Little Kids, Big Questions is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.
To help educate policymakers and advocates about what it’s like to start life without a home, ZERO TO THREE has produced a short video with highlights from a recent Congressional briefing on supporting homeless infants and toddlers. Starting Life Without a Home calls attention to the negative effects of family homelessness upon the developmental needs of young children and presents examples of successful intervention programs. Click here to watch the video now.
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Curious about what’s happening right now on Capitol Hill related to infant and toddler policy? Then check out ZERO TO THREE’s Federal Policy Baby Blog! Our blog is devoted to providing you with up-to-date information about federal policy developments that impact the lives of babies, toddlers, families, and early childhood professionals. Recent blog entries have recounted Supreme Court arguments about the Affordable Care Act, while past entries have touched upon topics such as the impact of homelessness and immigration laws upon young children and their families. Subscribe now to receive notification when new blog entries are posted.
Federal Policy Update
Last week, two years after the law’s passage, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of four elements of the Affordable Care Act. Throughout the week, the Federal Policy Baby Blog covered the story while exploring the law’s impact on infants, toddlers, and families. Now Americans will have to wait three months for the Justices’ verdicts, expected by the end of June.
Last week also brought the introduction of a new piece of legislation, the Rebuild America Act. Introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, this far-reaching bill aims to create jobs and rebuild America's middle class through investments in areas like education, workforce training, and infrastructure. Most significant for infant and toddler advocates, the bill would create a new commitment to quality child care, with substantial funds to help states improve the quality of child care, including initiatives to ensure the safety of child care facilities and enhance the knowledge and skills of the child care workforce. A significant portion of these funds would be directed at infants and toddlers, emphasizing the earliest years as an important time for public investment. Click here to read more.
State Policy Update
Alaska Promotes Early Learning with Babies on Track
Parents of children under age two in Alaska obtained vital information about how they can support their children’s healthy development and early learning at Babies on Track premiere events that took place across the state in February and March. Babies on Track is a 14-minute DVD that depicts Alaskan families interacting with babies in ways that help them learn language, sounds, and social skills. The video introduces a simple model (TRACKS) to guide interactions with young children: Talk; Respond; Ask questions; Connect; Keep at it; and Sing and tell stories. There were 160 DVD premieres held in 80 communities across Alaska. Parents who attended received a copy of the DVD and two companion board books depicting scenes from Alaska to help them start implementing the TRACKS model. They were also invited to thank state policymakers and encourage their continued support for early learning by writing a postcard to members of the state legislature and/or the governor. The Babies on Track DVD was produced by Best Beginnings, a public-private partnership focused on early childhood. Read the full state policy update now.
Publications & Resources
Analysis of Public Spending on Children Public spending on young children may be in danger as Congress debates federal spending cuts and states search for ways to trim their budgets. To help policymakers and the public understand how public resources are currently being spent—and who will be affected by potential budget cuts—the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institute released "How Targeted Are Federal Expenditures on Children? A Kids' Share Analysis of Expenditures by Income in 2009." This report provides an analysis of how federal and state governments allocate public funds to children based on their families' incomes. This resource is part of the Kids’ Share series, which tracks how children fare in the allocation of public resources.
Coalition Urges Congress to Protect Vulnerable Families during Budget Cuts The Coalition on Human Needs released a new report that examines the impact that automatic spending cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will have on programs that serve vulnerable children and families. The report finds that the cuts– which go into effect in January 2013 unless Congress chooses another path– will negatively impact many human needs programs, including Head Start and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. The Coalition recommends that Congress protect the needs of low-income Americans and find alternative means to reduce the federal budget deficit.
Report Finds Need for Improved Family Child Care Oversight In their report “Leaving Children to Chance: NACCRRA’s Ranking of State Standards and Oversight of Small Family Child Care Homes: 2012 Update,” the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) reviewed small family child care home program requirements and oversight. After assessing and scoring the policies of 50 states and the District of Columbia, NACCRRA found that only four states scored a grade of C or higher; no states scored an A. The report concludes with recommendations for Congress and state policymakers to improve the quality of small family child care.
Webinar on New Funding Source for Early Learning Register to attend a webinar to learn more about social impact bonds, a new potential way of financing early learning programs. This webinar, hosted by ReadyNation, presents an example of how Pre-Kindergarten/Special Education (PKSE) social impact bonds might be used to pay for early childhood education. The example PKSE bond program is based on the 2009 Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts study, using data from the Bethlehem Area School District. This webinar will take place on April 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm EST.
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