COMMUNITY POLICY UPDATE: TRENTON, NEW JERSEY COMES TOGETHER TO IMPROVE CHILD HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT
The Children’s Futures initiative in Trenton, New Jersey has galvanized the community to work together to improve child health and development outcomes for families and their children ages zero to three. With major funding provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Children’s Futures has built a broad-based partnership among organizations, public agencies, and private providers who work together to strengthen parenting, improve child care and primary care systems, and integrate community supports in Trenton. Read the full article!
IN OUR OWN BACKYARDS: LOCAL INITIATIVES THAT CHANGE YOUNG CHILDREN’S LIVES
The foundation laid in the first five years of life can be sturdy or fragile and can be influenced by many factors. Unfortunately, in too many communities, children cannot rely on a coherent system of supports to aid their development. Child care, health care, and other family supports and services are rarely coordinated and are too frequently divided by where families live, how rich or poor they are, and who they know.
Building comprehensive systems for young children requires new ways of doing business at both the state and local levels. Local communities in particular play an important role in building and managing an early childhood system, serving as laboratories for what can and does work. Community-based initiatives also present opportunities to extend beyond traditional public services to include voluntary support systems for families.
To build knowledge around models of community collaborations that improve services for young children, ZERO TO THREE and Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s Invest in Children are co-hosting a national policy summit on early childhood system building in communities entitled, “In Our Own Backyards: Local Initiatives that Change Young Children’s Lives.” The summit will examine how communities are supporting early childhood development by building coordinated systems of services for young children (prenatal through age five) and their families. It will be held on June 6 8, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio. Click here
to learn more about the summit and read tips on how to Be a Voice for Babies and play an active role in your community's system building.
Federal Legislative Update
House Head Start Bill Introduced: On March 9, Rep. Dale Kildee (D-5th MI) introduced the “Improving Head Start Act of 2007” (H.R. 1429), along with 16 original cosponsors. The bill, which was voted out of the Education and Labor Committee last week, is expected to reach the House floor shortly, perhaps as early as the end of March or just after the spring recess in early April. Like the companion Senate bill (S. 556), the House legislation would double the Early Head Start set-aside from 10% to 20% of total program funding over the life of the reauthorization bill, allowing more infants and toddlers to be served if new funding is appropriated. In addition, the House bill allows Head Start programs to convert funded preschool slots to serve infants and toddlers where community needs suggest such a change, and the programs meet all Early Head Start performance standards, further expanding services to low-income infants and toddlers. Finally, the bill would give Early Head Start programs priority for receiving funds recaptured from underenrolled Head Start programs. During the mark-up, the Education and Labor Committee passed an amendment to increase the income eligibility threshold from 100% of the federal poverty level to 130%. This provision is of concern to ZERO TO THREE because raising the income eligibility standards would expand access to services for older children at the expense of poorer babies and toddlers who are already severely underserved in the program. ZERO TO THREE will continue to closely monitor the legislation and offer report language and comments throughout the process. For the complete text of both House and Senate bills, please visit http://www.thomas.gov/ Click here to read the full federal update!
UPDATE: Safe Babies Act Voted Out of CommitteeOn Thursday, March 15th, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted by unanimous consent to report the Safe Babies Act of 2007 (S. 627) out of committee, making its way next to the Senate floor for action. The legislation would create community Court Teams, led by juvenile court judges and child development specialists, to address the needs of infants and toddlers in foster care in order to ensure their wellbeing and promote timely permanency decisions. The Court Teams would monitor cases, incorporate child-focused services in case plans, and coordinate community resources. A National Court Teams Resource Center would also administer and provide technical assistance to the projects and provide materials on incorporating the science of early childhood development into the judicial practices of judges and others involved in child welfare cases around the country. The House companion bill (H.R. 1082) is expected to receive committee action soon.
ZERO TO THREE News
Register for the 11th Annual Birth to Three Institute (June 25-28, 2007)
This training event, sponsored by the Office of Head Start, is a wonderful opportunity to learn about exemplary work in the infant and family field and addresses the diverse needs and interests of early care and education professionals working in Early Head Start, Migrant and Seasonal Head Start, and child care programs. For more information and to register, please visit http://www.ehsnrc.org/.
Dr. Ross Thompson Testifies on Early Head Start
Dr. Ross Thompson, ZERO TO THREE Board Member, recently testified before the House Committee on Education & Labor, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education as part of the “Improving Head Start for America’s Children” hearing on February 28, 2007. Click here to read Dr. Thompson’s testimony.
Publications & Resources
NACCRRA Releases State Rankings on Child Care Center Standards and Oversight
The National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) has released new state rankings on child care standards and oversight. The report, which looked at all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense, found that “the DoD child care system stands alone as a model for the states” and is the only system to be ranked in the top ten for both standards and oversight. To view the report, as well as state-by-state profiles, visit http://www.naccrra.org/policy/scorecard.php.
New Report on Child Care Quality and Language Development
Researchers at the University of North Carolina’s Frank Porter Graham Institute have found that not only did children in higher quality child care outperform those in lower quality care on the development of specific language components, but the quality of the child care actually made a greater difference over time. This finding was particularly evident in vocabulary development. The study will be published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, and a summary is available online.
NWLC Releases Report on the Unionization of Child Care Providers
The National Women’s Law Center has released a new report, Getting Organized: Unionizing Home-Based Child Care Providers, which looks at the rapidly growing unionization of home-based child care providers, including regulated providers as well as family, friend and neighbor care providers. The report follows the statewide campaigns to permit these providers to unionize and analyzes the impact this trend could have on improvement of the child care system.