In Focus: Head Start/Early Head Start
May 17, 2013 | Permalink »
The Most Important Problem Facing Children in the US Today
In the early 1950's, polio crippled tens of thousands of people in the United States each year, shut down public facilities, and struck fear among parents everywhere. But thanks to a massive public health effort that reached into every community, by 1979 polio had been eliminated from the U.S.
What if we tackled child poverty with the same determination and commitment that we put into eliminating polio? At a time when one in five children lives in poverty, income inequality is growing, and the severe negative long-term consequences of childhood poverty are known, the analogy is not farfetched.
This week, the Academic Pediatric Association (APA) Task Force on Childhood Poverty declared that childhood poverty is "the most important problem facing children in the US today" and issued a Strategic Road Map for addressing it as a public health issue. The APA Task Force commits to raising the voice of pediatricians to build public support for policies that will both reduce childhood poverty and address the negative effects of poverty on children's physical and mental health and development. This builds on similar statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
May 14, 2013 | Permalink »
CLASP Heads to White House to Thank President Obama for Early Learning Proposal
On Monday, CLASP was proud to visit the White House with our partners from the Strong Start for Children Campaign to deliver 30,000 letters and pictures to Cecilia Munoz, Director of President Obama's Domestic Policy Council. Children and advocates delivered these messages to thank President Obama for proposing his early learning initiative.
The President's early learning initiative calls for historic investments to expand access to high-quality early learning programs through a comprehensive birth-to-five early education agenda. His initiative calls for a new federal-state partnership to provide low- and moderate-income four-year-old children with high-quality preschool. It expands voluntary home visiting programs that support parents with young children. It also provides increased access to comprehensive, high-quality child care for infants and toddlers through investments in Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.
Thanks to all of you who shared your letters, pictures, and drawings of appreciation! The White House was impressed with our strong showing and appreciates the hard work of so many to help bring this initiative to reality.
Stay tuned for campaign updates and successes as the White House's proposal works its way through Congress.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Martin/photosbyjeffrey.com.
May 13, 2013 | Permalink »
Parental Unemployment Takes its Toll on Children
As the U.S. continues recovering from the Great Recession, unemployment among the nation's families is a persistent concern. In an average month in 2012, 6.2 million children lived with unemployed parents, and 12.1 million children were affected by an unemployed or underemployed parent. Parental unemployment and underemployment can create instability for low-income children, which can be exacerbated when families face reduced eligibility for child care subsidies, or loss of subsidies entirely. Federal cuts to child care and Head Start funding under sequestration may further reduce access as Head Start classrooms close, and states tighten their child care subsidy eligibility policies.
A recent report from the Urban Institute and First Focus analyzes unemployment from the perspective of children, looking at the impact a parent's job loss can have on children and how many children around the country have been affected by this. Families experience decreased financial resources with the loss of a job, making it hard to cover monthly expenses and provide for their children's developmental needs. Increased parent irritability and depression as a result of job loss can strain family relations and lead to increases in conflicts. Several studies have shown unemployment can negatively impact children's school performance.
The report finds that black children are twice as likely to live with an unemployed parent as white children, and that children of college-educated parents are less likely to have unemployed parents than other children. Children in single-parent families are also more likely to live with an unemployed parent than children in two-parent families. The number of children with unemployed parents varies greatly across states. Nationally, 9 percent of children live with at least one unemployed parent. In California, 11 percent of children live with at least one unemployed parent, and 13 percent of children in the District of Columbia live with at least one unemployed parent. However, less than 4 percent of children in North Dakota and Vermont live with an unemployed parent.
Families and children with one or more unemployed parent would benefit from strengthened policies for unemployment insurance, child care subsidies, and other benefit programs that are critical to the stability and well being of low-income, vulnerable families. In combination with consistent funding, strong child care subsidy policies that can help families weather the disruptions of employment include:
- Extended job search periods for families who have been eligible for subsidies but have had hours reduced, or have become unemployed;
- More flexible eligibility and reporting requirements, such as reducing the employment or salary triggers for changes in subsidy eligibility;
- Annual eligibility redetermination policies, to allow children continuity in care settings while their parents weather bumpy economic roads.
Policies should reflect what is best for children and families during times of unemployment. Thoughtful action at the federal, state, and local level can help support families through this difficult time and reduce the negative impact unemployment can have on children and the entire family.