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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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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Education Week magazine has released its Quality Counts 2015 report. It is a sweeping collection of articles and data that provide a thorough look at the educational opportunities and challenges that the country faces.

The subtitle of this year’s report is “Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown,” highlighting the report’s focus on early education research and practice at the national, state, and local levels.

Noting in a press release that “support for early-childhood education has become a rare point of consensus along the ideological and political spectrum,” EdWeek points out that this consensus is only a starting point. There are still “disagreements over funding strategies and policy approaches threaten to unravel tenuous alliances that have bridged the partisan divide.”

Specifically, the report looks at how “new academic demands and accountability pressures are reshaping the learning environment for young children and the teachers and administrators serving them.” Education Week journalists explored:

- the policy debates surrounding publicly funded programs
– cutting-edge research on the early years, and,
– the academic and technological challenges that await the nation’s youngest learners  (more…)

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“People everywhere are realizing that a lifetime of success starts in early learning experiences. I’m Shakira, and I’m proud to support quality early childhood development. When we invest in them, we invest in us.”

Shakira, Invest in US video, part of the Invest in US campaign, December 10, 2014

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Full-day preschool programs just got some good news. A new research study found that children who attend full-day programs are more school-ready than those who attend half-day programs.

“This is the first study to comprehensively examine the results of lengthening the preschool day and it has national implications, when only half of students who enter kindergarten each year are fully prepared,” study co-author Arthur Reynolds says in a University of Minnesota news release. Reynolds is a professor at the university’s Institute of Child Development.

According to the news release, “Reynolds says that early childhood education programs have long been known to be key to preparing children for later school success. Now, however, he sees the bigger question to be the effect of increased learning time in early childhood education programs.”

The study — published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association — looked at children in 11 Chicago schools during the 2012-2013 school year. The children were a “nonrandomized, matched-group cohort of predominantly low-income, ethnic minority children.” Of these, 409 were enrolled in the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) for a full, seven-hour day. And 573 were enrolled in part-day programs that ran on average for three hours.  (more…)

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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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