In Focus: Systems and Financing
Jun 05, 2013 | Permalink »
President Proposes Smart and Urgent Investment with Early Learning Plan
The Academic Pediatric Association (APA) recently called child poverty: "the most important problem facing children in the US today." Nearly half of our youngest children, under age 6, live in households earning less than twice the federal poverty level, or $23,550 for a family of four. From children's earliest days, public investments fall far short of meeting their needs. And for both low- and middle-income families, the public safeguards and supports that have buttressed them during challenging times now face serious threats. Cuts under the federal budget sequester are in place and will get worse in future years. The country's safety net, which has deteriorated from having gaping holes to now being nearly shredded, is insufficient to help those who lost jobs and income in the recent recession.
This disinvestment in programs to help low-income families is not without consequence. Poverty robs young children of the developmental and educational inputs they need during a critical period of early development. The result: increasing numbers of children arriving in kindergarten without the fundamental skills they need for success in school and in life. With more children in households falling out of the middle class, we cannot afford, as a country, to ignore this crisis any longer.
We can do much to reduce poverty and increase opportunity in this country. And central to nearly every serious plan is a significant investment in child care and early education.The long term effects of high-quality early education for disadvantaged children have been well-documented. The return on investment has been calculated. The positive impact on the economy has been quantified. Economists, educators, business leaders, and policymakers alike have recognized the significant need for and substantial benefits of affordable, quality child care and early education for both children and parents.
May 20, 2013 | Permalink »
Financing Partnerships: Gather 'Round the Table
This post originally appeared on May 14 on the Smart Start Oklahoma Website.
In April, CLASP colleague Stephanie Schmit and I had the pleasure of attending the Smart Start Oklahoma Conference, and presenting on the topic of financing partnerships. I know financing is not the most popular topic in the early childhood field. Most of us are in this for the kids and families, and we would rather talk about child development than dollars. And yet, when it comes to serving children and families the most common challenge is money. That's why I love putting the topic on the table - getting it out in the open where we can talk about it honestly and strategically.
We at CLASP have traveled far and wide to talk about our work on financing partnerships for comprehensive early childhood programs, and everywhere we go we hear new perspectives and learn new things, ranging from a community using an unexpected public funding stream in an innovative way to administrative policies that help manage the challenges of layering funding streams.
While in Oklahoma, we had yet another new conversation. It was near the end of one of our presentations, and we were talking about our financing worksheet - a tool in the appendix to Putting it Together: A Guide to Financing Comprehensive Services in Child Care and Early Education. As usual, we suggested that the worksheet is a good tool to bring to the table for planning, and as a follow-up we asked a simple question - what kind of "tables" do you all sit at in your communities?
The responses in the room were rich and detailed. Participants talked about tables where they had been for 20 years and for two years. Tables built around specific funding streams, and tables with no funding at all. Tables that were state-wide, and tables in smaller communities and neighborhoods. And as everyone talked we realized that finding the right table has to happen at the beginning of the financing discussion, not the end. Because financing partnerships are built on relationships, and just like our families benefit from being around the table for dinner, our community partners benefit from being around the table to talk about common needs, common goals, and collaborative solutions. It is from the relationships we establish and nourish at those tables that creative and innovative financing solutions will emerge.
So next time you're thinking about options for financing the important work you do, start at the table. Look around at the colleagues who've been sitting there with you for years, but don't be afraid to invite new people to your table too. And if you don't have a table, create one and set it in the most welcoming way. Coffee and cookies won't hurt either. And if you need a conversation starter to get you going, visit the CLASP website for the financing guide and worksheet, and feel free to give us a call to help you get started. We're always eager to share what we've learned - and to learn from the great work of so many across the country whose hearts are with children and families but who have to think about financing every now and then!
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.