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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. Continue Reading »

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

 

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: Continue Reading »

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.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Rahm Emanuel.  Photo Source: Chicago Mayor's Office Facebook page

Rahm Emanuel.
Photo Source: Chicago Mayor’s Office Facebook page

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Public Library (CPL) today announced a mobile early learning program to deliver early learning enrichment opportunities in neighborhoods where children can benefit from additional enrichment experiences. The services will be delivered on-site at over 200 early childhood centers in high priority, high need communities. The STEAM mobile units will allow the city to serve approximately 8,000 children per year through multiple visits…

“The curriculum, developed collaboratively with the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry and aligned with Early Head Start standards, includes several hands-on STEAM learning activities for young children along with family literacy programming facilitated by librarians. CPL will dispatch three vans with these STEAM-based learning kits throughout the city – one for each Library District.”

“Mayor Emanuel Announces Mobile STEAM and Early Learning Outreach Services,” a press release from the City of Chicago, June 16, 2015

“If our children cannot get to some of Chicago’s world-class cultural institutions, the City of Chicago will bring the education that those institutions provide directly to their classrooms… The STEAM mobile units will give more students access to this high quality learning model, ensuring that they are prepared for a successful future.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, quoted in the article “Chicago Rolls Out Mobile Early Childhood Learning Services Focused On STEM And Art,” ChicagoInno, June 17, 2015

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Understanding the importance of the birth-to-third-grade continuum, school districts are leading efforts to strengthen programming and create better alignment between preschool and grade school programs.

One example is California where some school districts are reaching beyond their K-12 responsibilities to “to meet the needs of the youngest low-income children who live within their district boundaries – infants and toddlers,” according to an Edsource article.

These efforts are happening against a backdrop of state support. Last month, Governor Jerry Brown signed a fiscal year 2016 budget that “includes over $300 million in increased investments and important policy developments for early care and education,” according to the nonprofit advocacy organization Early Edge California.

But there’s still a lot of work for to be done, and not enough funding to do it.  Continue Reading »

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