Children's Defense Fund

Early Childhood News – February Edition

Early Childhood in the President’s Budget

President Obama’s FY2013 Budget proposes promising investments in early care and education, including increased funding for all of the major federal funding streams for early learning. The president’s proposal also offers a 5 percent increase to programs that serve infants and toddlers with special needs, and commits a portion of new Race to the Top dollars to a third round of Early Learning Challenge Grants. If approved by Congress, the proposals outlined below would go a long way toward improving quality and increasing eligibility for services for young children and families across the country. Specifically, the President’s FY2013 budget proposal would:

  • Increase Head Start funding by $85 million over FY 2012 funding levels. This would maintain the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”) expansion, allowing 962,000 children to participate in Head Start. These funds would also support the implementation of new regulations to strengthen the program by requiring low-performing grantees to compete for continued funding.
  • Provide an $825 million dollar increase in the Child Care and Development Block Grant which offers subsidized child care dollars to families who need it. These funds would include a $300 million investment for a new child care quality initiative that states would use to improve the services that children receive in child care settings by investing directly in programs and teachers. This increase would also ensure that more than 70,000 additional low-income children would be eligible to receive services.
  • Support programs that benefit families with infants and toddlers by providing a $20 million increase to Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the section that provides grants for infants and toddlers with special needs.
  • Provide a $50 million increase to evidence-based early childhood home visiting programs to improve health and developmental outcomes for families in at-risk communities.
  • Provide a third round of Early Learning Challenge Grants to help states improve their early care and education systems through a portion of the $850 million investment in Race to the Top funding.
  • Flat fund other important programs in early childhood including Part B, Section 619 of IDEA (pre-school special education) and Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program.

Full-Day Kindergarten in the States: CDF’s New On-line Resource

Did you know that some states allow school districts to charge parents tuition for part of the kindergarten day? A new resource recently released by CDF provides a state-by-state review of the availability of full-day Kindergarten (Full-Day K) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Take a look at our new map for a snapshot of the most recent and reliable information on access to Full-Day K.

  • Minnesota: A Local Victory
    According to the This Week News, children attending kindergarten next year in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 will be attending free Full-Day K for the first time since 2003. Currently, forty-five percent of the district kindergartners are enrolled in the district’s fee-based, full day program and forty-three percent of the kindergarteners who qualify for free or reduced lunch are enrolled. According to Superintendent Randy Clegg, the current programs cost $3,132 a year, or $348 a month. While scholarships are available that can reduce the cost to $87 per month for the neediest families, the Superintendent concedes that even that amount is out of reach for many. He recently stated that, “All of our students regardless of their family income should be afforded the right and opportunity to benefit from our public full-day kindergarten program.”
  • Massachusetts:
    Disappointing News for Hopkinton
    According to the Metrowest Daily News, parents in Hopkinton, Mass., will be looking at a hike in tuition cost for their children to attend Full-Day K next year. Due to a decrease in state revenue to the district, parents may be paying $4,000 per year for their children to attend Full-Day K, an increase over the current $3,700. The increase in kindergarten tuition was one of many increases in fees and/or cuts in services proposed by Superintendent Jonathan Landman who is trying to make up for a $630,000 shortfall in revenue as compared to the current school year. One parent in attendance at the meeting said, “We’ve cut so far, we’re not at the bone, we’re at the marrow. I am hoping we can come together as a town and finally start investing in our schools.”

    Braintree School District: Attending Full-Day K is Determined by Chance
    According to a story in the Braintree Forum News, a lottery is the current enrollment process for Full-Day K during the 2012-2013 school year in the Braintree Schools. The lottery conducted on January 23rd determined which 60 students out of the 140 registered would enroll next year if their families can pay the $3,000 tuition charge. A sliding fee scale will be implemented for those unable to meet the cost but no district transportation will be provided. Discussions are still ongoing as to how to increase the number of students enrolled since local interest is high.
  • Rhode Island: Possibility of Mandated Full-Day Kindergarten
    Not all students in Rhode Island currently have the opportunity to attend Full-Day K. If State Representative Roberto DaSilva has his way, that will change next year. He is co-sponsoring a bill requiring all school districts to offer Full-day K. Given the new school funding formula that allocates $8,600 per student, he feels it will be affordable for all communities. Representative DaSilva is quoted as saying, “Right now, with this funding formula in place, there is really no good reason to not have all–day K all the way across the board. You’re doing a disservice not only to your children but to your taxpayers by not going with a full-day K.”

CDF Updates

CDF National Conference: Registration Opens February 29th
Pursing Justice for Children and the Poor with Urgency and Persistence
A Community and Youth Empowerment Conference
July 23-25 in Cincinnati, Ohio

CDF is hosting its first national conference since 2003 for America’s top experts, researchers, policymakers, practitioners, community advocates, service providers and most committed activists. Through cutting edge plenary sessions and dozens of compelling workshops, we will share the latest research, best policies and practices, community building and engagement models as well as community and youth empowerment strategies to close the gap between what we know works and what we actually do for our most vulnerable—children and the poor.

Early Childhood in the States

National—State Early Care and Education Public Policy Developments: Fiscal Year 2012

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has released its annual compilation of state early care and education public policy developments for FY12. This report categorizes state developments by issue areas such as Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), child care subsidies, infant/toddler and third grade reading proficiency. For example, it points out that:

  • Pennsylvania’s QRIS, Keystone Stars, was level-funded for FY12 despite proposed cuts.
  • Florida’s state budget has been reduced by 14 percent, potentially resulting in 11,000 children losing school readiness services.
  • The Alaska Infant Learning Program, which supports direct services for children from birth to age 3 was level-funded at $6.5 million.
  • The New Hampshire General Court passed legislation that will require 80 percent of a district’s third grade population to be 100 percent reading proficient.

This report shines a light on important changes in early care and education taking place at the state level for Fiscal Year 2012 in regards to enacted legislation; new initiatives approved by state executive branches; major funding increases, decreases, or level-funding; and additional significant fiscal or policy changes. Download the entire compilation here.

National—State Child Care Assistance Policies 2011: Reduced Support for Families In Challenging Times

For the eighth year in a row the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has released a report of key child care subsidy policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. One of the most startling facts revealed in the report is that families are not only worse off in 2011 than they were in 2010 under one or more child care policies but they are worse off than a decade ago. In only 11 states were families better off under one or more child care policy areas than last year, a sharp contrast to NWLC’s findings in the previous year when families in 34 states were better off in 2010 than they were in 2009. The report focuses on child care policy areas such as income eligibility, waiting lists, co-payments and reimbursement rates. Although the report primarily focuses on changes between February 2010 and February 2011, there is some information about changes that states have made or are expected to make after the reporting date. While a few states reported modest improvements since the reporting time frame, fifteen states reported cutbacks in these policies as they continue to deal with budget shortfalls and a challenging economic environment. In some cases, states specifically attributed the cutbacks to the expiration of their ARRA funds. Follow this link to read the full report.

Early Childhood News and Resources

Head Start in Need of Reviewers-Deadline Fast Approaching

The Office of Head Start is seeking grantee reviewers who will be available on a part-time basis over the summer. The Head Start Resource Center is reaching out to early childhood research and professional organizations to help get word out about the grant review recruitment. Read the complete job description and qualification requirements.

Graduate students, alums, and faculty with a background in early childhood or related fields are encouraged to apply. Please note that there is time urgency to this announcement—the deadline is February 27.

New Webinar Series on PreK-3rd Grade Initiative

As a collaborative effort of national organizations that focus on the full PreK-3rd grade continuum, the PreK-3rd Grade National Work Group is pleased to announce a seven-part webinar series that will be held over the course of the 2012 calendar year. The overarching theme for the webinar series is Reducing Achievement Gaps by 4th Grade: The PreK-3rd Grade Approach in Action. Each webinar will address a critical component of the PreK-3rd approach.

On February 29, 2012, from 3:00-4:30 p.m. EST the series will launch with an overview of the rationale for the PreK-3rd approach and how its core elements address the pressing problems of achievement gaps and low quality educational opportunities. Subsequent webinars will employ the PreK-3rd grade lens to focus on leadership, family engagement, standards and curriculum, teacher effectiveness, child assessment, and state and district policy. Follow this link to register for the February 29 webinar.

A website has been created to house information on the webinars: Approximately one month prior to each webinar, a registration link will be added to the website along with a list of scheduled speakers.

If you have questions, please contact:

New America Foundation to Explore Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Winning States

In a month-long series, New America Foundation will be examining the nine winning states in the 2011 Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) and their plans to improve the quality and coordination of early childhood programs. The first post focuses on the use of quality rating improvement systems (QRIS). Later posts will explore states’ plans to evaluate those rating systems, improve early learning standards, develop the early childhood workforce and implement kindergarten entry assessments. Follow this link for more information.

10 Hot Spots in Early Ed for 2012

Each January, Early Ed Watch, a blog from New America's Early Education Initiative, predicts the hot spots for the coming year. The annual summary focuses on issues in early care and education that will dominate discussion, either positive or negative, from advocates of better investments in services from birth through third grade. This year’s list includes topics such as the presidential election, state budgets, technology in early learning and teacher education.

State Efforts to Address Obesity Prevention in Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement Systems

This report provides an in-depth look at how states are incorporating obesity prevention into their Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRISs) for child care facilities. QRISs are a voluntary, comprehensive approach to improving the quality of early care and education programs and have recently become the focus of state early childhood obesity prevention efforts. Based on information gathered from a national advisory group and representatives from 10 states, the report documents the specific nutrition, physical activity, and screen time standards being used in state QRISs, tools and incentives to help child care providers achieve the standards, and monitoring strategies. It also highlights successful collaborative, cross-agency strategies being used; challenges states have faced; and recommend next steps in this important policy area.

The Global Summit on Childhood

From March 28 - March 31, 2012, Washington, D.C., will host the Global Summit on Childhood. This highly anticipated conference will challenge attendees to consider how to provide a positive childhood experience for youth all across the world. Presented by the Association for Childhood Education International, attendees will gain an opportunity to network with educators who have a broad range of perspectives on childhood and education today.

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