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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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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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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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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Mental health matters, especially in early childhood. That’s why the Massachusetts Early Childhood Mental Health Partnership has released a new tool for providers and programs that want to integrate child mental health into pediatric primary care.

The new “Early Childhood Mental Health Toolkit: Integrating Mental Health Services into the Pediatric Medical Home” presents a model that is based on “a partnership between a family partner and mental health clinician,” according to the partnership’s website.

“A small change at the pediatrician’s office can make a large difference for all U.S. children,” the website says. “Integrating early childhood mental health staff, services, and systems into pediatric practices, also known as medical homes, transforms primary care visits into holistic visits that care for the physical and mental health of a young child.”

It’s a whole-child approach that can help families access services more quickly.

“While some mental health needs clearly call for the services of a specialist,” the website explains, “experience indicates that with adequate supports, the pediatric (more…)

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