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Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

 

Back in 1965, the federal government launched Head Start. It was a national preschool program for low-income families and part of the war that President Lyndon Johnson declared on poverty.

Today, Head Start serves 900,000 children a year at a cost of $9.6 billion in 2017. And the program is praised by its graduates, including Massachusetts State Senator Sal DiDomenico. But Head Start also has critics who have challenged its value and suggested that over time, the program’s benefits fade.

Now a new study from the University of Michigan gives critics an answer. Head Start works. It produces lifelong benefits for children and a solid return on investment for taxpayers.

To conduct the study, researchers “used longitudinal data from children who attended Head Start between 1965 and 1980,” according to the First Five Years Fund. This data set was linked to “long-form 2000 Census and 2001-2013 American Community Surveys” as well as to birth information from the Social Security Administration. Continue Reading »

“…in this era of snapchats, tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts, putdowns and smack-downs, I’d ask you all to remember that good public policy is about perseverance and collaboration.

“Many times, it is a story written frame by frame by many players who write it over time, relentlessly pursuing an objective.”

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“We doubled the earned income tax credit for 450,000 low income working families, invested over $100 million in new funding into our early education system and reduced the use of hotels and motels to shelter homeless families by over 95%.”

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“Twenty-five years ago, Massachusetts wasn’t a national leader in public education.

“Since then, we’ve achieved remarkable success by working together on a series of education reforms. As a result, Massachusetts students have scored number one on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exams in English and math for much of the past decade. And last year finished first on the Advanced Placement exams as well.

“But when it comes to the difference in performance between urban and suburban school districts, we can and must do better.”

“Transcript: Gov. Baker’s Inaugural Address For His 2nd Term,” WBUR, January 3, 2019

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

What does early education and care look like in Massachusetts? Is it mostly center-based? Or are families mostly relying on grandma and their next-door neighbors?

Answers are emerging from the Early Learning Study being run by the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE).

Drawing from a survey of 90,000 Massachusetts households, researchers found that:

• 55 percent of families were enrolled in formal care settings

• 14 percent enrolled in informal care settings

• 14 percent used a mix of formal and informal care, and

• 17 percent of children were care for solely by their parents Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

A new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center offers key advice to states: Focus on making early childhood systems more efficient and effective.

“This issue is important for two reasons,” the report says. “First, support for early childhood programs can only be sustained if the programs are viewed as effective and efficient in their use of public funds.”

Second, inefficiencies can create “real obstacles to access” for the very children that states want to reach.

“When families have to apply to multiple programs, housed across multiple agencies, often with duplicative paperwork requirements and inconsistent eligibility criteria, many simply give up.”

Improving efficiency is demanding work. States have to manage their own early childhood funds, and they receive child care funding from multiple federal sources including Child Care Development Block Grants, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Each funding stream has its own rules and requirements. Continue Reading »

Happy holidays!

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Have a great holiday season! The blog will be back in January, 2019.

 

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Across the country, parents are discovering that they live in “child care deserts,” communities where they can’t find an appropriate spot for their children.

This is a particularly tough problem for the parents of very young children, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress called, “Understanding Infant and Toddler Child Care Deserts.”

The report looks at supply and demand in nine states — Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia — and in Washington, D.C.

Nationally, child child care deserts aren’t just a problem in large, rural states, but also in the rural areas of smaller states — and anywhere where demand for child care is greater than supply. Past studies have shown, for example, that Massachusetts has a deficit of 93,119 child care slots. So when current programs are full to capacity, nearly 1 in 4 Massachusetts children is left without access to child care.” Continue Reading »

Screenshot: Center for American Progress

 

Now that Election Day is over, the country has a new cohort of leaders — and new opportunities to make progress on early education.

That’s the theme of a new report — “Early Childhood Agenda for Governors in 2019” — from the Center for American Progress.

“With 20 new governors and 16 re-elected governors starting new terms in January,” the report notes, “2019 has the potential to be a year of big change at the state level. This is particularly the case in the early childhood policy arena, as many newly elected governors discussed early childhood education as part of their campaigns.”  Continue Reading »

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