A Look Back and a Look Ahead
This time last year, news of the first Early Learning Challenge grant recipients dominated early childhood headlines and advocates celebrated modest increases in funding for core early childhood programs in what was a very tight federal budget.
This year, as we prepare to close the book on 2012, it feels as if challenges dominate. Negotiations to resolve the so-called fiscal cliff continue with weighty implications for low-income families, as well as early childhood funding. In the meantime, while policymakers are bargaining, vulnerable families continue a daily struggle in an economy that favors those with the highest incomes.
With persistent child poverty and threats to the very programs that provide opportunity to young children as a backdrop, we have focused much of our work this past year on raising up the needs of our country's youngest children. We've urged policymakers to protect investments in children, we've denounced proposals that would roll back support for children, we've called out new lows in child care assistance, harmful state policy trends in child care and preschool, and the absence of paid leave for parents.
But we've not only played defense. We've worked with states to advance home visiting as a model for supporting informal caregivers. We've promoted new strategies for financing comprehensive services in child care settings, and have put forward promising policies for young English Language Learners and Limited English Proficient families.
It's been a difficult year for those of us in the early childhood community - let alone the low-income families we all support. But CLASP believes not only that we have a moral obligation to help these most vulnerable families, but also that the country and the economy are stronger when we all do well-and so the work continues steadfast in 2013! Look for CLASP's voice calling for access to high-quality child care and early education for children birth to five, increased cultural competency in early childhood policies, improved state infant/toddler child care policies, innovative financing of comprehensive services in child care settings and more.
It's impossible to do work on behalf of young children without a sense of optimism. As we head into 2013, let's work to give all young children a reason to smile. The CLASP child care and early education team wishes you the best for a happy holiday season.
In case you missed them, here are some highlights of publications from the CLASP Child Care and Early Education team in 2012:
- Expanding Access to Early Head Start: State Initiatives for Infants and Toddlers at Risk (jointly with ZERO TO THREE)
- Putting it Together: A Guide to Financing Comprehensive Services in Child Care and Early Education
- Home Away From Home: A Toolkit for Planning Home Visiting Partnerships with Family, Friend, and Neighbor Caregivers
- A Count for Quality: Child Care Center Directors on Rating and Improvement Systems (jointly with NWLC)
- Putting Children and Families First and Supporting Our Youngest Children briefs on Head Start and Early Head Start Programs in 2010.
- State Child Care Policies for Limited English Proficient Families