In Focus: Infants and Toddlers

Jul 9, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

A Two-Generation Approach to Policy

By Stephanie Schmit

In a forum earlier today, co-hosted by CLASP and the Foundation for Child Development (FCD), panelists discussed two-generation policy solutions to reduce poverty. Panelists highlighted local innovation, as well as opportunities for large-scale federal and state policy changes to improve educational opportunities from early childhood to community college to workforce development. With diverse perspectives and experiences, the panelists shared a common vision that the circumstances of poor families are too important and too widespread to continue our current public policies without rethinking how to serve families as a whole, rather than adults and children independently. Fortunately, we have many opportunities to take action.

A new CLASP brief examines major federal and state policy areas for large-scale change that better support families as a whole. Two-generation policies reflect strong research findings that the well-being of parents is inextricably linked to children’s social-emotional, physical, and economic well-being. And at the same time, parents’ ability to succeed in school and the workplace is substantially affected by how well their children are doing. Despite growth of local two-generation programs, which combine services for parents and children, little attention has been given to two-generation approaches to large-scale policy change. These opportunities include:

  • Pair education and training pathways with child care and early education. Identifying opportunities for better policy choices that would make it easier to pair education and training pathways with early education would help both parents and children. This would require rethinking program design throughout many policy areas, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), workforce development, higher education, child care, and Head Start.
  • Expand early childhood home visiting programs through state and federal investments, and seize other opportunities to help parents and young children in their very vulnerable early years. Home visiting programs offer a variety of voluntary, family-focused services to expectant parents and families with new babies and young children in the families’ homes. Many home visiting programs have a two-generation approach, focusing on the parenting skills and needs of parents while providing child development activities, although this varies tremendously depending upon the model used.
  • Improve child care policies for both children and parents. Continuity and stability of care can improve children’s early education as well as adults’ work stability.  Removing work schedule verification requirements and allowing for broader authorizations can make child care assistance more usable for parents with work schedule challenges.  Linking child care enrollment policies with those of other public benefits can also reduce the burden on parents to get and keep subsidies.
  • Improve labor policies for low-income workers.  A comprehensive package of improvements in labor policies, including an increase in the minimum wage, advance notice of job schedules, the right to request and receive flexible and predictable job schedules, minimum hours, and paid family and medical leave and paid sick days, would support low-income workers in their role as parents.
  • Expand access to health care and mental health treatment. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers a game-changing opportunity. The ACA tears down major barriers to depression treatment and provides many mothers with health insurance for the first time. The benefit package includes mental health (and substance abuse) treatment, access to primary and preventive care, as well as, prevention screening and quality measures to target depression.

Read the full brief here>>

Watch the webcast here>>

Jun 6, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

Expanding High-Quality Child Care for Babies: ACF Releases Funding Opportunity

By Hannah Matthews

Today, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) launched a historic funding opportunity to advance high-quality, comprehensive infant and toddler child care across the country. With $500 million available in Congress' FY 2014 spending bill, Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership and Early Head Start (EHS) Expansion grants will leverage EHS and child care dollars to expand access to full-day services for poor, young children. Funding will be made available within each state based on the number of young children in poverty. 

Eligible applicants may apply for funding through three opportunities:

  1. EHS-CC Partnerships. New or existing EHS grantees will partner with center-based child care or family child care homes to provide full-day, high-quality infant-toddler care that meets EHS standards.  Applicants proposing EHS-CC partnerships will receive the highest funding priority.
  2. Non-Partnership EHS Expansion. New or existing EHS grantees may expand the number of slots in traditional EHS centers or family child care homes. Funds may not be used to expand the EHS home-based model. Applicants will be expected to propose providing full-day, full-year services for a minimum of 48 weeks. Non-Partnership Expansion applicants must justify why an EHS-CC partnership is not the best approach for their community.
  3. Combination EHS Expansion and Partnerships.  New or existing grantees may expand the number of slots in EHS programs and also partner with center-based or family child care. Applicants proposing a combination of EHS expansion and EHS-CC partnership will receive priority over straight expansion models.

All grant funds, including EHS-CC Partnerships, Non-Partnership EHS Expansion, and Combination EHS Expansion and Partnerships may be used to serve children from birth to 36 months in center-based settings and children from birth to 48 months in family child care settings. All applicants must consider a birth to five continuum of high-quality early care and education in developing their proposals.  

All grantees are required to leverage existing local resources and collaborate with community organizations to provide the full array of comprehensive services to young children. EHS-CC Partnership grantees must ensure that a minimum of 25 percent of slots are filled by children who receive child care subsidies and are also EHS eligible. Applicants who propose filling at least 40 percent of their slots with children receiving subsidies will receive additional points.

Applicants who propose serving children who reside in high-poverty zip codes and federally designated Promise Zones will receive additional points.

CLASP will continue to review the funding opportunity and provide supporting information and resources. Applications for funding are due by August 20. The complete funding opportunity announcement is available here.

May 14, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

Strong Start for America’s Children Act Moves Forward in Senate

By Stephanie Schmit

Today, the Senate passed the Strong Start for America’s Children Act out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee. The Strong Start bill would establish a partnership between state and federal governments to equip states to improve and expand high-quality, full-day preschool programs for four-year-olds with the goal of increasing school readiness. It would also establish Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships that would bring high-quality infant and toddler care that meets Early Head Start standards to many more children.   

High-quality early education experiences are widely recognized as key to preparing young children for school success and improving the lifetime employment and earnings of low-income children. In addition to children and families, our society as a whole bears a large cost burden for children not equipped to succeed in life. The Strong Start Act would help equalize the opportunities children have at the starting gate. In particular, the following components of the bill would advance high-quality, comprehensive early care and education access for children across the country by:

  • Setting clear expectations for high-quality services including high staff qualifications and developmentally appropriate and evidence-based curricula and learning environments.
  • Providing critical supports to increase the educational attainment of the early childhood workforce.
  • Addressing the needs of low-income working families by allowing schools, Head Start and child care settings to offer pre-kindergarten and establishing expectations for the provision of full-day services and comprehensive health services.
  • Providing for partnerships between Early Head Start and child care programs to ensure that more vulnerable infants, toddlers and their families have access to the comprehensive early education and family support services that are the hallmark of Head Start.
  • Building on existing state structures by providing funding to help states expand access and improve the quality of existing state pre-kindergarten programs. Because a variety of early education settings are needed to meet different families’ needs, schools, Head Start programs, and community-based child care can compete for resources to provide quality care in communities that need it. States will also have the flexibility to use funds for quality improvements, and to serve infants and toddlers.

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