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Photo Source: National Head Start Twitter feed

 

This week, hundreds of families from all 50 states traveled to Washington, D.C., to be part of the advocacy effort Strolling Thunder.

Launched last year, Strolling Thunder is an opportunity for families to tell their child care stories. The goal is to “make sure that Congress thinks babies,” according to Myra Jones-Taylor, the chief policy officer of the national nonprofit Zero to Three, which sponsored the event.

“It’s really important that our legislators are taking care of our kids’ futures because it’s our country’s future too,” Amy Lingerfelt, a Kansas mom, told ABC news. Lingerfelt came to Strolling Thunder with her husband her 2-year-old son, Noah, who has a sensory processing disorder.

The family relies on WIC, a federal nutrition program, to be able to afford a special formula that Noah needs.

“There’s no way our family would be able to afford that without WIC,” Lingerfelt explained. That’s why, “Protecting and increasing funding for programs like WIC is just one of the policy priorities of Strolling Thunder.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has released its annual yearbook — a comprehensive look at publicly-funded preschool programs — and found a mix of progress and stagnation: There are more preschool spots, but states aren’t investing enough in program quality. This year’s assessment also includes a special report on Dual Language Learners.

“Recent changes in federal policy – including the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – make it clear that progress in early education depends more than ever on the states,” NIEER Senior Co-Director Steven Barnett said.

Looking at the 2016-2017 academic year, the Yearbook notes that:

• across the country “state-funded preschool program enrollment exceeded 1.5 million children” or “33 percent of 4-year-olds and 5 percent of 3-year-olds”

• state funding for preschool rose two percent to some $7.6 billion, an increase of nearly $155 million (adjusted for inflation) since 2015-2016

• state funding per child was $5,008, a slight decline from 2015-16 adjusted for inflation

• 3 state-funded preschool programs met all 10 new quality standards benchmarks

• 10 programs met fewer than half, and

• 7 states do not invest any state dollars in preschool

In its assessment of state policies for Dual Language Learners, NIEER reduces its findings to two words: “Needs Improvement.”  (more…)

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“I thought I was supposed to be so joyful. I had a healthy, beautiful, wonderful baby, but I was terrified. I was terrified how I would make ends meet.”

That’s the story of one of three moms who are featured in a new video, “Child Care Is Hard but It Doesn’t Have to Be,” released by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).

While NWLC was excited to celebrate the federal government’s recent investment in child care, the organization is calling on policymakers to do more.

“The next step is maintaining and increasing this funding next year and beyond, then passing the Child Care for Working Families Act!” Helen Blank, NWLC’s director of Child Care and Early Learning, said in a recent email.

Just over two-and-a-half minutes long, the video packs a powerful personal and policy punch. So please share the video and use some of NWLC’s social media messaging.

Here are a few examples of Facebook posts: (more…)

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Last week — and part of this week — people across the nation celebrated the Week of the Young Child (WOYC).

This annual celebration was launched by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in 1971.

“The purpose of the Week of the Young Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs,” NAEYC says on its website.

Here’s a roundup of some WOYC events.

 

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Photo: Somerville Public Schools Twitter feed

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“Leading the Way,” is a series featuring the next generation of leaders in the field of early education and care.

Kretcha Roldan

Kretcha Roldan has spent her career combining social work and education.

That’s what she loved about her job as executive director of AVANCE, a nonprofit organization in Waco, Texas, that runs a two-generation education and personal development program for children and parents.

“I’m a social worker by training and by profession, but I fell in love with that concept: understanding how early education empowers parents to become children’s first teacher,” Roldan says. “It really helps the family to grow.”

Praised by former first lady Laura Bush, AVANCE serves Waco’s low-income, immigrant population.

Children and parents come to school each day. “The parents go to ESL classes or GED classes, and the children come to early childhood education classes. The parents also take parenting skills training.”

“Sometimes parents who have no means think that they cannot teach their children because they do not have the resources. When, honestly, what you need to teach a two-year-old are very basic things to have activity in their brain cells.” So the program helped parents tap their own ingenuity and creativity to use common household items to teach their children about numbers and colors.

“And both parent and child graduate. They both walk in with gowns.” (more…)

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“In 2016, heading into her 15th year as a kindergarten teacher, Kristy Caesar knew what to expect from a room full of 5-year-olds.

“But what greeted her on that first day of school last year was an eye opener — she had 21 kindergartners and only four had attended preschool. Eighteen students couldn’t recognize a single phonetic letter sound, such as the sound ‘A’ makes.

“ ‘It was so challenging; they were months behind,’ said Caesar, who teaches at Kennedy Elementary School in Lindsay, in California’s Central Valley. She recalled thinking, ‘Something needs to change. I can’t keep getting learners who have never gone to preschool.’ ”

“A year later, things did change.

“This past fall, the Lindsay Unified School District, in a small farming community in Tulare County, implemented universal preschool, meaning every child from birth to 4 years old, regardless of family income, can attend a program in the district for free.”

“Facing unprepared kindergartners, a rural school district restores preschool for all,” EdSource, April 3, 2018

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

How can preschools be more accessible to immigrant children?

Four communities — Dearborn, Mich., Atlanta, Ga., King County, Wash., and Houston, Texas — have come up with good answers, according to a new Urban Institute report, “Expanding Preschool Access for Children of Immigrants.”

“Historical barriers to preschool access, including language accessibility, cultural responsiveness, and affordability, have led many immigrant families to miss out on this important experience,” a related article explains.

“But new evidence from four communities shows that policymakers and teachers remain central in expanding preschool access for children of immigrants—and they can be successful in doing so.”

The report points to common themes that emerged across the four locations, including the need to:

• address language barriers

• inform parents about their preschool options

• manage logistics such as scheduling and transportation, and

• expand access by forming partnerships with other organizations and providers such as religious organizations and health care providers

The Urban Institute article makes 10 recommendations, among them: (more…)

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