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Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Photo source: Mayor Emanuel’s Instagram page.

 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has a new preschool plan “to make free full-day preschool available to all Chicago 4-year-olds within four years,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

Chicago joins New York and other cities in pressing forward.

“Early education is a necessity for every child, not a luxury for some children,” Emanuel said in a press release. “Universal full-day pre-kindergarten ensures that every child in Chicago, regardless of their family’s resources, gets the great start that all children deserve.”

Emanuel says the program will close the achievement gap and have a generational impact on the city, helping children grow into better educated citizens.

The first step: (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

From Boston to Seattle, cities are leading the way on preschool. Now a new analysis looks at quality and enrollment rates to measure progress — and awards gold, silver, and bronze medals to the most successful cities.

The analysis — “The state of high-quality pre-k in big US cities” — was done by CityHealth, a philanthropic initiative supported by the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente. It was conducted as part of a larger study which rated cities in nine policy areas, including earned sick leave, affordable housing, and food safety.

“Thirty-three out of 40 cities received a medal for high-quality pre-k, including five gold, eight silver, and 20 bronze,” CityHealth explains.

The top-five, gold-medal winners are:

Boston

Charlotte

Nashville (more…)

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Shiroma Herath and her family with Representative Jim McGovern (D-Mass).

 

Shiroma Herath decided to go to this month’s Strolling Thunder event to share her experiences grappling with the high cost of child care.

As we blogged earlier this month, Strolling Thunder drew families from across the country who came to talk to Congress about the concerns of babies and families.

Herath attended, along with her husband and her baby, and spoke to Representative Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts); Nikki Hurt and Andrew Zack from Senator Ed Markey’s office; and Julia Frederick a staff person from Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office.

 

 

“I came from Sri Lanka to the United States three years ago as a green card holder with my husband,” Herath says of her family’s story. Three months after they arrived, the couple had their baby at UMass Memorial Medical Center. (more…)

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Screenshot from “Honoring Dr. T. Berry Brazelton (1918 – 2018): A Celebration”

In March, the world lost an early childhood champion who helped the public appreciate the power of investing well and often in the lives of very young children.

“Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, America’s most celebrated baby doctor since Benjamin Spock and the pediatrician who revolutionized our understanding of how children develop psychologically, died on Tuesday at his home in Barnstable, Mass., on Cape Cod. He was 99,” the New York Times reported, adding:

“Before Dr. Brazelton began practicing medicine in the early 1950s, the conventional wisdom about babies and child rearing was unsparingly authoritarian.”

Brazelton “rejected such beliefs and practices as being senseless, if not barbaric.

“ ‘He put the baby at the center of the universe,’ Dr. Barry Lester, a pediatrician and director of the Center for the Study of Children at Risk at Brown University, said…”

Born in Waco, Texas, and a graduate of Princeton University and Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, Brazelton has said that he was not close to his father.

“ ‘I’m sure he loved me,’ Dr. Brazelton later reflected, ‘but I never really knew him.’ His father’s remoteness, he added, ‘fueled my ambitions’ to better understand early father-child bonding,” the Boston Globe reported. (more…)

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Strolling Thunder

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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