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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: 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.” (more…)

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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.”  (more…)

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“About 70 percent of the rural population [in Illinois] lives in a childcare desert.”

 

Rasheed Malik, author of “America’s Child Care Deserts in 2018,” quoted in “Most Illinoisans live in ‘child care deserts,’ report says,” by Cole Lauterbach, Illinois News Network Dec 11, 2018

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“California lawmakers who have long promised to expand free preschool for children from poor and middle-class families were sworn into office Monday, with a new plan and a new ally.

“Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, who campaigned on expanding early education, said Monday that he wants the state to take steps toward free preschool for all children whose families don’t make enough to afford private alternatives. A lawmaker promptly submitted a proposal to do just that.

“Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, introduced a bill to make an additional 100,000 children ages 3 and 4 eligible for free preschool. Expanding the program that now pays for preschool for 175,000 children would cost the state about $1.3 billion over three years, McCarty said.”

“Some states, including Oklahoma and Florida, already offer universal preschool, and McCarty said California should follow their lead.”

“Free preschool gains momentum with California lawmakers,” by Melody Gutierrez, The San Francisco Chronicle, December 3, 2018

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“Too many poor children in rural areas, children in foster care, and children ages birth to 3 don’t have access to high-quality preschools, state leaders and early learning advocates fear. Families often don’t understand their choices. Health care and social services agencies often don’t know how to connect families with preschools. Preschool workers often don’t have enough training.

“ ‘Sometimes we’re not as knowledgeable as we’d like to be about where those gaps exist for those families,’ said Nicole Norvell, director of Indiana’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning.

“To identify and address the gaps, Indiana is applying for a nearly $10 million federal Preschool Development Grant. The plan, submitted to the federal government earlier this month, would cost about $14 million, with help from about $4 million in matching state dollars.

“Up to 40 states could receive awards. It’s uncertain when states will hear back about their applications, but it could be as early as the end of December.”

“Indiana seeks $10 million federal grant to find gaps in early childhood education,” by Stephanie Wang, Chalkbeat, November 29, 2018

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