Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Infants and toddlers’ Category

“A child is born in Massachusetts… then what happens?”

That’s the important question that the new website EC 101 tries to answer for parents, providers, policymakers, and philanthropists who want to promote healthy childhood development across Massachusetts by mapping out the state’s many early childhood programs and resources.

Ideally, Brian Gold says, the answer to What happens after a child is born? should be that children “grow and thrive.” Gold is the executive director of the Massachusetts Early Childhood Funder Collaborative, a group of individuals and foundations that worked with the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy to create EC 101 (short for Early Childhood 101).

But Gold — as a professional, a former foster parent, and the father of a 15-month-old child — sees a clear need for more clarity.

To create this clarity, EC 101’s goal is to tame the state’s complex early childhood system by creating “a visual, accessible format that allows for clear understanding of the current conditions of the early childhood landscape.”

To do this, the website draws on feedback from parents, stakeholders, and experts as well as on state and national research to create an interactive tool that’s full of information. The website can also be translated into multiple languages, everything from Albanian and Chinese to Thai and Yiddish.

An EC 101 webinar is posted above.

One important distinction that EC 101 makes is that there are early childhood systems – and there’s a “non-system.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »

“Last week, while history was being made on the floor of the House of Representatives, a (mostly) quieter, but no less historic event was happening in the Democratic cloak room.

“Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) brought his 4-month-old baby to work. In between votes, he changed diapers on the Democratic cloak room floor and bottle-fed his child. And Gomez wasn’t the only one on daddy duty in the House. Other parents — including Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) — brought their children to work as well. Yes, it was adorable and brightened up an otherwise dour C-SPAN feed. But the tweets about bringing babies to work, swapping parenting tips and taking breaks to feed and change also highlight a problem that is no stranger to the vast majority of this country’s parents.

“Child care is out of reach for many families in America. For most, it is too expensive and too hard to access. Parents, early learning providers and program administrators are overwhelmed, overburdened and under-resourced — and everyone is feeling the impact. Even our members of Congress.”

“America 2023: When even members of Congress don’t have child care,” by Michelle McCready, The Hill, January 9, 2023

Read Full Post »

Playing outside is a source of joy for children — and an opportunity for early educators to teach amazing lessons.

But many early childhood programs don’t have the information and resources they need to build engaging outdoor play spaces.

A policy brief from New America — Rethinking Outdoor Space for High-Quality Early Learning –addresses this by sharing the many options for creating an engaging “outdoor learning environment” or OLE.

The brief starts with a story about butterflies:

“Tiny monarch caterpillars arrived at the school, not floating through the air, but with the thud of a package on concrete.

“Our postal carrier had no idea how many lessons were going to emerge from that box for the prekindergartners at our public school in Washington, DC. First, we created a mesh net habitat and placed it in the tiny side yard of our concrete school building, which is just a few feet from a busy street known for nightlife, not nature. Within a day, the caterpillars doubled in size and the students watched, fascinated, commenting on the bite marks in the plants and listening closely for crunching.

“Over the next four weeks, children took turns watering the plants in the garden beds and tore off leaves to place in the mesh cage for the very hungry caterpillars.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »

One of the most important lessons you learn in a conversation with Mo Barbosa is that everything in youth development work is – or should be – connected.

“The better we do with zero to five,” Barbosa says of working with young children, “the better we’re going to do with the next 10 to 15 years of development.”

Barbosa is the senior director of Community Engagement at Health Resources in Action, where his goal as a trainer and facilitator is to professionalize the youth work field. He is the facilitator for convenings of The Early Childhood Agenda, which are hosted by Strategies for Children.

Barbosa’s sweeping focus is on the zero-to-24 age range – “or 24-ish” he says, “as we’re starting to understand the brain, we’re going a little bit later.”

But instead of a well-paved road that leads from birth to early adulthood, children and families in Massachusetts — and the rest of the country — face a fractured system. 

“There has been this historic difference between where you get child care and how much of it is early education and how much of it is just a place to put your kid,” Barbosa says. “And that difference has dictated quality. It has dictated pay. And it has dictated opportunity.”

Barbosa recalls running an early childhood program in St. Louis where children who lived in local housing projects would not go to kindergarten because they could not pass the screening test. Instead, they would enter first grade as six-year-olds with no early childhood classroom experiences.

The solution?

(more…)

Read Full Post »

This past summer, Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child “welcomed Lindsey Burghardt, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, as our Chief Science Officer.” Dr. Burghardt “leads our efforts to translate the science of early childhood—particularly the science behind ECD 2.0—for key audiences in the health sector, from policymakers to pediatricians. As a practicing pediatrician herself, Dr. Burghardt brings a clinician’s perspective to this work.

“In recognition of Children’s Health Month, Dr. Burghardt shares her thoughts on the importance of understanding and supporting sound mental health, particularly for our youngest children.

“Q: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to tremendous challenges for both children and caregivers, including an increase in mental health issues and a lack of access to providers who can help. As a pediatrician, what are some of the issues you have been seeing in your own practice on this front?

“A: ​There have been so many strains on caregivers during the pandemic. In particular, many working families have struggled to maintain access to consistent, high-quality childcare, which puts incredible stress on both caregivers and young children. The childcare environment is so important for children’s healthy development—their relationships with immediate caregivers matter a great deal, but so do their relationships with providers in early care and education, as well as with other adults in their communities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put significant stress on an already strained system, with a shortage of providers and limited options for parents to balance caring for their children and working to maintain their income. I’ve heard from many caregivers that they are experiencing significant stress, and in some cases job insecurity, due to the lack of consistent childcare. For caregivers who work nontraditional hours such as overnight shiftwork, or for those who care for multiple children, the stresses can be even greater. I’ve also observed increases in behavioral challenges and anxiety, including among young children.

“Q: Amidst all these challenges, how can caregivers and providers help create environments that foster strong mental health for babies and toddlers in a post-COVID world?

“A: The role of caregivers and providers is critical in fostering good mental health, so we must support the needs of the adults who care for children, through both individual and systems level approaches. When we support adults directly and tackle the systemic inequities that challenge families and providers, we help ensure that children can develop in health-promoting environments.”

“Children’s Health Month: The Importance of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health,” Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, October 2022

Read Full Post »

What are the best ways for states to help young children?

The Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap has answers that were shared earlier this month at a virtual summit that drew “thousands of national and state leaders, scholars, and practitioners.” Videos of that event are posted here.

Released by Vanderbilt University’s Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center, the roadmap is an annual guide that draws on the science of child development. Specifically, the roadmap looks at:

• young children’s wellbeing

• proven, evidence-based policy strategies

• states’ implementation of 11 effective policy and strategy solutions, and

• how policy changes impact young children and their families, and how these changes reduce racial and ethnic disparities

Those 11 policy and strategy solutions are:

(more…)

Read Full Post »

“Mayor Michelle Wu today announced a $20 million investment in early education through Boston’s Universal Pre-K (UPK) program, a partnership between BPS [Boston Public Schools] and the Office of Early Childhood. This investment builds on Mayor Wu’s commitment to universal, affordable, high-quality early education and care for all infants, toddlers, and children under five.”

“For the second year in a row, Boston UPK will increase the number of seats available to both 3- and 4-year-olds at community-based providers. Specifically, UPK will now offer up to 992 seats at community providers, with up to 627 seats for 4-year-olds and up to 365 seats for 3-year-olds.“

“ ‘The greatest investment we can make in our future is to support and center our young people,’ said Mayor Michelle Wu. ‘With this historic investment in early childhood education, we can kickstart an increase in high-quality Pre-K seats, bring family child care providers into the UPK network, and ensure all of our families have access to free and accessible early childcare and education.’ ”

“Mayor Wu Announces $20 million investment to expand Boston’s universal pre-K program,” Boston Mayor’s Office, July 6, 2022

See also: “Boston to spend $20 million to expand pre-K program,” by Stephanie Ebbert and Adria Watson, The Boston Globe, July 6, 2022

Read Full Post »

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has created a promising new Office of Early Childhood, and this office has a new leader, Kristin McSwain.

The office will “advance the administration’s commitment to universal, affordable, high-quality early education and care for all children under five,” by:

• expanding access to early education and childcare programs

• investing in Boston’s early education and care workforce

• accelerating “the creation of a universal pre-K system that stretches across Boston Public Schools (BPS), community-based organizations, and family-based childcare programs”

• expanding high-quality, affordable options for infants and toddlers, and

• serving as “a central point-of-entry for residents looking for information on early education and childcare programming and wraparound services for young children and their families”

Mayor Wu, the mother of two young boys, sums up the vital importance of this work, saying, “Every bit of investment in our children and families to close gaps in early education and care is an investment in our collective future.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Center

Photo: Bruna Saito from Pexels

It’s time to tell a new story about early childhood development, but first a little bit about the old story.

For more than 20 years, Dr. Jack Shonkoff, a pediatrician, has been explaining brain science to policymakers. Specifically, Shonkoff and his colleagues at Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, have pointed to three crucial concepts:

• how children’s early experiences affect their “brain architecture”

• the importance of “serve and return” interactions between children and adults, and

• how “toxic stress” caused by poverty and other factors can impair health child development

“Over the past two decades, the ‘brain science story’ has made a powerful case for investing in the early childhood period,” the center explains on its website.

But it is current events – the pandemic and the renewed public focus on systemic racism – that have “intensified the demand for fresh thinking about the future of the early childhood field.”

So now, the center is rolling out a new way of thinking called Early Childhood Development 2.0. The goal is to spark “science-based innovation” that transforms early childhood policies and practices. Building on “the strong foundation” of brain architecture, serve and return, and toxic stress, the center is adding three new concepts: (more…)

Read Full Post »

“What if I was to tell you that game of peekaboo could change the world? sounds impossible. Right? Well, I’m here today to prove it’s not. Hi, I’m Molly, and I’m seven.”

“Our brains grow faster in our early years than any other time in our lives. It can create up to 1 million neural connections every second, but we need your help. Our healthy development depends on these top five things, one, connecting; two, talking; three playing; four, a healthy home, five community. All of this helps our brains and us reach our full potential.

“So what’s something you can do that could really make a difference? Scientists call it serve and return. That’s just the grown up way of saying connect talk and play with us.”

“Molly Wright: How every child can thrive by five” TED Talk, August 9, 2021

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: