Building Ready States

Thursday, December 16th, 2010 | Author: Smart Start

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices has released a new report: Building Ready States: A Governor’s Guide to Supporting a Comprehensive, High-Quality Early Childhood State System.

“With more than 60 percent of all children from birth to age 5 spending time in the care of someone other than their parents, publicly supported early childhood programs must provide safe, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate experiences that foster healthy growth and learning. This report by the NGA Center offers six policy strategies governors can use to build and nurture a comprehensive, high-quality early childhood system including:

  • Coordinate early childhood governance through a state early childhood advisory council (ECAC);
  • Build an integrated professional development system;
  • Implement a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS);
  • Develop a longitudinal and coordinated early childhood data system;
  • Align comprehensive early learning guidelines and standards for children from birth to age 8 with K–3 content standards; and
  • Integrate federal, state and private funding sources.

The report also includes information about how the policy map for early childhood care and education is significantly different from other public systems. Unlike the structured and contained K–12 system, early childhood care and education programs and services encompass diverse program types, service environments, professional staff and care providers.”

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New Poverty and Subsidy Data

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 | Author: Smart Start

Two organizations release new state data.

The National Women’s Law Center released state-by-state fact sheets, which include information about income eligibility limits and reimbursement rates.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Center has been updated to include poverty data from the 2009 American Community Survey that was released on September 28 by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Data Center breaks down child poverty rates by congressional district.

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Looking at America’s Early Childhood Policies

Thursday, November 11th, 2010 | Author: Smart Start

On October 13, the Center on Children and Families at Brookings and the National Institute for Early Education Research released a new collection of papers that assesses the field of early childhood education and child care. Edited by Senior Fellow Ron Haskins and W. Steven Barnett of Rutgers University, Investing in Young Children: New Directions in Federal Preschool and Early Childhood Policy focuses on Early Head Start, Head Start, and home visiting programs. The editors recommend reforms for all three programs, including closing ineffective Head Start centers or giving other program operators the opportunity to compete for Head Start funds. Other recommendations include offering a few states broad regulatory relief to innovate and coordinate Head Start with other state preschool educational programs and child care.

Download the report.

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Online Seminar on Early Childhood Collaboration

Tuesday, November 09th, 2010 | Author: Smart Start

A new CONNECT Module on communication for collaboration is now available. This module focuses on effective communication practices that can be used to promote collaboration with professionals and families in early care and education, and intervention settings. CONNECT Modules are free and designed using an evidence-based approach to professional development. Resources include video clips, activities, and handouts. The modules are focused on teaching and intervening effectively with young children in a variety of early learning environments and inclusive settings and are designed to be embedded into existing curricula, coursework and other professional development opportunities.

View the CONNECT Module.

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IBM donates “Young Explorer” computer centers to Child Care Programs and Schools across North Carolina

Thursday, November 04th, 2010 | Author: Smart Start

Young children from low-resource communities across the state will soon have access to brightly-colored, kid-friendly computer centers. With a $260,000 grant from IBM, The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC) and Communities In Schools of North Carolina (CISNC) provided 100 Young Explorer™ computer centers, each valued at $2,600, to early childhood development programs in 59 counties across the state.

“IBM is committed to breaking down the digital divide and helping all children to have access to technology,” said Tina Wilson, Manager of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs.  “Through our partnership with NCPC and Communities In Schools of North Carolina, we can help young children at an early age use technology as a learning tool to begin developing early literacy and computer skills needed to succeed in school.”

The computer centers are part of IBM’s KidSmart program, a global early learning technology initiative to support the early childhood education of children internationally. The Young Explorer™ is a computer housed in brightly-colored, kid-friendly Little Tikes™ furniture. The center comes with award-winning educational software to help children learn and explore concepts in math, science and language. Children also learn important socialization skills such as working together and sharing. To learn more about the Young Explorer™ learning center and the KidSmart program, please visit www.kidsmartearlylearning.org.

“This grant truly is a reflection of IBM’s commitment to the education of North Carolina’s students and of the power of collaboration,” said Linda Harrill, President and CEO of Communities In Schools of North Carolina. “For students to achieve, they need the support of the entire community. By partnering with NCPC, we can support even more North Carolina children become eager and successful students.”

“Technology provides another way for young children to explore their world—an important part of healthy early childhood development. We are grateful for IBM’s dedication to improving the lives of our youngest children,” said Stephanie Fanjul, president of NCPC, the organization that oversees Smart Start.

For the past 21 years, CISNC has been helping North Carolina school districts surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. As a result, CISNC is a leading statewide dropout prevention organization. Partnerships with agencies such as NCPS and with corporations like IBM are a key part of that strategy.

CISNC and NCPC are providing the Young Explorer™ centers to child care programs and schools in:

  • Alamance County
  • Alleghany County
  • Anson County
  • Ashe County
  • Avery County
  • Beaufort County
  • Bertie County
  • Bladen County
  • Brunswick County
  • Caldwell County
  • Caswell County
  • Cherokee County
  • Chowan County
  • Clay County
  • Cleveland County
  • Cumberland County
  • Davidson County
  • Duplin County
  • Durham County
  • Edgecombe County
  • Forsyth County
  • Gaston County
  • Graham County
  • Greene County
  • Guilford County
  • Halifax County
  • Haywood County
  • Hoke County
  • Hyde County
  • Jones County
  • Lee County
  • Lenoir County
  • Lincoln County
  • Madison County
  • McDowell County
  • Mitchell County
  • Montgomery County
  • Moore County
  • New Hanover County
  • Pamlico County
  • Perquimans County
  • Pitt County
  • Richmond County
  • Robeson County
  • Rowan County
  • Rockingham County
  • Rutherford County
  • Sampson County
  • Scotland County
  • Stokes County
  • Swain County
  • Transylvania County
  • Tyrrell County
  • Vance County
  • Wake County
  • Washington County
  • Wilkes County
  • Wilson County
  • Yancey County

 # # #

Communities In Schools of North Carolina is part of the national CIS group, the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization, and the only one proven to both decrease dropout rates and increase on-time graduation.  Last school year, the CIS network in North Carolina worked with more than 100,000 youth and their families across the state, empowering more than 96 percent of its eligible high school students to remain in school.  For more information, please visit www.cisnc.org or call 1-800-849-8881.

The earliest years of childhood are critical. Experiences during this time literally shape the structure of the brain. Because today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders, parents and workers, everyone has a stake in making sure all children have the experiences they need to thrive. Smart Start is the system that brings together all the people involved in a young child’s life—families, teachers, doctors, caregivers, social workers, and many others—to ensure every child has all they need for healthy growth and development. For more information, visit www.smartstart.org.

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Improving Early Childhood Quality with Professional Development

Tuesday, November 02nd, 2010 | Author: Smart Start

Lifting Pre-K Quality:Caring and Effective Teachers, a new report by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Texas, Houston, recommends the implementation of intensive teacher training and mentoring at the preschool level. It looks at the need to move from what it calls  input-based strategies (i.e. requiring bachelor’s degrees for preschool teachers) to those have more evidence of improving outcomes for children. The report is generating much discussion.

Maggie Stevens from New America Foundation’s Early Ed Watch provides an excellent summary. She notes that the frank conversation  around which approaches to improving program quality are proving successful, and which approaches simply aren’t successful enough are crucial if we want pre-k programs to help children reach their full potential.

In an Ed Week blog, Maureen Kelleher asks if the researchers asking the right question. She interviews Dr. Cheryl Roberts, who will be moderating a panel on PreK-3  at the annual NAEYC conference.

The report concludes by saying, “Minimal health and safety standards are essential for children’s well-being. But advocates and policy makers must go further, recognizing that progress depends upon elevating the skills of teachers and enriching relationships and instruction inside classrooms.”

Read more:

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Congressman David Price speaks on early childhood and education issues

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 | Author: Smart Start

From What’s New for Chatham Kids, a blog by the Chatham County Partnership for Children:

Congressman David Price speaks out on early childhood and education issues.

What can be done to make affordable housing for families a priority?

As a member of the Appropriations subcommittee on Transportation Housing and Urban Development, I have supported a broad range of initiatives designed to help families secure affordable housing. In particular the HOPE VI program has been a success in our area, helping develop affordable housing communities that foster civic engagement, safety and in some cases, job training. I would look to continue my long support for these programs in a new Congress.

I also believe more can and should be done to combat the housing foreclosure crisis. Although there are a number of initiatives Congress enacted and the Obama Administration instituted to try and prevent mortgage foreclosures, I supported additional, more aggressive measures to keep people in their homes. For example, during debate of the Wall Street Reform bill, I supported a provision that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to alter the terms of mortgages for homeowners facing foreclosure. Although I believe this measure would have helped stave off many more foreclosures, it was not included in the final bill. I also support strong actions taken by the Justice Department and state Attorneys General to investigate possible malfeasance on the part of lenders who were all too eager to initiate foreclosures.

What should be done to ensure access to food?
I believe we have an obligation to ensure that children in America are well-nourished and do not go hungry. During the height of the economic recession, I voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Recovery Act provided an additional $80 per month to families of four participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

I have also supported the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which provides meals to young children in low-income areas enrolled in day care programs. And, I have supported the Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program, which ensures school-age students receive the nourishment the need to learn in the classroom. The Recovery Act included $100 million for school districts to improve their food service equipment allowing them to provide food to children more efficiently.

There are stark differences between my opponent and me on this issue. He favors eliminating the Department of Agriculture and abolishing this important program. I will continue to fight for resources that help combat hunger in America, especially among children.

How can access to and awareness of resources be increased?
My congressional office staff and I are always ready to help constituents access resources that are available to them through federal agencies. Your members and voters should not hesitate to contact any of my district-based offices if they have questions about securing services through a federal agency, or encounter difficulties navigating the application process.

What can be done to ensure access to quality early care and education for children from birth to five?
I believe the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program plays an important role in ensuring both access to health care and nutrition education. I voted to provide the WIC programs with an additional $99 million in funding as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment. This investment will allow the program to serve more women from early pregnancy until their children turn five.

The health insurance reform law takes significant steps to ensure access to early health care for children. Reform legislation has already barred insurance companies from denying access to coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. Those same protections will be phased in over the next few years for adults.

I am also an advocate for Head Start. It is a critical investment in child development and early education for children from low-income families, and it provides health and nutrition services. Members of North Carolina’s model Smart Start program have much to be proud of for their work in this policy area. North Carolina’s program will be a valuable resource as Congress considers legislation to improve Head Start.

I believe these are all appropriate responses to the pressing problem of access to care and proper nutrition for children from low income families. Congress is likely to take up reauthorization of several major pieces of legislation in this policy area in the next session. I would welcome input from activists on legislative solutions that address the needs of communities in the Fourth Congressional District.

How should standards for child care quality be raised?
This is a policy area where I have sponsored legislation that leverages the unique strengths of both the private sector and legislative action. I am a co-sponsor of the Right Start Child Act and Education Act (H.R. 460) which would increase the tax credit for employers establishing workplace childcare facilities, increase the childcare tax credit for parents to encourage greater use of quality childcare services, and provide incentives for students to earn childcare-related degrees. Workplace childcare facilities keep children close to their parents, giving the entire family more piece of mind. And incentives encouraging more students to become qualified childcare providers should lead to more qualified and professional childcare across the board.

I am also a co-sponsor of the Child Care Facilities Financing Act, which would help lower-income communities meet capital needs for early education programs across the country.

In addition, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included a $2 billion investment in the Child Care Development Fund, which will help make significant progress toward raising child care quality. I voted to allow states to use this funding to meet health and safety needs, train childcare providers and hire specialists that work with younger children. With other programs the total federal investment in child care programs in North Carolina is more than $67 million, reflecting a renewed commitment to these programs under Democratic leadership.

These votes should indicate that I believe partnership across many levels of government and between many institutions can prove fertile ground for efforts to improve both childcare standards and quality.

 What investments should be made in teachers?
As a former educator, raising teacher quality by increasing standards and implementing programs to retain the best teachers has been a focus of my work in Congress. Good teachers are extremely valuable to our young people, our communities and our country.

I am the author of Keep Teachers Teaching Act (H.R. 1161), which would support innovative ways to improve teacher quality and retain teachers that consistently meet academic targets. Nearly one third of teachers leave the profession within five years, creating high-turnover rates and constant challenges for local school districts in need of qualified teachers. We simply must fix this problem.

I also supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which including funding to help states improve teacher quality and provided competitive grants to provide performance-based pay to teachers and principals who close achievement gaps in underperforming schools. The Recovery Act also created the Race to the Top Grant program. Earlier this year North Carolina was awarded nearly $400 million in Race to The Top funding, which will help the state implement significant education reforms and improve the effectiveness of teachers.

Policy makers have taken steps to advance the goal of securing and retaining the best teachers, but the work is certainly not done.

What support should be offered to new parents and parents of young children?
No child should go to school hungry and unable to focus on learning. No parent should be bereft of information on how to care for a child. And no child care facility should offer low-quality care, or have unqualified individuals caring for children. I suspect we can all agree that none of these things should happen.

I believe that educating our children is a moral imperative. In Congress, I have worked to expand access to education and give children the support they need to learn. I’ve voted to expand school lunch programs that might be the only balanced meal a child receives all day.

In my view, federal policy and state policy can both play a role meeting the needs of parents and young children. Policies that harness the power of incentives often produce win-win situations for children and childcare providers. As a senior member of the Appropriations committee, I will continue to fight for the resources we need to educate our children and ensure they have a chance to live out their dreams.

What should be done to increase knowledge about how children develop?
We are fortunate that our local universities have strong child education and development programs. These research and education programs serve as laboratories in child development studies, and in my position on the Appropriations Committee, I have been a strong supporter of university-based research programs. I believe they can play a role in helping policy makers understand how children develop and form better policies. This is in stark opposition to my opponent who believes there is no role for federal investments in university based research.

As a parent of two children with differing test-taking aptitudes, I share concerns with some of our current testing and result measurement. Tests can be imperfect instruments for measuring learning, and there is a danger that instructors will “teach to the test” in order to show the needed aggregate proficiency rate. While we have made some advances in test design, we need to work closely to ensure that testing does not distort or dominate the approach of teachers, researchers and policymakers. Children, researches and policy makers are best served by an approach that takes a holistic approach to measuring child development.

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Rep. Hackney Discusses Early Childhood Issues

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 | Author: Smart Start

Represenative Joe Hackney Responds to Chatham County Partnership for Children Candidate Questionnaire

Thank you for the opportunity to respond. I have been a reliable friend and a believer in early childhood education and Smart Start throughout the time of our legislative initiatives in this area.

  1. Affordable Housing. Our best efforts are through the Housing Finance Agency, and the matching federal funding attracted by it. We should continue these programs. They are well complemented by non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity.
  2. Food. In this advanced time, no one should be without or hungry. Many different efforts, non-profits, state, county and federal, address this. We have CORA, homeless shelters, the renamed food stamps program, aging programs and many more.
  3. Access and awareness. Again, publicizing of the help available is done by a variety of governmental and non-governmental agencies and programs
  4. Early Childhood Care and Education. Keep Smart Start and More at Four strong. After the recession is over and state revenues rebound, funding may be able to return to previous levels.
  5. Standards. Our state has a good effort to grade and upgrade child care. I have supported this.
  6. Teachers. Teachers must be trained in the science of early childhood. We are making a lot of progress in this area. It should continue.
  7. Parents. New parents should have available to them the knowledge, and if requested the active assistance, of experienced folks with the knowledge of the science of early childhood.
  8. Increasing Knowledge. We should continue to invest in early childhood research (FPG), and to disseminate the research findings
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$3 Million Initiative to Tackle State’s Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 | Author: Smart Start

BCBSNC Foundation and The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. Launch $3 Million Initiative to Tackle State’s Childhood Obesity Epidemic

With North Carolina facing the fifth highest rate of childhood obesity in the country, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation today announced a three-year, $3 million partnership with The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC), the organization that oversees Smart Start. Through the partnership, the BCBSNC Foundation and NCPC will launch Shape NC: Healthy Starts for Young Children, a groundbreaking initiative that will tackle childhood obesity by focusing on young children from birth through age 5.

More than 31 percent of North Carolina’s children ages 2 to 4 are considered at risk for becoming overweight or are overweight. Shape NC will build upon existing NCPC networks across the state to target children in child care facilities, their families and child care professionals to increase knowledge and awareness of nutrition and the importance of physical activity.

“Shape NC is an answer to a staggering epidemic our state and nation are facing,” said Brad Wilson, chairman of the BCBSNC Foundation. “Bringing a program that reinforces the benefits of a healthy weight, nutritious foods, physical activity and healthy living to these children, their teachers and families is a powerful step in the right direction.”
Shape NC is built upon the foundation of three proven, existing programs, which the BCBSNC Foundation and NCPC have supported. These programs include:

  • Nutrition and Physical Activity Self Assessment for Child Care (NAPSACC) developed by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention,
  • Preventing Obesity by Design (POD) developed by North Carolina State University’s Natural Learning Initiative, and
  • Be Active Kids®, a signature program of the BCBSNC Foundation focused on early childhood
    physical activity. 

The launch of Shape NC is a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment to combat childhood obesity in North Carolina.

“Being healthy and fit in adulthood is largely determined by the communities in which we live as children,” said Stephanie Fanjul, president of NCPC. “Shape NC is about communities, especially child care communities, creating positive environments and making decisions that allow children to thrive and grow into healthy adults.”

For the past 17 years, The North Carolina Partnership for Children has been a leader in the state in caring for and preparing our children for success,” said Kathy Higgins, BCBSNC Foundation president. “Their expertise, grassroots infrastructure and proven record for getting things done are the essential elements to impacting such a critical issue as childhood obesity, particularly in the young children Shape NC will reach.”

Shape NC Anticipated Results:

  • A statewide policy blueprint for improving the health of North Carolina’s children.
  • 30 communities will create partnerships and action plans for obesity prevention in young children.
  • 100 early childhood professionals will broaden impact on healthy weight for young children by incorporating Shape NC strategies into their work with children, families and teachers, and as many as 60,000 children, 3,000 families and 2,500 child care teachers/directors will be reached.
  • 1,500 early childhood and other related professionals will implement new knowledge about outdoor learning environments and physical activities for children in child care.
  • 750 children attending model Shape NC early learning programs will maintain a healthy weight.
  • 35 early childhood staff in five pilot centers will model healthy behaviors as a result of participating in a health and wellness program focusing on weight management/maintenance, healthy eating, fitness and smoking cessation.
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Genevieve’s Story

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 | Author: Smart Start

“My daughter, Evelyn, has been going to Little Teddies since she was 3 months old. She has always been a picky eater, but since they started the NAP SACC program, she has been eating healthy foods at school. I think it’s important for a child care to give healthy foods because parents who are working constantly, like 12 hours a day, can’t always get home and get them something healthy. Sometimes you just end up picking up fast food. At least I know she gets healthy meals every day she goes to school.

Evelyn loves veggie rice and fruits like strawberries.  Broccoli is her favorite. If you steam it and put a little salt on it, she’s good to go.  She even asks me to cut it the same way Ms. Norma does it at school.”

-Genevieve Addison, Orange County

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