Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

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: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Families are vital to children’s success, especially children who are dual language learners (DLLs), according to a recent brief from Columbia University’s National Center for Children in Poverty. The brief looks at how early education and care programs can better engage the parents of linguistically diverse families.

In “Supporting Parent Engagement in Linguistically Diverse Families to Promote Young Children’s Learning: Implications for Early Care and Education Policy,” the authors point to a large body of research showing “that varied forms of parent engagement have a positive influence on children’s learning and development.”

“Currently, of the approximately 23 million children in the United States under the age of six years, 8% live in households where no one over the age of 14 is proficient in English,” the brief says. “Young children of immigrants comprise 25 percent of all children under nine years, and 47 percent of foreign born parents of children in this age range report limited English proficiency.”

The brief adds: “Fostering parent engagement in linguistically diverse families during the early childhood period can promote school readiness among children who face higher educational risks, including family poverty and linguistic isolation, while also leveraging key family strengths.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has just released its 2015 KIDS Count Data Book, an annual report on how children are doing nationally and in individual states.

Among the key findings: despite some positive economic changes, childhood poverty stubbornly persists.

“About 1.7 million more children live in low-income working families today than during the Great Recession,” the foundation explains on its website. “In 2013, one in four children, 18.7 million, lived in a low-income working family in the United States. Nearly a third of children are living in families where no parent has full-time employment. And even when parents are working full time, wages and benefits are often not sufficient to adequately support a family.”

The Data Book “showed some signs of slight improvement, including high school graduation rates at an all-time high and a falling percentage of uninsured children. But the bright spots weren’t enough to offset a picture that many children have been left behind amid the nation’s economic recovery,” according to a news story from the Associated Press. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children


The action never seems to stop in preschool classrooms. But appearances can be deceiving. Researchers from the University of Washington report that children are not always getting enough opportunities for active play.

“Parents feel as if their young children are constantly in motion. But new research suggests that children in preschool have few opportunities for active play and are often sedentary,” a blog on the New York Times’ Motherlode website says.

To conduct this study — “Active Play Opportunities at Child Care” — researchers observed 98 children attending 10 preschools in Seattle. Each preschool was observed for four full days.

The study found that children’s activity was 73 percent sedentary, 13 percent light, and 14 percent of what researchers call “moderate-vigorous physical activity.”

The study found “that for 88 percent of child care time, children were not presented opportunities for active play, so the finding that more than 70 percent of children’s time was sedentary is not surprising.”  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

How are our kids doing? That’s the question New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) has been asking in a series called “The First Decade: Early Childhood Disparities and the Future of N.H.’s Kids.”

So we’re taking a look at our New England neighbor to get a sense of how some of this region’s children are doing.

“When it comes to kids’ well-being, New Hampshire ranks high overall in survey after survey. But the real picture of how kids are faring goes deeper than that,” NHPR’s website explains. “Children in poor families continue to lose ground in everything from access to health care to quality education to opportunities to play sports.”

Worse, the opportunity gap between children from lower and higher ends of the income spectrum is likely to grow.

“On the whole, we’ve found that while children in New Hampshire are somewhat better off than those across the nation,” the website notes, “New Hampshire still has a growing trend in inequality in terms of poverty and family income, where low-income children and poor children are on the rise after decades of decline and income is pretty much all but stagnated for those in lower income groups in the past 50 years, but it has actually increased for families in higher income groups. This means that more and more, there is this likely growing gap in outcomes between worse- and better-off children in New Hampshire.”  (more…)

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Last Week, Fort Worth, Tx., hosted a statewide summit on early learning, and public radio station KERA conducted an interview of three of the summit’s experts: a pediatrician, an economist, and a business leader, about “how early childhood programs and elementary educators can better prepare kids for academic success.”

The three interviewees are:

Dr. Neal Halfon, a pediatrics professor and director of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities

James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning, University of Chicago professor of economics, and

Robert H. Dugger, Chairman of the ReadyNation Advisory Board and Invest in Kids Working Group

The conversation covers achievement gaps, parent engagement, kindergarten readiness, and the importance of being able to play well with others.

Of these crucial social and emotional skills, Dugger says, “From the business community, we think of these more as executive skills. These are the skills that enable a person to work effectively in a team.”

“If these skills are not in place by age 5 — kindergarten entry — they frequently don’t appear. We know that addressing them before age 5 works.”

To hear more, listen to the interview. It’s posted on KERA’s website and can also be downloaded.

And consider making a comment on the interview’s webpage to stir up the conversation on the importance of high-quality early education and care.

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Image: Raising of America

Image: Courtesy of the Raising of America project

A new documentary is being released this fall: “The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation.” The project, which also includes a multimedia series, “will reframe the way we look at early child health and development,” according to the temporary website.

The project “explores how a strong start for all our kids leads not only to better individual life course outcomes (learning, earning and physical and mental health) but also to a healthier, safer, better educated, more prosperous, and more equitable America.”

In a preview of the documentary, Judith Lichtman, senior advisor for the National Partnership for Women and Families, outlines the national challenge of supporting family. “We talk a good game in this country about being family friendly. But in providing for the economic and social needs of families we are woefully behind other countries.” (more…)

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