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Fort Worth, Texas. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

Fort Worth, Texas. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

“It is easy to identify hot-button issues at the Texas Capitol — just look for the fights. For the second session in a row, big battles are brewing around pre-K. In recent days, the rhetoric around pre-K funding has heated up, with the major political players proposing vastly different funding proposals or perhaps no funding at all.”

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“Parents and taxpayers understand that higher quality pre-K in turn maximizes every dollar that is spent on further education, all the way up through college. When we put ourselves first, we prepare ourselves for the future. When we put Texas first, we ensure that in years to come, we will have educated and productive citizens ready to help expand our economy.

“The Texas Legislature has a clear choice to make with respect to allocating $236 million to the High Quality Pre-K Grant Program. The choice it makes will determine whether Texans will remember the 2017 Texas Legislature for its divisions, arguments and neglect — or as the year it started putting Texas first.”

“Commentary: Don’t mess with Texas’ future; fund high quality pre-K,” by Bob Sanborn and Steve Jones, Special to the American-Statesman, February 22, 2017

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How can researchers talk so that policymakers will listen?

Child Trends has a new brief – as well as a webinar – that covers the best ways to share research with elected officials and other policy leaders.

“We’ve seen here at Child Trends… a real growth in what we at the federal level call evidence-based policymaking. It’s really a movement,” Elizabeth Jordan, a Child Trends senior policy analyst, explains in the webinar.

“It’s really a way for policymakers and advocates on both sides of the aisle to find consensus,” “We all want to do what we know works for vulnerable children and their families.”

How can research have more of an impact on policy? Child Trends points to several examples, including how research on home visiting programs showed ““Rigorous evidence of the short- and long-term positive outcomes for children and families who participated…”

The result: the administration created a new federal home visiting program.”

So, what should researchers and advocates know about reaching policymakers? Continue Reading »

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Ivanka Trump could be a champion for child care – and for lower child care costs.

That’s the argument that former Boston Globe columnist Joanna Weiss makes in a recent Globe opinion piece.

Weiss also asks a key question: Who should take care of very young children?

The answer is complicated. Obviously, parents play the most vital role. But what should happen when both parents work? And how does the country cope with the fact that many of the families who most need child care struggle to afford it?

Weiss says Ivanka Trump could help forge an answer.

“As the president’s daughter chats up bigwigs and members of Congress [to support working women], here’s hoping she’ll bring up the most fundamental challenge for working families: the impossible economics of child care.”

Last year, another Globe opinion piece took on the high cost of child care, noting: Continue Reading »

“The push for high-quality universal pre-K for four-year-olds, now embraced by a growing number of political and thought leaders, is strangely isolated from the movement supporting child care for working mothers. Focusing solely on four-year-old children may make for good politics, but by itself it falls short. Good policy takes into account the science of early childhood brain development, the needs of working mothers with younger children, and provides disadvantaged infants and toddlers with the high-quality child care that has been proven to promote success in school and later on in life.”

“Combining quality child care with preschool promotes social mobility across generations,” by James J. Heckman and J.B. Pritzker, The Hill, February 9, 2017

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

 

The Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program is getting a makeover. The program’s scholarships help early childhood and after-school educators earn college degrees – either an associate or a bachelor’s.

The scholarship launched 10 years ago. It was added to the Massachusetts state budget thanks to the efforts of legislative leaders and advocates, including Strategies for Children. At the time, data showed that only 30 percent of center-based early educators held a BA or higher degree.

The scholarship is greatly appreciated by teachers. As Jennie Antunes, an early educator and scholarship recipient from New Bedford, told us:

“Even though I had been doing this work for so long, there was so much more I wanted to learn to strengthen my teaching. I take great pride in my accomplishments, proving to myself that I could work full time as well as attend school full time.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Why does the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs care if a child eats an apple?

Because the alliance is trying to change the world. Instead of couches and chips, the alliance is working to expose children to more fresh food and physical activity.

One goal is to protect kids from obesity and developing obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

But this effort may well do a lot more. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out, healthier students are better learners. Better learners are more likely to graduate from high school. And “Better-educated individuals live longer, healthier lives than those with less education, and their children are more likely to thrive,” according to a policy brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In other words, kids who habitually eat apples and ride bikes could be laying a foundation for decades of success – for themselves and their descendants.

What’s the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCA’s doing with this information?

Bringing it to the preschool arena. Continue Reading »

A series featuring communities that have a plan to expand preschool.
A preschool class at Little People’s College that engages in community partnerships with local police.

A preschool class at Little People’s College that engages in a community partnership with local police.

There are 7,805 children under age 6 living in New Bedford. A young child raised in our city is more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line as an average Massachusetts child (38 percent versus 17 percent).

If it were funded, New Bedford’s Preschool Expansion Strategic Plan would, over a two-year period, add 10 new full-day preschool classrooms for children ages 2.9-5 years in four preschool centers and one public school.  Located throughout the city, these new classrooms would be supplemented with  comprehensive services for 200 children. These services would include speech evaluations, special education referrals, mental health services and screening for child development, as well as health, hearing, vision, and dental services. 

Family Advocates would provide parents and children with the necessary referrals. The program would serve children of all abilities, and it would be free of charge to parents.

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