A weekly publication of 11/19/2013
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In many states, the cost to parents of early education is nearly twice as expensive as a year of tuition at a four-year public college.
I have written many times about the need for quality, affordable early care and education. As a parent who had to work when my own children were young, I know the conflicted feelings of needing to work to help pay the bills and wanting to stay home with my children to be their teacher, their nose wiper, their first set of eyes to experience their milestones. I also remember going to visit many private home and center based providers looking for the right person to care for them and teach them and me the things we needed to know so they would be ready for school and life, at a price that wasn’t going to wipe out the weekly paycheck my household needed. When I suddenly found myself a single parent with 2 children under the age of 4, the need for quality, affordable care became even more urgent, but the availability of it was drastically limited.
Last week CLASP and the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), released a joint report, Investing in Young Children: A Fact Sheet on Early Care and Education Participation, Access, and Quality. The report reveals that significant underinvestment in early care and education programs at the state and federal levels has left large numbers of children underserved.
As the report points out, “high-quality early care and education can play a critical role in promoting young children’s early learning and success in life, while also supporting families’ economic security. Young children at highest risk of educational failure – those experiencing poverty and related circumstances that may limit early learning experiences – benefit from high-quality early care and education programs.”
Major findings in the report include:
- Family economic hardship is the predominant risk factor associated with academic failure and poor health. Nationally, 25 percent of children under six live in poverty. Other risk factors include having a teen parent, living in a household without English speakers, and having parents without a high school degree.
- Children are underserved by the three largest federal child care and early education programs: Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and Head Start and Early Head Start. Funding for CCDBG has not kept pace with inflation and growing need. Since 2006, approximately 150,000 children have lost access to child care subsidies and an additional 30,000 will lose subsidies as a result of sequestration.
- Although funding for Head Start has increased by $1.2 billion from 2006 to 2012, demand has exceeded its growth. Only 42 percent of eligible children are served by Head Start preschool and a mere 4 percent of children who are eligible are served by Early Head Start. As a result of sequestration, 57,000 children have lost or will lose access to Head Start services in 2013.
- For child care and early education to be effective, it must be high-quality. However, states are not meeting recommended benchmarks. Currently, only 4 states (CT, ND, OR, VT) meet benchmarks for both class size and adult-child ratios, while 33 states meet neither of these critical benchmarks.
A complex mix of federal and state investments and policies shapes low-income families’ access to quality early care and education. Currently, these investments and policies are too weak to benefit large numbers of young children experiencing economic hardship and other circumstances that can pose serious risks to their healthy development and school success. Strong investments in early learning can help connect vulnerable children and their families with home visiting services, high-quality child care, and preschool -- all of which counter negative risk factors and support healthy child development.
An important step in the right direction was taken last week. Legislation was introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY), the Strong Start for America's Children Act: landmark legislation that provides for universal access to high-quality pre-kindergarten services for low-income children through a federal-state partnership and expands quality child care for infants and toddlers.
The Strong Start for America’s Children Act builds on the framework put forward by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union Address. This proposal would greatly increase access to and quality of programs that serve children from birth to kindergarten.
The bill consists of four measures that would:
- Accelerate states’ efforts to provide high quality preschool to low and moderate income families;
- Increase the quality of infant and toddler care in center based and family child care settings;
- Support quality improvements in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG);
- Encourage continued support for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.
The early childhood education proposal is a 10-year initiative to expand and improve early learning opportunities for children across the birth to age 5 continuum. The bill would fund preschool for 4-year old children from families earning below 200% of the federal poverty level, and encourage states to spend their own funds to support preschool for young children with family incomes above that income level. The legislation would establish a new federal-state partnership with formula funding for 4-year old preschool, with a state match, to all eligible states, based on each state’s proportion of 4-year olds under 200% of the federal poverty level. States would provide sub-grants to high-quality, local providers, including school districts and community-based providers, such as child care and Head Start programs. The bill also authorizes a new Early Head Start partnership with child care to improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers.
Every Child Matters is proud to be one of the many national organizations supporting this legislation. We will be meeting with our State Congressional delegation and asking them to support the Strong Start for America’s Children Act. You can help by calling their offices and requesting the same.
The United States ranked 24th among 45 nations surveyed for availability and quality of early childhood education. The time is long overdue to make it a priority for all children in this country.
Thursday, November 21, 10am – 11am, House Vote on Medicaid Expansion, State House, Concord
Click here to see more events in New Hampshire!
Are you interested in finding out more about the early learning programs and opportunities available in New Hampshire? Then check out Child Care Aware of NH. Here is some information from their website.
Child Care Aware of New Hampshire is dedicated to helping parents get the information they need so they can make the very best decisions about child care in addition to telling parents what child care options are available in their community. All children deserve safe, quality care and it is our hope to provide you with all of the tools and resources you may need to make the right choice for your family.
If you would like to speak to a person, a Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Specialist is available to assist you any information and with your search as well. Please contact your local CCR&R agency for more information and personal assistance.
There are two kinds of child care in New Hampshire:
License exempt and Licensed.
1. License exempt providers can care for three children in addition to their own children at any one time without a license.
2. Licensed providers are regulated by the Child Care Licensing Unit. There are several different types of licensed providers.
For a brief summary of New Hampshire Child Care regulations, Click Here. This summary includes definitions and descriptions for different types of licensed programs and some information on basic regulations that licensed programs must follow.
Choosing the right child care provider is one of the most important decisions you will make. Please visit the Why Quality Matters page to learn the indicators for quality care. The following are resources for you on what to look for in a child care provider, what questions to ask, and why your child care choice is so important:
A Parent’s Guide to Choosing Safe and Healthy Child Care
Child Care Aware: 5 Steps to Choosing Care
Child Care Aware: Choosing High-Quality Child Care for a Child with Special Needs
Your Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Specialist is available to assist you with your search as well. Please contact your local CCR&R for more information and personal assistance.
New Hampshire Campaign Director
Every Child Matters Education Fund
You can help win the fight for our kids by making a tax-deductible donation to ECM in any amount at www.everychildmatters.org.
Every Child Matters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to make children a national political priority. For more information, visit www.everychildmatters.org
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