Children's Defense Fund

Early Childhood News – April Edition

Register Now for CDF National Conference July 22-25 in Cincinnati, Ohio

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is hosting its first conference since 2003, Pursuing Justice for Children and the Poor with Urgency and Persistence. Take advantage of our early registration discount which ends April 20th. Create an Early Childhood action team and come together to the conference to learn about policy and programs that work. Strengthen your organizing and communication skills. Remember, the need is great:

  • There are more than 16 million poor children in our country;
  • Health coverage is out of reach for over 8 million uninsured children;
  • Early Childhood programs designed to provide high quality child care for low-income children are underfunded with thousands on waiting lists across the country;
  • Access to publicly funded Full-day kindergarten (Full-Day K) is unobtainable for many children due to geography and income;
  • Children in foster care languish in poorly constructed systems of care;
  • Juvenile justice is a system of injustice for thousands of young people entering the pipeline to prison; and
  • The majority of Black and Hispanic children cannot read at grade level by fourth grade and are compromised for the remainder of their lives.

Come to the conference to recommit to creating meaningful change for children. Concrete action steps and strategies to replicate promising practices will be highlighted and discussed. Early Childhood sessions will focus on topics from creating comprehensive systems of support for infants and toddlers and their families to how to replicate successful PreK-3rd grade early learning continuum programs. Visit the conference website for more information and to register today.

Full-Day Kindergarten in the States-Looking at New York

A Kindergarten Teacher’s Plea

The South Huntington School Board recently decided to eliminate Full-Day K and provide a half-day in the 2012-2013 school year. The District cited state budget cuts in the overall education budget as a reason for their decision. Prior to the decision, Alison Chiquitucto, a kindergarten teacher in the District, wrote a letter to the Huntington Patch expressing her fears should full-day kindergarten go to the chopping block. You can read Alison's letter online at the Huntington Patch.

Her description of the kindergarten of years ago and that of today are not lost on those who recognize that best practice can be preserved even in light of rigorous new learning standards if teachers have the time, knowledge and support to create a high quality learning environment.

Port Chester Schools

In an effort to cut costs, the Port Chester School Board proposed to cut full-day kindergarten to a half-day for the 2012-13 school year. But after a loud public outcry, the Board reversed the proposal and will continue to provide full-day kindergarten. This demonstrates the power of local advocacy in these tough budget times. Read more about the Board's decision to maintain full-day kindergarten.

Utica Schools

On March 27th assistant kindergarten teachers in Utica Public Schools circulated a petition seeking to restore funds so full-day kindergarten for the 2012-13 school year will be a reality. Previously kindergarten teachers voiced concern over the current 2.5 hour kindergarten day the district implemented in 2011 and questioned how students would be able to meet learning expectations now that New York has adopted the more rigorous Common Core State Standards for K-12. State budget cuts were cited as the primary reason for the reduction of the length of instruction. Read more about Full-Day K in Utica Schools during the 2012-13 school year.

National News

CDF Releases Position Statement on Access to Full-Day Kindergarten

Increasing Access to Full-Day K: A Key Strategy for Boosting Learning and Closing Achievement Gaps for Children describes the current reality of Full-Day K in the country and provides a summary of state funding patterns. A concise discussion of how students benefit from full-day kindergarten, its place in the PreK-3rd grade early learning continuum, and its relevance in the context of the Common Core State Standards is provided. National, state and local level policy recommendations are provided so all children have equal access to publicly funded Full-Day K. We urge you to go online, read and provide feedback by e-mailing Cathy Grace. Use the interactive map to review the status of kindergarten on a state-by-state basis.

Additional States Invited to Apply for RTT Early Learning Challenge Funds

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Education announced five new states: Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin have been invited to apply for funds to implement plans for statewide, high quality, comprehensive early learning systems. Each of these states received scores that placed them immediately behind the winning applications awarded earlier this year. The $133 million announced as the total for the five states comes from the $550 million appropriated for Race to the Top for 2012. Each invited state will be eligible to apply for up to 50 percent of last year’s potential award. Read more about the 2012 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge fund.

Week of the Young Child

The 2012 Week of the Young Child™ is April 22–28 and the theme is Early Years Are Learning Years®. Sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, this week of celebration provides early childhood professionals with a moment to reflect on and rejoice in the job they do for children across the country. It also gives families, business owners and advocates an opportunity to offer support to a part of our nation’s workforce that too often goes unrecognized as a primary contributor to the economy of every town and city in America. Read more about the Week of the Young Child.

Early Childhood in the States

NACCRRA’s New Release: Leaving Children to Chance: 2012 Update

The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) released the 2012 update on how small child care family homes in states fare when measured against standards which define excellence. Standards for oversight of the homes were also rated and ranked from best to worst in the country. Rankings and individual state ratings per standard are provided along with explanations and comments. Read the report online in its entirety.

New NIEER Report on Preschool Released

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recently released The State of Preschool 2011. The annual publication describes the state of pre-kindergarten programs across the country. Information is provided on a state by state basis concerning funding, the number of children served, types of programs and overall trends. The publication is a trusted source of information regarding the growth and/or decline in publicly funded programs for three and four year-old children in the country.

Early Childhood News and Resources

New Head Start Resources from CLASP

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) has released new resources based on the most current Head Start data from the 2010 program year. Data on Early Head Start points to the largest increase in program enrollment in history and also continues to point out the challenges facing programs such as teacher credentials and compensation. Putting Children and Families First: Head Start Programs in 2010 provides similar information on Head Start programs, and indicates an increase in insured children enrolled. Review state fact sheets and other information online.

Two New Resources Released by the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Children in Child Care and Early Education

Two important new documents recently released by the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education offer the most current research-based guidance to early care and education teachers on the safety and health of children in group settings. Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards: Guidelines and Standards for Early Care and Education Programs, 3rd Edition and Preventing Childhood Obesity both warrant review and consideration in revising state early care and education licensing standards. Significant changes in guidance on infant sleeping and feeding are two examples that justify revisiting Caring for Our Children.

New Poster for Proper Diapering Techniques Available from PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

As a companion resource to the release of the 3rd edition of Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards: Guidelines and Standards for Early Care and Education Programs, 3rd Edition, the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has a free poster on proper diapering techniques available online. The poster provides step by step illustrations of the proper diapering and disposal approaches to use in maintaining the highest standards of hygiene and disease control possible.

Start Early and Smart: Let’s Move Child Care Web Site Provides Resources for Early Care and Education Programs

The Let's Move Child Care web site provides information about the ways teachers can introduce nutrition and exercise that will increase the likelihood of children making healthy life choices. Information provided addresses five health goals: more exercise, better nutrition, less screen time, support for infant feeding options and healthier beverages. Checklists and resources are available for downloading.

The Early Ed Watch Highlights Research on the Impact of Teachers and Schools on English Language Learners

This article highlights the research recently released on how the characteristics of an English language learner student’s school affect his or her ability to catch up academically with native English-speaking peers. Dr. Wen-Jui-Han, a professor at the New York University Silver School of Social Work, analyzed data on 16,380 children from the federal government’s Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K). The summary can be read online.

Report on the Early Childhood Workforce Issued by GAO

A new report, EARLY CHILD CARE AND EDUCATION: HHS and Education Are Taking Steps to Improve Workforce Data and Enhance Worker Quality, released in February by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) addressed the following questions: (1) What is known about the composition, education, and income of Early Child Care Education (ECCE) workers and how these characteristics relate to quality? and (2) What activities are HHS, Education, and the states financing to improve ECCE worker quality? The GAO focused on paid ECCE workers who care for and educate infants, prekindergarten and school-age children in before- and after-school programs, working with Head Start and the Office of Child Care. The take away message of the report is confirmation that the wages of workers are near poverty level which does not bode well for attracting a high quality workforce.

African American Early Childhood Pioneer: Haydee Campbell

Haydee Campbell was the first African-American female to receive training from Susan Blow at the St. Louis Kindergarten Training School. As part of our on-going series written by Dr. Vernessa Curry, we can read a brief biography of this African-American kindergarten pioneer. To contact Dr. Curry, e-mail her at

Help Us Improve Our Flagship Publication

Do you or any early childhood advocates you know utilize CDF’s flagship publication, The State of America’s Children? Help us improve this year’s report by completing this short survey.

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