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Child Care

Amid Financial Collapse Detroit Builds a Promising Early Learning Model

October 7, 2013
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This guest post was written by Paul Nyhan, a journalist and early education expert. He writes about early education at Thrive by Five Washington.

In the next few months, guest blogger Paul Nyhan will provide a window onto four places around the country where federal grant programs, including Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, the Social Innovation Fund, Investing in Innovation, and Promise Neighborhoods, are triggering changes in early childhood systems. In this post, the second in Nyhan’s series, he explores how Detroit is using a Social Innovation Fund grant to help improve early learning. The first post in the series was "Washington Races Forward In First Year of its Early Learning Challenge Grant."

Detroit may be bankrupt, but it is also home to an early learning model that was promising enough to win a Social Innovation Fund grant in 2011 to figure out just how effective it is.

It began five years ago, when the United Way for Southeastern Michigan started building its Early Learning Communities platform. The intent was to nearly double the percentage of low-income children ready for kindergarten in Detroit. But the effort had been slowed by challenges documenting which parts worked and by a lack of money to pay for expansion.

Then two years ago the group won a $4 million Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grant to do both. The grant allowed the United Way to be a middleman and a mentor. It started by awarding smaller grants to 11 non-profits that formed a web of nearly every aspect of early learning in the city, from family, friend, and neighbor child care to nutritional counseling. Then it helped these groups develop tools to measure, evaluate, and replicate what they were doing.

Guest Post: Equality and Justice for All Families

July 12, 2013

Editor's note: This guest post was authored by Catherine Myers, the volunteer executive director of the national grassroots nonprofit Family and Home Network, founded in 1984.

Americans are passionate about equality and justice, and we should apply those principles to family policy discussions. We need to transform the prevailing frame—the focus on “working families”—to one that embraces all families with inclusive family policies.

The lens of equality and justice would illuminate the disparity between the value of parents’ roles in raising healthy children and the level of economic support provided to parents. Inclusive family policies would support parents equally regardless of how they choose to meet their income-earning and caregiving responsibilities. Policymakers striving for equality and justice would rely on robust research that shows how to improve the well-being of parents and their children by lifting families out of poverty and by implementing best practices in maternity care as well as in child and parent development.

HHS Proposes New Child Care Rules

May 21, 2013

Editor's note: This post originally appeared on New America's Early Education Initiative blog. Conor Williams recently joined the Early Education Initiative as a Senior Researcher. He's just completed a PhD in Government at Georgetown University, a degree he pursued after teaching first grade in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Conor's research addresses the challenges immigrant families face in the American education system, educational equity as a means to increased social mobility, and the history of education in the United States.

In an era of Washington gridlock, there’s almost nothing quite as gratifying as seeing big policy changes that echo one’s recent arguments. Along those lines, Thursday was a great day for advocates of more and higher-quality child care in the United States. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a new Obama administration proposal to raise the federal baseline for subsidized child care centers across the country. 

The Nightmare of Daycare

May 16, 2013
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Editor's note: This piece originally appeared on New America's In The Tank blog.

The average childcare worker in the U.S. earns less than a janitor. Sure, some daycare centers pay well, but the average parent can’t afford those high-end centers that can cost as much as public university tuition.

Piling on to that: The daycare industry is largely unregulated with low standards on quality of care. At an event this week based off of a recent New Republic article, The Hell of American Daycare, panelists showed how that painful reality -- a broken system full of tales of toddler deaths and injuries – can also have dire consequences for our economy.

Event Summary: The Hell of American Day Care

May 14, 2013
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The Asset Building Program and New America’s Early Education Initiative co-hosted an event yesterday on “The Hell of American Daycare,” so titled after a recent piece by Jonathan Cohn for The New Republic. Cohn and a panel of experts explored this controversial issue at the intersection between early education and the American workforce. Asset Building Program director Reid Cramer introduced the subject of child care as an “issue at the heart of the social contract.” The event made clear that today’s workforce cannot succeed without adequate, affordable child care to which it can entrust its children; that those children cannot succeed without safe, stimulating experiences in their earliest years; and that tomorrow’s workforce will not thrive without the formative educational experiences only pre-kindergarten learning can provide.

Upcoming Event: "The Hell of American Day Care"

May 9, 2013
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The Asset Building Program is hosting an event Monday to feature Jonathan Cohn’s recent article for The New Republic "The Hell of American Day Care." A great panel will help us piece together the complicated picture of day care systems (or lack thereof) in America and offer ideas that address the issue from multiple angles. RSVP to come Monday at 12:15pm or tune in online to watch live.

The Next Social Contract: An American Agenda for Reform

  • By
  • Michael Lind,
  • New America Foundation
June 10, 2013

The American social contract is in crisis. Even before the Great Recession exposed its inadequacy, it was clear that the existing American social contract — the system of policies and institutions designed to provide adequate incomes and economic security for all Americans — needed to be reformed to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. What is needed is not mere incremental tinkering, but rather rethinking and reconstruction. Policies that have worked should be expanded, while others that have failed should be replaced.

Questions Swirling Around Obama’s Second-Term Steps on Early Learning

January 22, 2013
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As President Obama gave his second inaugural address yesterday, many of us couldn’t help but linger over these words:  “We are true to our creed,” Obama said, “when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.” 

Early Ed’s 10 Hot Spots to Watch in 2013

January 4, 2013
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Each January, Early Ed Watch predicts where we will see the most action, innovation and consternation in the year ahead. Here are the hot spots we see for 2013. Notable is the absence of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act, otherwise known as No Child Left Behind. Prognosticators don’t give the bill much chance of making progress this year, given stalemates between the two houses of Congress.

The Child Care Development Block Grant, on the other hand, could see some action on Capitol Hill.  Debates on how to evaluate teachers will likely continue to dominate, as they did in 2011 and 2012. And at least one topic has popped up consistently since 2010 when we started this exercise: Head Start reform via the new "re-competition” process.

Guest Post: America’s Report Card Gives U.S. Poor Grades on Children’s Issues

November 7, 2012

Editor's note: This post originally appeared on New America's Education Policy program blog, Early Ed Watch.

A new report from two child advocacy groups, First Focus and Save the Children, gave the United States a grade of C- on children’s issues for last year. The report, America’s Report Card 2012, considered White House, federal agency, state and community efforts on family economic security; early childhood and K-12 education; permanency and stability in welfare programs and for immigrant families; and children’s health and safety. The groups examined federal, state and local efforts in each of these areas, and gave scores according to qualitative analyses.

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