It's That Time of Year: Give Thanks!
In the spirit of the season, let's take a moment to give thanks. Despite these challenging times, many people and agencies continue to work tirelessly on behalf of infants, toddlers and families. Whether it's by bringing coffee and donuts to a local Head Start center or writing a thank you note to a policymaker that sponsored legislation benefiting infants and toddlers, a small gesture can go a long way in ensuring that these champions know their efforts are appreciated. Your challenge this month is to say THANK YOU every Monday to someone making a difference in the lives of infants and toddlers in your community! Check out November's Developmental Milestone Advocacy Calendar for tips and tools.
ZERO TO THREE Releases Application for State Policy Action Team Meeting
The ZERO TO THREE Policy Center, supported by the Birth to Five Policy Alliance, is soliciting applications for participation in a state policy action team meeting designed to support states and territories with the intentional integration of quality home visiting services in their early childhood systems. Five states/territories will be selected to send teams of 4-5 people to attend the meeting, which will be held in April or May 2012. Interested states and territories must submit a single application by November 22, 2011. For more information about the meeting and the application process download the Request for Applications here.
Federal Policy Update
The Super Committee (a.k.a., the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction) is getting down to specific proposals for reducing the deficit. These 12 Senators and Representatives are going to make recommendations that could affect the futures of many infants and toddlers. It stands to reason that they should understand the vulnerability of babies in their states and how programs they may be eyeing for cuts help support the healthy development of the youngest children. In short, they should have all the "Baby Facts." A few weeks ago, ZERO TO THREE published on-line fact sheets about babies in the eleven states represented on the Super Committee. Infant-toddler advocates in these states can help make sure the Committee has all the facts by downloading and forwarding the state fact sheet to their Members. Click here to find Members' e-mail addresses.
In looking at the fact sheets, some numbers stand out: in five of the eleven states, half or more of all children under three live in low-income families. The percentage of infants and toddlers in outright poverty in six states exceeds the national average of 26%. Children in one state have a better chance of getting access to health care than in the others: only 1% of young children in Massachusetts lack health insurance, thanks to their health insurance program. The majority of infants in all states have moms in the labor force, but not so many have access to child care assistance. And only 3% of poor infants and toddlers are able to participate in Early Head Start. Read more in our Baby Policy Blog.
State Policy Update
Vermont Integrates Services For Young Children and Their Families
Recognizing that programs serving young children and their families are most effective when they are integrated, Vermont has taken several steps to build a coordinated system of child development and family support services. Children's Integrated Services (CIS) co-locates Part C early intervention, early childhood and family mental health, nursing and family support, and specialized child care services in the Department for Children and Families. Each of Vermont's 12 regions has a CIS coordinator who oversees multi-disciplinary teams responsible for CIS intake and review, and policy and administration. Common referral and intake forms are used across the state, as is a recently developed planning and case management document that is a tool for developing a single integrated child/family plan. Three regions recently took an additional step toward integration by piloting a single fiscal agent structure, which allocates all CIS funding for the region to one organization that is responsible for ensuring the full range of CIS services are provided in a coordinated manner. Efforts are also underway to develop a central data management system to support service providers and state-level CIS staff document outcomes, and make informed decisions about policy and practice.
Read the full state policy update now!
Publications & Resources
New Report on State Child Care Assistance Policies
The National Women's Law Center issued a new state-by-state report, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2011: Reduced Support For Families in Challenging Times, which shows that families are worse off under current child care assistance policies than they were not only in 2010, but also a decade ago. The authors find that many families are unable to receive adequate child care assistance and suggest that the situation is likely to worsen in coming years, making it more difficult for parents to work and less likely that vulnerable children will receive the care they need for optimal growth and learning.
Tip Sheet on Partnerships between Child Welfare and Early Childhood
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families released a new tip sheet that describes federal policies, programs, opportunities and resources that can strengthen collaboration between child welfare and early childhood programs, as leveraging federal resources is a great way for states to ensure that children and families are provided with the comprehensive services they need.
New Brief Focuses on Early Childhood Data Systems
Recent initiatives out of the U.S. Department of Education are focused on integrating education data systems. To help states understand education data systems -- particularly those that include special education information - and how they can be integrated, Project Forum produced a new brief, Systems for Reviewing Educational Data, including Special Education Information: Four State Approaches, which highlights longitudinal data systems in Kentucky, Missouri, New York, and Virginia.
Department of Education Announces Applicants to RTT - Early Learning Challenge
The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced that 35 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico have submitted applications for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge. Click here for more information.