’s favorite children’s book — “Whose Mouse Are You?” by Robert Kraus, which her parents read to her when she was young – is that the book’s theme of family engagement echoes a key theme in Belsito’s career.

“I’ve always tended to wear the family support hat,” Belsito said of her work, in a recent interview. A college graduate of UMass Amherst with an MSW from SUNY Albany, Belsito said that within social work she focused on public policy.

Today, Belsito is the Race to the Top Project Director at the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). She oversees the efforts funded by the $50 million, federal Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge grant that Massachusetts was awarded in 2011. EEC has used the grant to build on the earlier work Massachusetts has done to build a high-quality and responsive system of early education and care.

Now that there are 18 months left in this four-year grant, we asked Belsito to tell us about recent and upcoming Race to the Top efforts. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

We’re happy to welcome a new early education blog to town: The Birth Through Third Grade Learning Hub.

Learning Hub blogger David Jacobson travels around Massachusetts visiting the homes, centers, and classrooms where young children learn.

The impetus for the blog? For several years, it has been clear to Jacobson that communities were implementing new programs and practices without knowing what their neighbors were doing. The blog is a way to share these experiences among cities and towns.

Specifically, the blog “tracks, profiles, and analyzes Birth-Third initiatives with the aim of promoting learning, exchange, and knowledge-building across communities.”

Jacobson works at Cambridge Education, an educational consulting company, in two roles, as Professional Excellence Director and Early Years Lead.

His blog entries offer compelling, first-hand accounts, including this one from “The Boston K1DS Project: Implementing a New Curriculum in Community-Based Preschools” (more…)

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Governor Tom Corbett. Photo: Courtesy of Governor Corbett's Office

Governor Tom Corbett. Photo: Courtesy of Governor Corbett’s Office

“‘That’s you!’ an excited preschooler said to Gov. Tom Corbett, looking at the governor and then at his photo in the classroom, placed between photos of President Barack Obama and Mayor Bill Peduto.”

As this article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette goes on to explain, Corbett, the governor of Pennsylvania, was visiting a preschool classroom in Pittsburgh’s Small World Early Childhood Center II, Downtown. He had come to call for a larger state investment in early education.

“Before making his pitch, Mr. Corbett read ‘Stop Snoring, Bernard!’ to the class. He said the book was a favorite of his young grandson.”

As for Corbett’s proposed 2014-2015 state budget, it would add an extra $25.5 million to early education funding, including “$10 million for PreK Counts, which would make it possible for 1,670 more children to attend quality preschool programs statewide,” according to the article.

PreK Counts provides high-quality, half-day and full-day pre-kindergarten to nearly 12,000 3- and 4-year-olds who are at risk of failing in school and whose families earn up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. These children may also be English language learners or have special needs, according to Pennsylvania’s Department of Education.

Corbett says increasing funding for early education is “the best investment going.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last month, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) released its “Annual Legislative Report for 2013.”

Mandated by state law, the report is a useful and detailed resource for early education providers and advocates as well as legislators who want to know more about EEC’s goals and operations.

Created in 2005, EEC is the first “early education and care-focused department of its kind in the nation,” as the report explains. It combines parts of the former Department of Education (now the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) and parts of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

The report outlines EEC’s five strategic directions, which are:

- “Create and implement a system to improve and support quality statewide.”

- “Increase and promote family support, access and affordability.”

- “Create a workforce system that maintains worker diversity,” provides professional support, and produces strong outcomes for children.

- “Create and implement an external and internal communications strategy” that conveys the value of early education and care, and

- “Build the internal infrastructure” required to achieve this vision.

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