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Archive for the ‘National’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Parents know that early education and child care are expensive. But for a refresher on just how expensive, the Boston Globe recently featured a 50-state map of child care costs across the nation. As the Globe explains, Massachusetts is among the least affordable states with an annual cost of $12,176 for 4-year-olds and $16,430 for infants. Compared to “the state median income for married couples, Massachusetts is the fourth least-affordable state for center-based infant care in the country.”

A recent report from Child Care Aware of America, the data source for the Globe’s map, explains just how high these costs are across the country.

“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers 10 percent of family income for child care as a benchmark for affordable care,” according to Child Care Aware’s “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care 2013 Report.” (more…)

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14359821987_be01fd4731_mYesterday, The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 25th edition of its KIDS COUNT Data Book, a statistical look at children’s well-being.

The report shows that, “Children have a greater opportunity to thrive and succeed in Massachusetts than in any other state,” according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), the home of KIDS COUNT here in the commonwealth.

This is exciting news for Massachusetts, but it comes with an important caveat: There is still much more work to do.

The Massachusetts KIDS COUNT data profile reports that 15 percent of the state’s children lived in poverty in 2012. And despite being first in the nation in education and fourth grade reading, 53 percent of this state’s fourth graders cannot read proficiently. Thirty percent of children have parents who don’t have secure jobs. And while an impressive 99 percent of Massachusetts’s children have health insurance, it’s also true that this state’s children are as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as children across the country.

MassBudget released the new data yesterday at an event hosted by Nurtury (formerly Associated Early Care and Education) in its brand new Learning Lab in Jamaica Plain where Governor Deval Patrick spoke, along with state legislators, local leaders, and Chris Martes, Strategies for Children’s new president and CEO. (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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“By giving more of our kids access to high-quality preschool and other early learning programs — and by helping parents get the tools they need to help their kids succeed — we can give those kids a better shot at the career they are capable of and the life that will make us all better off.

“This is one of my top priorities and I want to thank the growing coalition of researchers, nonprofits, and foundations who have made it one of theirs.”

President Barack Obama in a Too Small to Fail video posted on June 25, 2014

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Summer Learning Day

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Today is Summer Learning Day. Join First Lady Michelle Obama and celebrate.

Summer Learning Day is a national advocacy day that was established to “spread awareness about the importance of summer learning for our nation’s youth,” help close the achievement gap, and support healthy development in communities across the country, according to the National Summer Learning Association’s (NSLA) website.

Otherwise too many children experience a “summer slide,” losing ground on what they’ve learned during the school year.

The first lady will celebrate by speaking at the National Summer Learning Day Fair at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. This event is scheduled by live streamed today, starting at 10:30 a.m.

How can you and your community get involved?

An event map makes it easy to find summer learning day activities near you.

The NSLA suggests publicizing the national event on social media as well as hosting events such as a student conference, a field rip or a storytelling event. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

This month, Michigan and Connecticut scored legislative victories. Both states are making substantial new investments in preschool, dramatically expanding children’s access to high-quality programs.

Michigan’s Story

Michigan’s increased funding will go to the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), which serves children from low-income families.

In 2012, the Center for Michigan’s Bridge Magazine “published a series of articles chronicling how 30,000 Michigan children who qualified for GSRP weren’t in classrooms because of inadequate funding, poor coordination between programs, and lack of transportation.”

Now Bridge has a brighter story to tell.

“More than 10,000 additional Michigan 4-year-olds will likely be in free, high-quality pre-K classrooms this fall, after the House and Senate last night approved a $65 million expansion of the state’s Great Start Readiness Program,” Bridge writer Ron French explained. (more…)

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“Together, you’re an example of what’s possible when we stop just talking about giving young people opportunity, when we don’t just give lip service to helping you compete in the global economy and we actually start doing it. That’s what’s happening right here in Worcester.”

President Barack Obama speaking at Worcester Technical High School’s graduation ceremony, June 11, 2014

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last month, Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill into a law that makes “at least 10 hours a week of high-quality early education available to every 3- and 4-year-old child” in the state, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The new law closes an opportunity gap: while 87 percent of Vermont communities already offer pre-K, 13 percent do not. As Shumlin said, “this bill ensures that no matter where you live, your 3- or 4 year-old will have access to high-quality early education programs, and arrive at school better prepared to learn.”

Shumlin added, “The children who aren’t ready to learn when they begin elementary school are very likely to challenge our resources throughout their school years and potentially throughout their lives.”

“We know that high-quality pre-kindergarten is far less expensive than remediation, retention, and special education later on.”

The payoff of preschool is striking, especially among children from low-income families: “Vermont children from low-income backgrounds who don’t attend pre-kindergarten have a 30 percent probability of being kindergarten ready, while Vermont students from low-income backgrounds with one or two years of pre-kindergarten have up to a 55 percent probability of being kindergarten ready.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray is asking his colleagues in the United States Conference of Mayors to sign on to a resolution that would designate the decade of 2015 – 2025 as a time for building “an Early Learning Nation.”

The resolution calls for community action and asks parents and caregivers to engage in “daily brain-building moments with their children” to highlight the benefits of adult/child conversations.

The resolution’s resonant and ambitious goal is for the children of Generation Alpha – those born between 2010 and 2025 — to “emerge equipped and prepared to resolve issues, assume leadership positions, while generating innovative and long-term solutions for previously intractable and seemingly unsolvable challenges.”

Fifteen mayors have co-sponsored the resolution, including Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh, who recently set up an advisory committee on universal pre-K, and Mayor Angel Taveras of Providence, home of an effort to close the word gap. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Colorado and Hawaii are joining the list of cities and states that are forging ahead on early education by expanding access and quality.

Colorado’s Education Investments

The Colorado Legislature approved a budget deal that invests new funding in early education and K-12.

Chalkbeat Colorado, an educational news website says, “The bottom line is this. The package increases Total Program Funding, the combination of state and local spending that pays for basic school operations, to $5.91 billion in 2014-15 from $5.76 billion this year.”

And as an Associated Press article explains, “Two Colorado education bills aimed at restoring school budgets hurt by years of budget cuts have been signed into law.”

As a result, statewide average per pupil spending is increasing from $6,839 this year to $7,020 next year.

Among the budget’s allocations:

• $27 million for English language learner programs

• $18 million for the READ Act, which provides special services to K-3 students who are behind in reading, and

• $17 million to create 5,000 additional slots for at-risk preschool and kindergarten children

(more…)

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