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Archive for the ‘Federal’ Category

 

The Ounce has released its 2019 State Policy Update Report.

It’s a “snapshot of states’ early childhood education policy priorities and budgetary changes during the 2019 legislative sessions.”

“We are excited to share highlights from each state that illustrate the persistent work of early childhood advocates, program providers, public officials ,and many other stakeholders who continue to move the field forward in creating environments in which young children and families can thrive,” a report overview says.

This year’s survey digs deep, asking survey respondents to:

• categorize 2019’s legislative, administrative and budgetary changes

• describe any work they did to advance federal policy, and

• identify and share stories about elected officials who are “early childhood champions”

The report also looks at early intervention programs; families’ mental health; workforce and professional development efforts; as well as revenue, governance, and data. (more…)

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Local communities are ready for preschool expansion, but often lack the funds to get started. Absent a clear federal or state path for preschool expansion, innovative local leaders are forging ahead using a variety of collaborative approaches.

Last week, Strategies for Children hosted a webinar on this topic: “Local Preschool Financing Strategies in Massachusetts.” Three communities presented their work, and 15 other communities participated in the webinar.

Here’s a recap of the event and the topics we discussed.

We heard from Holyoke, Springfield, and Boston, all communities that are leading the way on financing more preschool spots for children through a mixed-delivery system.

Presentations were made by: (more…)

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“In June, the city of Memphis, Tennessee, lost funding for 1,000 pre-K slots due to an expiring federal grant.”

“Instead of passively accepting the void in federal leadership, cities such as Memphis are finding innovative ways to bring together the public, private and nonprofit sectors to finance and expand needed services for children, and increasing pressure on local officials to reinvest in child services.”

“Pittsburgh provides a good example of a community that successfully implemented an innovative method to fund youth programming. In 2008, the One Hill Coalition, a diverse group of 100 community groups in the city, brokered a collective-bargaining agreement with the developers of the new Pittsburgh Penguins arena. The agreement created a youth center and invested $8.3 million in neighborhood improvements, much of which went toward youth development programs.

“Similarly, the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, set an example by advocating for children and dedicating tax revenue from business tax breaks set to expire. These funds are going directly to pre-K programming, helping to cover the loss of funding for 1,000 seats due to declining federal investment. In total, the revenues will bring the city an estimated $6 million annually by 2022.”

“Opinion: Cities find new ways to fill pre-K funding holes left by the federal government,” by Jennifer Davis and Elizabeth Gaines, The Hechinger Report, September 24, 2019

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“ ‘It was clear that the PEG program did what it was designed to do — support 48 of the highest quality preschool classrooms in the state,’ said Amy O’Leary, director of the Early Education for All Campaign for Strategies for Children.

“The grant supported educator compensation and professional development, comprehensive services and family engagement, and full-day/full-year programming for children from very low-income families, O’Leary said.

“ ‘We are all familiar with national research on the benefits of high-quality early education and only a handful of local evaluations have been conducted in this state,’ O’Leary said. ‘The PEG evaluation is the most comprehensive and most promising. It sheds light on how to continue to build high-quality preschool programming here in Massachusetts.’ ”

 

“Study finds success in Springfield preschool program,” by Carolyn Robbins, MassLive.com, August 15, 2019

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Congress is on summer recess.

Which means that many U.S. senators and representatives are back in their districts – making right now a great time for advocacy.

What can you do? The Ounce and the First Five Years Fund have collected some good ideas in a toolkit and related state fact sheets.

“As Congressional delegates return to their home states, we encourage you to capitalize on this opportunity to highlight the great work happening in your state around early childhood programs by inviting your federal legislators to visit local early learning programs,” an email from National Policy Team at the Ounce says.

One way to start: Thank members of Congress for their bipartisan support of early education and care, then encourage them to do more.

Congress has already:

• made a historic, $2.37 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program in fiscal year 2018

• increased funding for Head Start and Early Head Start as well as for IDEA Preschool Grants, which support children with disabilities, and

• created the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five program which gives states funds to assess their preschool needs and improve their early learning systems (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Even though its federally funded Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) has run out, Springfield, Mass., is continuing to grow its preschool program.

“We win or lose the game at the preschool level,” Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Warwick said when his city won the federal grant.

The PEG grant supported 195 children in 11 classrooms through a mixed-delivery system that included the nonprofit organizations Square One, Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield Head Start, and the YMCA of Greater Springfield.

Now, building on the catalyst of PEG grant funding, Warwick is ensuring that young children will keep winning.

“After a successful pilot program last year,” MassLive.com reports, “Warwick said the preschool programming will be extended to include 19 schools for a total of 643 seats, representing a district investment of more than $1.5 million.”

“Research shows that high-quality preschool provides a substantial head start for young students,” Warwick says in the article.

For children, the payoff is huge: (more…)

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Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

How bad are high child care costs?

Even though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says families should only spend 7 percent of their income on child care, it turns out that working families with children younger than age 5 are spending on average nearly 10 percent of their income.

That’s one of the troubling findings in a new issue brief – “Working Families Are Spending Big Money on Child Care” — from the Center for American Progress.

Without affordable child care, it’s harder for parents to go to work and harder in turn for them to earn the middle-class salaries that can provide families with long-term stability. This is a particularly tough challenge in Massachusetts where the Coalition for Social Justice – which Strategies for Children is a member of — is campaigning for affordable child care.

“Absent large-scale policy action on this issue,” the brief says, “young adults have reported child care expenses as the top reason they are having fewer children than they would like. In fact, in 2018, the U.S. fertility rate fell to a record low for the third straight year, falling below the replacement rate needed to keep the population constant from one generation to the next.” (more…)

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