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“Child care has been a major issue in America long before everyone started wiping down their junk mail.”

 

— Trevor Noah, “America’s Childcare Crisis – If You Don’t Know, Now You Know,” The Daily Social Distancing Show, February 4, 2021

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First Five Years Fund infographic

 

Last week, the First Five Years Fund (FYFF) released the results of a new national poll.

The good news, “a broad coalition of national and swing state voters overwhelmingly support a number of specific proposals related to early learning and care,” a press release explains, adding:

“There is widespread support among voters for Congress and the Biden administration to pursue a variety of early childhood education policies, big and small, to improve access, affordability, and quality.” (more…)

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“Our team has been researching and writing about the need to expand access to high-quality pre-K for many years, but the COVID-19 pandemic brings added urgency to this issue. Pre-K is not a silver bullet, but after a year of children experiencing trauma from significant disruptions in their routines, economic insecurity, illness, and loss, high-quality pre-K can help get them on the path to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

“We currently have a window of opportunity. The Biden administration has expressed interest in universal pre-K. Senator Murray, a former preschool teacher, is set to lead the Senate education committee and is an outspoken proponent of the Child Care for Working Families Act. The Democrats hold a slight majority in both the House and Senate, but do not possess the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. However, we shouldn’t write pre-K off as an issue only supported by Democrats. National polls show there is strong support nationwide among voters from both parties. Oklahoma, one of the country’s most conservative states, was one of the first to create a well-regarded universal preschool program. And there is currently an appetite for investment in pre-K. Universal pre-K did well in the 2020 election at the state and local level. And California’s new masterplan for early education calls for universal pre-K for all four-year-olds.”

 

“Universal Access to Pre-K Should Be Part of Our Economic Recovery,” by Aaron Loewenberg and Abbie Lieberman, New America blog post,
January 14, 2021

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Screenshot: The White House Twitter account

 

Section 1.  Policy. Every student in America deserves a high-quality education in a safe environment. This promise, which was already out of reach for too many, has been further threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. School and higher education administrators, educators, faculty, child care providers, custodians and other staff, and families have gone above and beyond to support children’s and students’ learning and meet their needs during this crisis. Students and teachers alike have found new ways to teach and learn. Many child care providers continue to provide care and learning opportunities to children in homes and centers across the country. However, leadership and support from the Federal Government is needed.Two principles should guide the Federal Government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis with respect to schools, child care providers, Head Start programs, and higher education institutions. First, the health and safety of children, students, educators, families, and communities is paramount. Second, every student in the United States should have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, during and beyond the pandemic.”

 

“Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers,” President Joseph R. Biden Jr., January 21, 2021, Presidential Actions

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Screenshot: The White House Twitter account

 

Inaugurated yesterday, President Joe Biden is already busy. Among his most important early efforts is a plan to address the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, a $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal that includes $40 billion for child care.

The need is, as CNBC reports, substantial. “Women are being particularly hard hit, either missing out on promotions, having to leave the workforce, or losing their jobs. One in 4 are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether, according to a September report by Lean In and McKinsey & Co.

“Meanwhile, women accounted for 100% of the jobs lost in December, an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center found.”

Biden’s plans could have a historic impact.

“Not since the New Deal during the Great Depression have we seen such an ambitious economic stimulus plan,” C. Nicole Mason, president and chief executive of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, tells the New York Times. “What that signals to me is that the new administration understands the magnitude of the problem.”

In a press release CLASP (the Center for Law and Social Policy) says of Biden’s proposed stimulus: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

“We recommit ourselves to achieving racial equity in early childhood and school-age programs through advocacy, action, and policy change. Together we will stand up, speak out, and work to dismantle the historical systems of racism and inequity.”

These are the last two lines in our Collective Statement on Racial Justice that over thirty organizations signed on to in June 2020.

As we reflect on the horrific events this week – a violent assault on our democracy – we must redouble our efforts to work for the change we want to see in local communities, in Massachusetts, and across our country. 

NAEYC has resources on trauma, stress, and violence for early childhood educators working to support children in many different settings along with the guidance in NAEYC’s Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education position statement to support your conversations with them, as well as families and colleagues. If you need more resources or would like to sign your organization on to our Collective Statement, email us.

Despite the trauma of this week, democracy continues. (more…)

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Photo: Gagan Kaur, from Pexels

 

On Sunday, Congress hashed out a second, $900 billion stimulus package to help the country weather the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, Congress passed the bill.

It’s an investment that includes $10 billion for child care providers who have struggled during the pandemic.

“Although the vast majority of child-care programs opened back up after the spring stay-at-home orders lifted, many daycare center and preschool owners are taking on huge financial losses — both personal and professional,” a CNBC story explains.

The story adds:

“About 56% of child-care providers report losing money by staying open, according to the latest survey from the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Moreover, 42% of the December survey respondents say they have taken on debt using personal credit cards to pay for supplies and other items.

“That’s because many centers are still operating at lower capacities, even as costs rise. The survey found that 91% are paying extra for cleaning supplies, 73% have taken on extra expenses for personal protective equipment and 60% are paying additional staff wages.”

The stimulus will help, but there is, as CNBC adds, an important caveat: (more…)

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“The pandemic has shined a harsh light on what has been a long-festering problem. The world’s largest economy notoriously lags other industrialized countries in investing in child care and early education: The U.S. spends less than 1% of gross domestic product, putting it ahead of only Turkey and Ireland among the member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. ‘Almost all developed countries have things like subsidized child care, paid family leave, universal health care,’ says Sandra Black, an economist at Columbia University. ‘The economics make sense.’ ”

“The lack of family-focused policies isn’t just inconvenient for working parents, it’s become increasingly clear it’s holding women—and by extension the country—back. According to a report from S&P Global Inc., the U.S. could add $1.6 trillion to GDP if women entered and stayed in the workforce at a rate similar to Norway’s, which has government-subsidized day care.

“One estimate found that if American mothers continued to cut back on work at the same rate as during the first wave of Covid in April, the accumulated loss in wages would amount to $64.5 billion annually. This reality may finally be sinking in for policymakers. ‘We’re in the mainstream discussion of economics,’ says Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women. ‘We were fully excluded before.’ ”

 

“The U.S. Child-Care Crisis Is Torturing Parents and the Economy,” by Cynthia Koons, Bloomberg Businessweek, December 10, 2020

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“It’s important to remember that before Covid, child care did not work in the United States…. I was part of a major study at New America, and it’s one many others have done, that really found that our child care — [that] we don’t really have a child care system. It’s a broken sort of patchwork that parents are expected to pay so much [for] out of pocket. It’s so much more expensive than most parents can afford. It’s very difficult to find quality child care. And the care educators and teachers, they’re earning poverty wages. About half of them earn so little that they qualify for public benefits like Medicaid and Food Stamps.”

“The other thing that’s just really startling is in surveys when people ask child care providers, How are you? Are you going to stay open? So many of them can’t. We are at risk of losing a million child care slots in an already broken system.”

 

“Why Women Are Disproportionately Impacted By The Pandemic Economy,” Brigid Schulte, Director of the Better Life Lab program and The Good Life Initiative at New America, on the Diane Rehm Show, WAMU Radio, December 1, 2020

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It’s Election Day!

If you haven’t already, be sure to vote!

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