August 20, 2012
Early Childhood Obesity Awareness
Obesity has become a national issue over the past few decades. While we often think about it being a problem among adults and older children, it has increasingly become a concern for infants and toddlers. According to the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, more than half of obese children become overweight by the age of two, and approximately one in five children are overweight or obese by age six. In response, a number of resources have been produced that present ways that parents, early childhood programs, and policymakers can work to prevent obesity during the early years, such as:
Next month marks the third annual National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. In recognition of this month, the ZERO TO THREE Policy Network encourages early childhood professionals like you to take action against early childhood obesity in your community. Your September advocacy activity is to raise awareness about early childhood obesity by hosting a Let’s Move! event for the young children and families in your community. Download the September Advocacy Developmental Milestone calendar now for more information!
Federal Policy Update
Advocate for Babies While Congress is at Home
Many Members of Congress are at home during the August District work period and will be accessible to constituents. This is a good time for infant-toddler advocates to highlight the needs of young children and how federal investments in programs that support their health, strengthen families, provide safe and healthy environments, and ensure positive early learning experiences will pay off in the long run. Momentous decisions about the federal budget, including automatic spending cuts and expiration of tax cuts, will have to be made in the coming months. The impact of these decisions on young children most likely will not be at the forefront of the discussion, yet their outcome in many ways will shape these workers of the future and therefore our country’s ability to compete in a global economy. It is up to advocates to draw these connections for our policymakers and point out the need to sustain domestic programs. The Baby Policy Blog will explore these topics in greater depth in the coming weeks, so check for updates.
A case in point: one of the decisions awaiting resolution is funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) contained in the Farm Bill. In July, the House Agriculture Committee approved $16.5 billion in proposed cuts to SNAP. An estimated 3 million people, including children, would lose benefits if these cuts were to take effect. The Senate earlier approved a $4.5 billion cut. Children’s HealthWatch has dubbed the program “the SNAP vaccine,” because of the strong evidence that it protects young children against the developmental ills of malnutrition. We wouldn’t think of taking away vaccines against measles and mumps—why would we consider taking away a fundamental building block for healthy growth and development? Read more in the Baby Policy Blog.
State Policy Update
Tennessee Provides Books to Children Beginning at Birth
A partnership between the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is improving Tennessee children’s school readiness by providing high-quality, age-appropriate books to children birth to five. All of Tennessee’s 407,000 children under age five are eligible to participate in the program, which mails children a new book every month at no cost to families. The program is jointly funded through a state budgetary allocation and county-based sponsoring organizations. Currently 51% of children under age five throughout the state’s 95 counties are enrolled. A recent evaluation of Books from Birth in Shelby County, which includes Memphis, found that children who participated in the program had stronger early childhood reading habits and higher reading readiness scores at kindergarten entry than children who did not participate. It also showed that participation increased both the amount of time parents spent reading with their children and the level of children’s interest in books. Read the full state policy update now.
Publications & Resources
Results from State Medicaid Learning Project
Addressing Women's Health Needs and Improving Birth Outcomes: Results from a Peer-to-Peer State Medicaid Learning Project, a new issue brief from the Commonwealth Fund, reports outcomes from a peer-to-peer learning project in which seven Medicaid agencies worked to develop the programs, policies, and infrastructures needed to identify and reduce women’s health risks prior to or between pregnancies. Many of the identified programs and policies may help states use the upcoming expansion of the Medicaid program to improve women’s health and reduce adverse birth outcomes.
Guide to Alternative Funding for Child Care and Early Education
The Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP) released Putting it Together: A Guide to Funding Comprehensive Services in Child Care and Early Education, a guide aimed at helping states look beyond major sources of child care and early education funding and consider alternative federal financing sources to bring comprehensive services into early childhood settings. The guide includes funding examples from state and local communities and technical details on the allowable uses of funding streams to support comprehensive services.
Building a Post-Care Service System in Child Welfare
Child Trends and the National Implementation Research Network produced a series of briefs on implementation lessons learned from an initiative in North Carolina to study whether post-care supportive services improve the long-term well-being of children exiting foster care. The series includes:
Early Childhood Education Resources
The Harvard Family Research Project launched a portion of their website dedicated to parent, family, and community engagement in early childhood education. Resources are organized by: areas of practice, program foundations, and building capacity of quality programs. Click here to view the website now.