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Congresswoman Lori Trahan; Pat Nelson, Executive Director of the Concord Children’s Center; Amy O’Leary, Early Education for All Campaign Director at Strategies for Children. Photo: Eric Stein

 

“I was honored to speak briefly at the Kathy Reticker Forum’s screening of No Small MatterThe film addressed the question ‘Why, when the importance of quality early care is so widely accepted and known, do we continue to fail so many children?’

“It is an important question to ask. Our children are America’s most valuable resource, yet across our country, too many families don’t have access to high-quality, affordable early learning and care that will help them thrive without breaking the bank. Programs like Head Start and grants like Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG) are investments that bring real and positive results to our communities. That’s why I fight hard in Congress to support and grown them. These programs have a proven track record of success in Massachusetts and around the country, and are exactly the type of investments our federal government should be making when it comes to the children and families that are most in need.

“I’m also proud to be working on a number of other pieces of legislation like the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, which dramatically expands access to quality, affordable child care for all families. Congress can and must make progress on this important issue. There’s work to be done.”

 

– U.S. Representative Lori Trahan (D-MA 3rd District)

Retired Brigadier Generals Jack Hammond and Gary Pappas. Photo courtesy of Mission:Readiness.

 

Retired Brigadier Generals Jack Hammond and Gary Pappas came to Boston earlier this month to talk about the link between child care and the military – and about the findings in a new, related report, “Child Care and National Security: How greater access to high-quality child care in Massachusetts can help improve military readiness.”

The upshot: high-quality child care is a key ingredient in preparing children to become successful adults who could serve in the military. But right now, most of this state’s potential military candidates could not join the armed forces because of poor health, limited educational attainment, and histories of illegal activities.

“If a basic part of the population, 70 percent roughly [in Massachusetts], cannot pass a simple entrance exam,” Pappas says in an NECN interview, “you have a recruiting problem.” Continue Reading »

Sally Fuller

Contrary to what you may have heard, Sally Fuller has not completely retired.

Strategies for Children is excited to announce that Fuller, a long-time colleague and friend, has joined our board.

“I have such tremendous respect for what Strategies has done and continues to do,” Fuller told us recently.

As we’ve blogged before, Fuller worked for the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, where she started in 2005 as the project direct for Cherish Every Child, the foundation’s early childhood initiative.

“The Davis family cares deeply about education. That’s their overarching commitment,” Fuller explains. “They knew Margaret Blood,” the founder of Strategies for Children, “and they brought Margaret to Springfield to work with them.”

The Davis Foundation came to sum up its intentions in a single question, Fuller says: “How can we work together to put children at the center of the community’s agenda?”

“That’s how the Cherish Every Child initiative was started at the foundation, and they needed someone to work full time, so that’s why I went there.”

Fuller, the foundation, and community partners across Springfield worked on expanding early education opportunities and on ensuring that more of the city’s children could read proficiently by the third grade.

“We know from a childhood development standpoint how critical that was,” Fuller says of herself and John Davis (a senior director at the foundation), who had looked at the data and seen that only one third of Springfield’s children could read at grade level by the end of third grade. “We started to do this before it became fashionable. The National Campaign for Grade Level Reading started a year after we did. So, I can very honestly say that we were building the plane as we were flying it.” Continue Reading »

“ ‘A child is only 4 once, so each year that passes without families having the ability to put those children in pre-K is a huge lost opportunity,’ said Ann Murtlow, president and CEO of the United Way of Central Indiana, a leading early learning advocate.

“Indiana has taken some small steps to help its neediest families access pre-K, with lawmakers voting this year to open up the state’s $22 million fledgling pre-K program statewide.

“But even with that change, Indiana has barely made a dent in improving early childhood access, advocates say: The income-based voucher program reaches just under 3,000 of what advocates estimate to be 27,000 4-year-olds from low-income families, with a rocky rollout that has left about 1,000 available spots unfilled.

“ ‘We’ve come a long way, but we should make no mistake that we still have a very long way to go,’ Murtlow said.”

“This year, the state program, known as On My Way Pre-K, has grown to serve nearly 3,000 children. But with $22 million in funding, it has room for many more. State officials have run into obstacles trying to expand the program’s reach in rural areas. They’re struggling to keep the application process simple and raise awareness of the opportunity among parents.”

“Most 4-year-olds are left out of Indiana’s preschool expansion,” by Stephanie Wang, Chalkbeat Indiana, June 12, 2019

Why change an organization’s name?

To better share its impact.

That’s why the Parent-Child Home Program has changed its name to ParentChild+.

“People often focused on only one aspect of what we do, early literacy. But our staff, participating families, and program communities know we are so much more,” Sarah Walzer, CEO of ParentChild,+ says of the name change, which was made in April.

The bigger picture is that the organization “uses education to break the cycle of poverty for low-income families. We engage early in life and help toddlers, their parents, and their family child care providers access a path to possibility,” according to its website.

Walzer notes, “Our wonderful network of partners across the country and around the world have engaged with tens of thousands of children and families, working together to transform their lives.” Continue Reading »

 

Child/adult interactions are special and powerful – and don’t get the attention that they deserve.

Junlei Li is working to change that with Simple Interactions, an initiative that seeks to “encourage, enrich, and empower human interactions around children and their helpers.”

As we’ve blogged, Li was the co-director of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College. Now he’s the Saul Zaentz senior lecturer in early childhood education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE).

Li “developed the ‘Simple Interactions’ approach to help identify what ordinary people do extraordinarily well with children in everyday moments and made that the basis for promoting positive system change,” his HGSE website says.

These child/adult interactions can occur in a range of settings, from early childhood and K-12 classrooms to afterschool programs and pediatric hospitals.

Li draws inspiration for his work from Fred Rogers, the famous children’s television show host of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood,” who left an indelible mark on generations of young viewers. Continue Reading »

“This lack of affordable quality child care is a crisis for American families. In 35 states, families pay more for child care than for mortgages, and in no state does the average cost of infant or toddler care meet the federal definition of affordable. On a per-capita basis, we spend roughly six times less on education for infants and toddlers than we do on K-12. This shortchanges our children exactly when the potential benefit is greatest.

“We know from breakthroughs in neuroscience that children’s brains are growing explosively during the first three years of life — developing more than one million neural connections a second. A child’s early brain architecture shapes all future learning and behavior. This is also the period in our lives when we are most vulnerable to trauma.”

“If we care about equal opportunity in this country, we must provide more funding for infants and toddlers.”

“So where do we start?

Six months of paid parental leave is the first step… The second step is improving compensation for early-childhood educators so that they earn the same as schoolteachers…”

“How to End the Child-Care Crisis: A child’s first 1,000 days are a time to be seized,” by By Shael Polakow-Suransky, president of the Bank Street College of Education, The New York Times, May 24, 2019

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