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Governor Gina Raimondo at the Early Childhood Center in Johnston, R.I. Source: Gina Raimondo’s Flickr page.

 

Now that election season is over and governors have been sworn into office, they’re making good on their promises to expand “preschool and other early-childhood programs,” according to a recent article in Education Week.

Across the country, governors are building on the early education legacy left by the Obama administration, including the federally funded Preschool Expansion Grants. This state-level leadership is crucial, particularly now when the Trump administration is focusing less on early learning.

“I think right now it’s unrealistic to expect a big push for pre-K from the federal government,” Aaron Loewenberg, an education policy analyst with the think tank New America, told Education Week.

Fortunately, that’s not having an impact on governors. (more…)

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“On February 5, 2019, President Trump addressed the nation and declared the State of the Union strong. But something was conspicuously absent. Education, specifically early education, is a fundamental necessity in any strong union, or nation, and yet, was a missing piece of the President’s address.”

“Throughout the entirety of his speech, there were key themes including the value of research and technological advances. Over the last century, technology has led to innovative growth and advancements that drive a stronger economy. However, the fundamental and necessary means to achieve these advancements were noticeably absent — a strong, national education system.”

“Mr. President, you forgot one thing. The children.” By Mark Reilly, Vice President of Policy & Government Relations of Jumpstart, a national early education nonprofit. Posted on Medium, February 7, 2019

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“As the 116th Congress gets underway, refiling the Child Care for Working Families Act should be on its to-do list.”

[The bill would, in part, ensure “that no low- to moderate-income family pays more than 7 percent of its household income on child care.”]

“The financial burden placed on young families seeking quality care and education for their children isn’t sustainable. In a June 2018 survey of 1,657 registered voters nationally, 83 percent of parents with children under five had “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problems finding appropriate care. At 54 percent, even most voters without young children said that finding quality, affordable child care is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem in their area.

“That’s probably why support for greater public investment in early care and education is overwhelmingly popular across political divides and party lines.

“Early Education Should Be On The 116th Congress’ Agenda. Here’s Why,” an opinion piece by Anne Douglass, WGBH

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When parents across the country can’t find child care, the economy loses a staggering $57 billion per year in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue.

That’s a crisis, according to a new report — “Want to Grow the Economy? Fix the Child Care Crisis” — released by ReadyNation, an organization of business executives who are “building a skilled workforce by promoting solutions that prepare children to succeed in education, work, and life.”

“The practical and economic consequences of insufficient child care are enormous, impacting parents, employers, and taxpayers.”

The report notes that parents face shortages in three areas: access, affordability, and quality. Specifically:

• “Nearly one-third of parents (32 percent) report having difficulty finding child care.”

• “The average annual cost of center-based child care for infants is more than the average cost of public college tuition and fees in 28 states,” and

• “Only 11 percent of child care nationwide is accredited.” (more…)

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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. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

 

Census 2020 is coming. So now is the time to make sure all of the nation’s children get counted.

“If we don’t count children, we render their needs invisible and their futures uncertain,” Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says in a foundation blog post. “A major census undercount will result in overcrowded classrooms, shuttered Head Start programs, understaffed hospital emergency rooms, and more kids without health care.”

How many children could be missed? One million or more.

According to a Los Angeles Times article: “The problem has grown worse over the last four decades, experts said. In 2010, the census failed to count nearly 1 million children younger than 5. Experts warn that it could exceed that number in 2020.”

Casey says an undercount of this size would “short-change child well-being over the next decade by putting at risk hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funding for programs that are critical to family stability and opportunity.” (more…)

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