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“The State of Alabama spends $475 million on its prison system per year. Governor Robert Bentley wants to spend another $800 million to build four new mega-prisons.

“Imagine what our state could be like if we devoted part of that $1.2 billion to quality early childhood education instead. Wouldn’t it be smarter to ensure that brain development in a child’s first three years is robust? In 25 years, these children will be our state’s innovators and producers.”

“Alabama should invest in brain cells, not more prison cells,” by Jeanne Jackson, president and CEO of The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, AL.com, February 23, 2017

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Matt Deninger speaks about the Every Student Succeeds Act. Photo: Amy O’Leary for Strategies for Children

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is in the news, and education officials are seeking public comments on how this law should be implemented.

On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Strategies for Children convened a group of early childhood practitioners, advocates, and policy makers to discuss ESSA. Matthew Deninger from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was on hand to provide background on the law. He shared details about the evolving Massachusetts plan and spoke about opportunities to support the birth-through-grade-three continuum in the state plan and in local district plans.

Several themes emerged from this discussion:  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Low salaries are driving early educators out of their jobs, eroding efforts to offer high-quality programs to young children.

This challenge was featured in a front page news story in Sunday’s Worcester Telegram and Gazette, which reports:

“Losing needed staff is never a good thing. But for early childhood education centers these days, it can be especially demoralizing, said Kim Davenport, who recalled the case of one aspiring teacher who recently passed up a full-time classroom job for a higher-paying gig – at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“‘We’re losing the talent we really need in these programs,’ said Ms. Davenport, managing director of a multiagency initiative underway in Worcester aimed at expanding the city’s preschool options.”

And while early educators are getting advanced degrees that help them become even better teachers, these degrees aren’t leading to salary increases. (more…)

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How can researchers talk so that policymakers will listen?

Child Trends has a new brief – as well as a webinar – that covers the best ways to share research with elected officials and other policy leaders.

“We’ve seen here at Child Trends… a real growth in what we at the federal level call evidence-based policymaking. It’s really a movement,” Elizabeth Jordan, a Child Trends senior policy analyst, explains in the webinar.

“It’s really a way for policymakers and advocates on both sides of the aisle to find consensus,” “We all want to do what we know works for vulnerable children and their families.”

How can research have more of an impact on policy? Child Trends points to several examples, including how research on home visiting programs showed ““Rigorous evidence of the short- and long-term positive outcomes for children and families who participated…”

The result: the administration created a new federal home visiting program.”

So, what should researchers and advocates know about reaching policymakers? (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Ivanka Trump could be a champion for child care – and for lower child care costs.

That’s the argument that former Boston Globe columnist Joanna Weiss makes in a recent Globe opinion piece.

Weiss also asks a key question: Who should take care of very young children?

The answer is complicated. Obviously, parents play the most vital role. But what should happen when both parents work? And how does the country cope with the fact that many of the families who most need child care struggle to afford it?

Weiss says Ivanka Trump could help forge an answer.

“As the president’s daughter chats up bigwigs and members of Congress [to support working women], here’s hoping she’ll bring up the most fundamental challenge for working families: the impossible economics of child care.”

Last year, another Globe opinion piece took on the high cost of child care, noting: (more…)

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“The push for high-quality universal pre-K for four-year-olds, now embraced by a growing number of political and thought leaders, is strangely isolated from the movement supporting child care for working mothers. Focusing solely on four-year-old children may make for good politics, but by itself it falls short. Good policy takes into account the science of early childhood brain development, the needs of working mothers with younger children, and provides disadvantaged infants and toddlers with the high-quality child care that has been proven to promote success in school and later on in life.”

“Combining quality child care with preschool promotes social mobility across generations,” by James J. Heckman and J.B. Pritzker, The Hill, February 9, 2017

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Early childhood education (ECE) has strong public and legislative support. The challenge is paying for it.

In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh has called for using tourism dollars to finance an expansion of preschool. Philadelphia is using a beverage tax.

Now a new brief – “Innovative Financing for Early Childhood Education” — highlights a number of different funding approaches.

Finding up-front financing is crucial, because investments in early education end up paying off. As we’ve blogged, the return on investment can be as high as $13 for every $1 spent.

“Our group proposes specific action to expand upon what is ‘right’ with existing tax policy and to create new incentives that promote state, local and private collaboration,” the brief says. It was released by the Early Childhood Education Action Tank, a coalition that includes Save the Children Action Network and the First Five Years Fund as well as financial and business institutions. (more…)

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