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President Barack Obama and a young student touch fingers during at the Community Children's Center, one of the nation's oldest Head Start providers, in Lawrence, Kan., Jan. 22, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and a young student touch fingers at the Community Children’s Center, one of the nation’s oldest Head Start providers, in Lawrence, Kan., Jan. 22, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Child care got crucial attention in President Obama’s State of the Union address; and now the president is calling for a federal investment in child care to make it more affordable for parents.

“In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever,” Obama said in the State of the Union.

“It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.”

Obama’s plan would “make affordable, quality child care available to every working and middle-class family with young children,” according to a White House press release, that says the president is calling for:  (more…)

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“During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority — so this country provided universal childcare. In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.”

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, January 20, 2015

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

During last month’s White House Summit on Early Education, the Obama Administration released a new public policy tool, the “Playbook for Becoming an Early Learning Community.”

The playbook offers communities “strategies for local leaders to develop and expand early education in their communities,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s part of the president’s national early learning agenda called “Invest in US.”

The playbook should be a helpful resource to local communities — both here in Massachusetts and across the nation — that are working to improve early learning and kindergarten readiness.

As the playbook explains, “An Early Learning Community works together to deliver measurable improvements in the lives of its youngest children. It provides all (more…)

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SchoolQuality_fig5Why does the country need a federal investment in preschool? The Center for American Progress says:

Research indicates that access to quality preschool can provide a boost for children that will influence their success for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, not every child has access to high-quality early education, and many of children who could benefit do not attend preschool. This is particularly true for low-income children and children of color.”

The center makes its case in six charts that look at how race and income affect children’s preschool experiences.

“The longer policymakers wait to invest in American children, the less likely it is that they will achieve their full potential.”

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Earlier this week, President Obama announced that Massachusetts had won a federal Pre-K Development Grant. Here’s what the commonwealth’s Congressional delegation had to say about the award.

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“This federal grant will give more Massachusetts families a chance at high-quality early education for their kids by expanding and strengthening preschool programs in communities across the Commonwealth.”

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren

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“Children who have access to early learning programs are more likely to continue in their education and become productive members of society, and I congratulate Governor Patrick and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care for their leadership.”

Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey

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“Massachusetts has long led the nation in quality public education. The announcement of new federal funding through the preschool expansion grant competition is recognition of the Commonwealth’s longstanding investment in our young students, and of the innovative work done by our teachers and administrators.”

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas

 

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President Obama hugs Alajah, the third-grader who introduced him at the summit.  Photo: The White House.

President Obama hugs Alajah Lane, the third-grader who introduced him at the summit. Photo: The White House

Yesterday was a historic day at the White House. President Obama hosted an early education summit that included an announcement about increased resources for young children and families.

The White House Summit on Early Education brought together a wide range of stakeholders — mayors, school superintendents, members of Congress, philanthropists, funders, and corporate and community leaders — who shared their work on providing high-quality preschool programs.

And President Obama announced that states had won over $1 billion in early childhood grant awards. The president also announced an additional $330 million in private funding.

“Early education is a win for everyone,” Obama said in his summit speech. High-quality programs give children a strong start and they save taxpayer dollars. And as Obama pointed out, progress has been bipartisan. Red and blue states including Oklahoma and Georgia and New York and New Jersey have boosted their commitment to high-quality preschool.  (more…)

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Yesterday, Governor Deval Patrick announced that “Massachusetts is one of 13 grant award winners in the federal Preschool Development Grant: Expansion Grant competition, and will receive significant funding to expand high quality preschool programs in five high-needs communities across the state. These communities are Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell and Springfield.”

Chris Martes

Chris Martes

In response, Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children, issued the following statement:

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of Strategies for Children, we applaud the Patrick Administration and the Department of Early Education and Care for its successful federal grant proposal for pre-kindergarten. This funding will help the commonwealth close the achievement gap by investing in high-quality early learning experiences for some of our neediest children. Too many children show up for school already behind, and too many never catch up. High quality pre-k is an evidence-based strategy for closing the achievement gap.

High-quality early education is about starting early to support and develop the whole-child: social/emotional skills, vocabulary, early math, executive function, creativity, and a love of learning. The best pre-kindergarten programs do this, all under the safe and supportive guidance of high-quality, well trained, well compensated early childhood educators.

Children in Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield will benefit directly from this grant. In these communities, high-quality programs from across the mixed-provider early education field will provide the pre-K program, and partner (more…)

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