In Focus: Pre-kindergarten
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.
Apr 30, 2013 | Permalink »
Federal Investment is Critical as Preschool Programs Face Decreased Funding, Stalled Enrollment
As the early childhood community rallies around President Obama's recent budget proposal to expand access to high-quality early learning for young children, a critical foundation of that proposal - pre-kindergarten - continues to erode. The State of Preschool 2012 released by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) this week reports that nationally, investments by states in pre-kindergarten programs have declined dramatically, dropping by over half a billion dollars from 2011 to 2012 - the largest one year funding drop since NIEER began collecting data in the 2001-2002 school year.
NIEER found that in 2012, states spent on average $3,841 per child in their preschool programs. Adjusted for inflation this is a $1,100 dollar decrease since 2001-2002. Twenty seven of the 40 states that offer state-funded pre-kindergarten programs cut spending in 2011-2012. As funding decreased, enrollment in programs showed little change - forcing programs to do more with less. Programs served 1,333,663 children in 2011-2012 compared to 1,323,128 children in 2010-2011. Nationally, state-funded pre-kindergarten programs enrolled the same percentage of children as last year-28 percent of 4-year-olds and 4 percent of 3-year-olds. The District of Columbia served the highest number of both 3-and 4-year-olds, 69 percent and 92 percent, respectively. Florida and Oklahoma each served more than 70 percent of 4-year-olds in their state.
NIEER's annual Yearbook chronicles state investments and policies on state-operated preschool programs that provide early education at least two days per week to 3- and 4-year-olds. NIEER included state Head Start investments in its analysis, if those investments expanded access to services for additional children.
Across the country, greater investments in preschool programs are essential. Young, vulnerable children and their families depend on preschool and other child care and early education programs for critical support. To show our commitment to the investments the President is proposing for early learning, CLASP, together with our partners from the Strong Start for Children campaign, are collecting thank you notes from across the country and delivering them to the White House.
We hope you will join us in thanking President Obama by mailing CLASP your hardcopy letters (a drawing or hand print by a child on your letter would be great) to deliver to the White House. Please send your letters and drawings by Thursday, May 2 to: Emily Firgens, CLASP, 1200 18th ST NW, Suite 200, Washington DC, 20036 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, and please contact Emily Firgens at email@example.com or 202-906-8031 if you have any questions.