Early Childhood News – May Edition
Decision Day for Local School Districts: Will It Be Full-Day Kindergarten Next Year or Not?
As CDF’s recent survey of the states confirmed , most states in the country do not have statutes requiring school districts to provide publicly funded full-day kindergarten (Full-Day K). Rather, school districts in the majority of states determine whether to offer Full-Day K on a year-to-year basis if funds are found and when politics and economic conditions are aligned. Confronted with continued declines in state resources, thousands of districts across the country are currently deciding whether to provide Full-Day K as part of the 2012-13 school year.
There is some good news to report. Indiana has passed into law a bill that will provide for statewide publicly funded Full-Day K next year. More districts in Connecticut and New Jersey are moving toward Full-Day K. And Chicago is planning to provide Full-Day K in all schools in 2012-13.
But the news from elsewhere is more troubling. School districts in New York and Pennsylvania are seriously considering reducing the number of Full-Day K classes for next year. Between a $2.7 billion cut to the state education budget over the past two years and a local tax cap implemented in New York beginning in 2012, local districts are struggling to make ends meet. In Pennsylvania, the governor’s cuts to the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program that had funded Full-Day K in the past threatens the continuation of full-day classes across the state, and the Northgate School District in Allegany County is considering discontinuing kindergarten altogether for next year. And among the thirteen states that allow school districts to charge parents tuition for a second half of a kindergarten day, Washington, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Minnesota all have districts that are increasing the tuition for the 2012-13 school year.
As long as Full-Day K funding is determined on a year-by-year basis, this scenario will be repeated in communities across the country jeopardizing the school success of thousands of children. Clearly, the Wisdom of Solomon will be needed as school boards and community leaders debate the future of education for their children.
As early childhood educators we need to be THE resource for educating those in decision making positions. Share the Common Core State Standards to help community leaders fully appreciate the new challenges facing schools and students. Form neighborhood discussion groups. Attend school board meetings and speak out for Full-Day K classes. Use your knowledge and be heard!
Attending the CDF Conference is the Best Summer Vacation You Could Take!
Cincinnati, Ohio is the place to be from July 22-25 if you want to experience excitement, good food, highly spirited conversation and a “family reunion” of the child advocacy community like none before! Attending The Children’s Defense Fund‘s conference, Pursuing Justice for Children and the Poor with Urgency and Persistence: A Community and Youth Empowerment Conference, is an opportunity to hear national experts and successful practitioners discuss THE current early childhood education issues and best practices. In addition, sessions devoted to child health and nutrition, mental health, juvenile justice, child poverty and more will be presented in an action oriented setting. This conference is NOT for the faint of heart. Marian Wright Edelman will present a no-nonsense call to act that promises to equal the call for civil rights for all more than 50 years ago. Come and be part of a historic meeting of family and friends. It will be a memorable four days.
Early Childhood in the Nation
TAKE ACTION: Save Child Care Subsidies Now
On May 4 the City of New York announced the release of contract awards for EarlyLearn NYC, a restructuring of the subsidized child care system that will result in a loss of 6,671 slots for low-income children. Combined with the loss of 7,700 vouchers outlined in the cuts, a total of 14,371 fewer children will have access to these essential early education programs. This scenario is being repeated across the county, but relief could be on the way. Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) recently introduced the Ensuring Child Care for Working Families Act (H.R. 5188). This bill would guarantee child care assistance to all families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level who are working or enrolled in an education or training program. Representatives Gwen Moore, John Lewis, George Miller, and Pete Stark are co-sponsors of the bill.
We are encouraging all advocates to visit the National Women’s Law Center website and call or write your member of Congress requesting he/she sign-on to this bill that could positively alter the lives of millions of low-income working families and children.
Dr. Jacqueline Jones Named Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
The Department of Education recently announced that Dr. Jacqueline Jones, who serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, will be leading the Office of Early Learning. The Office will administer the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge program and coordinate the Department’s Early Learning Initiative. A new website has been created for the office. Click here to learn more.
Office of Head Start Provides Resources to Potential Applicants Engaged in the Designation Renewal (Re-competition) Process
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently announced the availability of Head Start funding in 97 Head Start service areas across the country. The funding opportunities are open to all eligible organizations, and applicants have 90 days to submit their grant proposals online through www.Grants.gov.
Funding opportunity announcements will be released in two groups. The Office of Head Start is using this approach to plan potential transitions at natural breaks in services, minimizing disruptions to children, families and staff. Funding opportunity announcements for the first group of service areas are available and posted on ACF’s Funding Opportunities site. Additional funding opportunity announcements will be available in May. For assistance in preparing an application go to http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/hs/grants.
New PreK-3rd Grade Publication Released by Education Commission of the States
The Education Commission of the States has recently published a summary of policies enacted since 2000 related to PreK-3rd Grade. The publication, Recent State Policies / Activities P-3 -Kindergarten--Full Day Kindergarten, summarizes legislation and policies that are collected from state websites, state newsletters, StateNet, LexisNexis and Westlaw. Descriptions often reflect the content of bills as introduced and may not reflect changes made during the legislative process.
State Baby Facts Released by Zero to Three
According to Zero to Three, 46 percent of U.S. infants and toddlers live in low income families. In their new publication, State Baby Facts: A Profile of Infants, Toddlers and their Families Across the U.S. conditions for America’s youngest children are provided on a state-by state basis. The information framework provides specific data on good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences and ranks each state based on defined indicators.
Guidance to Schools on Use of Title I Funds for Pre-School Released By US Department of Education
Recently the US Department of Education re-released guidance to schools on how Title I funding can be used to support pre-school programs. In his letter accompanying the document, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education Michael Yudin states “high-quality preschool programs supported with Title I funds can help ensure that children have the foundation they need to meet early learning and development standards and experience success throughout elementary and secondary school, and beyond.” The document can be found here.
Early Childhood In the States
Cutting Edge Policies in Illinois for Educating English Language Learners
A new report released by the New America Foundation, Starting Early with English Language Learners: First Lessons from Illinois highlights rigorous new policies in Illinois regarding English Language Learners and pre-k programs in the state. New regulations set to be implemented by 2014 will result in a new strategy that will put into place changes in requirements for the work force, assessments of children, and curricula. These policies are considered cutting edge and a national model for how early childhood programs should approach this population of children and families.
Early Childhood Resources
Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is May 9th: Resources to Share with Heath Providers on Mental Health Issues and Young Children
Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is May 9th and in conjunction with the awareness day new resources are available to help early childhood professionals reach out to physicians and mental health professionals in communities across the country. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a wealth of information available by linking to http://www.samhsa.gov/children/. The American Academy of Pediatrics also has developed resources designed to share with pediatricians and family care physicians on assessment and treatment of mental health disorders in young children. Visit AAP's website for more information.
Safe Sleep Webinar Planned: Register Now
The American Academy of Pediatrics in collaboration with The Head Start Center on Health will provide a free webinar on what the newest science has to say about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, May 23 from 2-3:30 PM CDT. Reserve your Webinar seat now.
New Resource on P-12 Data System Emphasizing PreK-3rd Grade
A new Policy to Action Brief released by the Foundation for Child Development, PreK-3rd: Next Steps for State Longitudinal Data Systems by Donald J. Hernandez, recommends that the federal government convene a national advisory group to develop guidelines that will assist states in developing fully integrated PreK-12 longitudinal data systems. The brief contains several recommendations that deserve thoughtful consideration and action.
NAEYC Professional Development Institute Scheduled for June
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) will host its 21st National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-13. Numerous sessions supporting leadership development in various early childhood settings are featured. Pre-institute sessions on program accreditation and a train-the-trainer seminar for program administrators to engage their program staff upon returning home on developmentally appropriate practice targeting social-emotional competence in preschool environments are offered for those seeking a more in-depth discussion of issues. For registration materials and more information go to http://www.naeyc.org/institute/.