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“A new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, investigates how pre-K affects kids’ access to healthcare. The results suggest that universal pre-K programs are improving the odds that kids who need treatment for vision, hearing, or asthma issues get the help they need.”

“For example, the fact that the group of kids is 1% more likely to get hearing treatment overall means that hearing-impaired kids are actually 63% more likely to get treatment. For vision-impaired kids, the bump is 45%.”

“So why is pre-K changing health outcomes? The researchers suggest that putting kids in pre-K simply creates more opportunities for their health problems to get noticed, since early-childhood teachers are often trained to spot them.”

“Universal pre-K improves kids’ health in a hidden, powerful way, according to a new study,” Business Insider, April 12, 2017

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Vermont is pressing ahead on its preschool plans.

Back in 2014, then-Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill into a law that offered 10 hours a week of high-quality preschool programs to the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds. By 2016, more and more programs were up and running.

Now, Vermont is in its first year of fully implementing universal pre-K statewide.

As Vermont Public Radio (VPR) explains, “All of Vermont’s 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds who are not attending kindergarten are eligible to participate in Universal Pre-K, but it’s not required.”

The VPR report adds:

“Under Act 166, the state pays a set tuition to schools such as Wee Explorers to provide 10 hours of preschool a week, for the 35-week school year. This year the tuition is just under $3,100 per student. In total, the state is spending about $13.7 million on Pre-K tuition this year. That accounts for payments made to private preschools as well as payments to public preschools for out-of-district students who attend a preschool program run by a school district.”

“Basically, it works like a voucher program for preschool. Families can choose to send their child to pre-K at their local public school, if it’s offered. Or they can pick a private program that is ‘pre-qualified’ or, in other words, endorsed by the state.”

How’s it going? (more…)

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Massachusetts readers, please note that Early Education Advocacy Day at the State House has been rescheduled to April 24th, 2017, 10:30 a.m.

 

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

What’s the best way to pay for child care? Here at Strategies for Children, we’re always looking at different approaches. As we’ve blogged, Finland uses tax revenues. And other European countries provide targeted subsidies to low-income families.

What about the United States?

Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst has an outside-the-box idea for a modernized education savings account. Whitehurst is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

The proposal: Invest $42 billion to “provide a substantial subsidy for every child from birth to fifth birthday in a family at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. This is nearly half the families in the U.S,” Whitehurst writes in “Why the federal government should subsidize childcare and how to pay for it.”

To finance this plan, Whitehurst calls for using the $26 billion that the country already spends on child care and adding another $16 billion that would come from revamping the country’s charitable donations tax deduction.  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Earlier this week, we blogged about the shortage of early education and care workers in Massachusetts.

Today, we’re looking at similar shortages around the country.

Take Wisconsin where, “Low hourly wages, the lack of professional development opportunities and a high turnover rate are major factors contributing to the state’s preschool teacher shortage, experts say,” according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

“‘If you know that 52 percent of the childcare workforce in Wisconsin has at least an associate degree and that the average wage is $10 an hour, it’s not surprising that we’d have a teacher shortage,’ said Ruth Schmidt, executive director of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, last week.”

Wages have been shockingly stagnant, according to a Wisconsin Early Childhood Association report. In 1997, child care workers earned $7.03 per hour – equal to $10.22 in 2013 dollars. In the year 2013, child care workers were only earning a few cents more in real dollars, taking home $10.33 per hour.

In addition, Wisconsin’s turnover rate among early educators is 35 percent, “which is significantly higher than the state’s overall workforce turnover rate of 8 percent.”

Similar challenges exist across the country. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The Trump administration has released its budget proposal, and there’s mixed news for education: some budget cuts and some budget increases. So far, there is no word on budget proposals for Head Start and other early childhood programs.

As the National Women’s Law Center explained in an email, Trump has released a “skinny budget” that lists some details about “spending priorities” including “very deep cuts to non-defense discretionary programs while increasing defense spending by $54 billion.” The center analyzes the budget’s impact on families here.

But bear in mind that Trump’s budget is only a proposal. Congress will be hammering out its own budget for the nation.

For now, however, here’s what we know about Trump’s budget. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

How can early learning programs best serve the children of immigrant parents who are worried about being deported?

The advocacy organization Early Edge California has some answers.

“Currently we are hearing that some families are not attending early learning programs out of concern of deportation, so we are working at the state level on information that can guide local policies and practices,” Early Edge says on its website.

These resources include:

• a U.S. Department of Education fact sheet about safe spaces such as schools and churches where immigration actions may not occur

• a guide for educators and school support staff released by the American Federation of Teachers and other organizations to help those “who teach, mentor and help open the doors of opportunity for undocumented youth and unaccompanied and refugee children currently living in the United States”

• another U.S. Department of Education publication explains how early learning programs and elementary schools can support immigrant families

The need for this awareness is substantial.  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

These days, local communities are leading the way in early childhood. We’ve highlighted some of these local efforts on our blog both here and here.

Now a new national report looks at three different local efforts, successful early childhood programs that are solidly rooted in their communities in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Durham, North Carolina; and throughout Oregon.

The report – “Building our Future: Supporting Community-Based Early Childhood Initiatives” – springs from a meeting that was held last year by Child Trends, with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

At the meeting, 150 participants — from community organizations, research organizations, government, and philanthropy — learned about “community-based early childhood initiatives and what is needed to sustain and spread early childhood initiatives in other communities.”

As the report explains:

Tulsa, Oklahoma was featured because of its use of Educare and other health and family support services to support young children and their families across the city.” (more…)

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