High-quality Community Early Care and Education Programs occupy a unique niche within the early childhood program landscape by playing a critical role in supporting the workforce of today and tomorrow. Unlike most other service providers and program types, high-quality Community Early Care and Education Programs offer developmentally appropriate early learning opportunities for young children while providing safe, reliable care that empowers parents to be economically productive within the workforce. Affordable access to high-quality Community Early Care and Education Programs remains at the core of successful early childhood state systems that involve a range of programs, including Early Head Start and Head Start, state prekindergarten, and home visiting that operate within various settings, such as community programs and schools.
The past decade has seen a growing awareness of the risks that infectious diseases pose to young children participating in early care and learning programs. In response, policy makers in states across the country have strengthened immunization requirements for children entering programs. While parental choice remains a controversial factor in vaccination policies, more states are moving to end early childhood vaccination exemption options.However, even as immunization and vaccination policies for young children are strengthening, there has been less policy urgency to tighten vaccination requirements for the staff of early care and education programs. Yet, particularly for those staff members who care for infants, this remains a critical protection against the spread of infectious diseases among young children.
The Early Care and Education Consortium and Exchange partnered to examine the implementation and early impacts of the recently reauthorized 2014 Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) law. The ECEC/Exchange CCDBG Implementation Project was designed to gather feedback directly from Provider voices on initial impact and lessons learned, and to inform the CCDBG implementation process moving forward.
ECEC Exemplary Pre-K Public Private Partnership Profiles Project
ECEC worked within its membership to highlight examples of effective, innovative public-private community Pre-K partnerships in localities and states around the country. These exemplary high-quality community providers may be taking part in state Pre-K Development and Expansion initiatives or simply playing a key role in state-led local expansion efforts, such as New York City. ECEC will develop short profiles or “case studies” of each program example for publication on ECEC’s website, as well as periodically in the Office of Early Learning’s monthly newsletter. The profiled sites will also serve as a compendium of program sites available to leaders, including Secretary Duncan, to visit as examples of high-quality Pre-K community providers.
The first case study highlights FirstStepNYC, the only community, center prekindergarten program participating in New York City’s Pre-K for All initiative that is co-located with its neighborhood school. It also houses the Early Education Leadership Institute operated in partnership with the City University of New York’s Early Childhood Professional Development Institute and Bank Street College of Education.
The second case study examines an inclusion model partnership between North St Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale School District (District 622) in Minneapolis, MN and the New Horizon Academy’s Maplewood Center. We are especially excited to see our second pre-k profile coincide with the release of the joint ED- HHS Policy Statement on Inclusion in Early Childhood Programs. Many of the recommended best practices noted in the Policy Statement are demonstrated by this partnership.
The third case study presents a funding collaboration and coordination system between the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, Pottstown Early Action for Kindergarten Readiness (PEAK), and Montgomery Early Learning Centers (MELC) Pottstown Center. Each organization has a distinct and critical role in assuring 60 children receive a high-quality early learning experience in the Pottstown community in eastern Pennsylvania.
ECEC Featured in Fortune Magazine
ECEC was prominently featured in Fortune Magazine’s March 30, 2015 article, Child Care Workers Join Fast-Food Workers’ Fight for $15 an Hour. Executive Director, M.-A. Lucas and Rachel Demma, Policy Director provide critical perspective on the need for cushioning families from the burden of taking on increased program costs a wage increase would entail. Their comments also underscore that staffing costs for all programs – regardless of tax status – are the highest budget expense. Several strategies for offsetting increased program costs are also noted, including the President’s proposed expansion to the Child and Dependent Tax Credit and the Military Child Care Program’s success in scaling staff compensation.
Summer Learning Loss June 2014
For young children, summer is a time to continue taking part in developmentally appropriate activities— including play—that strengthen early literacy and mathematics skills, and build social and emotional competencies. These activities contribute to the development of cognitive, behavioral and executive function skill sets that increase the likelihood of positive long-term outcomes in school and life. And, for school-age children, sustaining summer learning is critically important. Research increasingly points to summer learning loss as a primary contributor to the academic achievement gap. Summer learning loss, also known as the “summer slide,” refers to the tendency among low-income children to fall behind in their skill levels and retention of material during the summer months, resulting in lower achievement outcomes overall and requiring ongoing remedial attention.
Reading Aloud to Infants and Toddlers August 2014
Today, it is widely acknowledged that reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade is the strongest predictor of high school graduation and later economic well-being in adulthood. Yet, two-thirds of children across the country every year fail to reach this benchmark. The origins of this national crisis are linked to the equally troubling trend that one in three children reach Kindergarten without the language skills in place that will enable them to become strong readers.
ECEC’s New York Times Editorial
On August 28, 2014, the New York Times printed ECEC’s editorial response to their August 14th article on the impact of irregular schedules on low-wage workers. The article focused on the challenges faced by working families in accessing continuous, high-quality child care in community settings.