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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Quick, grab a book, because today “is the launch of a new Read Where You Are day of action to raise awareness and encourage reading.”

Read Where You Are is being launched by the White House and the U.S. Department of Education to promote children’s literacy and school-readiness in the fall.

“Young people who do not read over the summer fall behind their classmates, especially low-income students,” the Read Where You Are website says.

“Research shows that summer learning loss adds up, especially for low-income students. By 8th grade, that lost learning time accounts for 2/3 of the achievement gap between low-income children and their more affluent peers.

“Reading over the summer makes a difference during the school year. When students are able to keep reading, they can keep learning, catch up, stay sharp and are more prepared when the new school year begins.” (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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“When policymakers and citizens talk about expanding children’s access to high-quality early education, they sometimes overlook the need for a stable stream of funding for early education programs. Instead, programs serving children birth-to-five are typically funded by a patchwork of streams blended or braided together to serve as many children as possible. Without dedicated funding for early care and education, state agencies are left to piece together revenue sources for their youngest children. Unsurprisingly, this leaves many states, including South Carolina, with underfunded programs.”

“Funding Education for our Youngest Learners,” by Kaycie Gillette-Mallard, a post on the New America Foundation’s EdCentral blog, July 13, 2015

 

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Oregon is taking a bold step forward by expanding preschool opportunities for children from families whose incomes are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

“On the last day of the 2015 Oregon legislative session, the Oregon Senate approved a bill that will make high-quality preschool available for more children from low-income families in the state,” the nonprofit Alliance for Early Success explains on its website.

“The Legislature’s approval of the preschool legislation will give 1,350 more Oregon 3- and 4-year-olds the opportunity to access the quality preschools that can get them ready for kindergarten and for long-lasting school success.” The Alliance for Early Success unites state, national, and funding partners and advances policies that lead to improved outcomes for young children ages 0 to 8. (more…)

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Photo Source: Governor Inslee's Facebook page

Photo Source: Governor Jay Inslee’s Facebook page

“I signed a landmark bill for our state’s littlest learners today. The Early Start Act will help more than 48,000 children get access to quality early learning thanks to historic new levels of funding. This is about creating a continuum of education which starts with our youngest learners, and extends right on through college. Thanks to everyone who helped fight this fight. It doesn’t end here, but today – we celebrate!”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee writing on his Facebook page, July 6, 2015

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“I want to congratulate Gov. Jay Inslee, educators, and other leaders in Washington state on the Early Start Act, which will improve early learning opportunities for over 48,000 children, building on the successes the state’s Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge grant. It’s a huge step toward a vision for a comprehensive early learning system that will make Washington a leader in doing the right thing for our youngest children. I hope more states will answer President Obama’s call to expand early learning opportunities – and that Congress will support them.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a statement, July 7, 2015

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“Woooohoooooo! Fantastic news for SO many early learners & ECE professionals throughout our state! Thank you Governor Inslee for remaining focused on our most valuable resource! Advocate, educate, legislate! ♡”

Beka Johnston, commenting on Governor Inslee’s Facebook post, July 7, 2015

 

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

How are America’s babies doing? The national nonprofit Zero to Three has compiled telling answers in its 2015 State Baby Facts, a collection of fact sheets for all 50 states.

“The State Baby Facts present infant and toddler data in the framework of good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences,” Zero to Three explains on its website.

The data comes from a number of sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), the National Governors Association, and the March of Dimes. A reference list is online.

One of the biggest challenges for babies and toddlers is poverty. Nationally, 25 percent are poor and 23 percent are “near poor,” according to the 2013 NCCP figures in this Zero to Three slide presentation.

And poverty has long-term consequences.

“Economic hardship often goes hand in hand with other environmental stresses,” the slide presentation explains, adding a list of complicating factors: (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Federal officials have come up with promising, new plans for improving Head Start — including longer program days and years — but this growth can only happen if Congress provides the necessary funding.

Back in 2007, Congress asked the Office of Head Start to update its performance standards.

The result is a newly released proposal, the “Head Start Performance Standards,” from the Administration for Children and Families, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“This is the first comprehensive overhaul of the standards since they were first published in 1975,” according to EdCentral, a New America Foundation blog. “Both the early education landscape and our knowledge of the science of early learning have changed dramatically in the last 40 years, and understandably, many of the performance standards were in need of an update.”

EdCentral adds: “These new standards give Head Start a much-needed makeover without changing the core purpose and function of the program. The proposed standards are up for public comment until August 18, 2015.” (more…)

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