Head Start hit hardest by federal shutdown, but other education programs face problems in long term

For the short term, most schools will likely be unaffected by the federal government shutdown that went into effect today. But if the impasse in Congress lasts a long time, schools may feel the financial squeeze.

The shutdown is a result of the House and Senate’s failure to agree on a funding bill, which forced more than 800,000 federal employees into furlough Tuesday morning.

If it lasts beyond one week, the government interruption is expected to delay funding to school districts, colleges and universities that rely on federal funds, according to a U.S. Department of Education contingency plan. With more than 90 percent of its employees expected to be furloughed, officials at the Department of Education will be unavailable to assist school districts or answer questions as they attempt to implement reforms, The Washington Post reports.

The biggest immediate impact could be felt in Head Start programs, though, which are still reeling from federal sequestration cuts that pushed 57,000 children out of the preschool program for low-income children. According to the National Head Start Association (NHSA), an advocacy group, 23 programs in 11 states with grant cycles that begin Oct. 1 are poised to lose grant money due to the shutdown.

Source: The Hechinger Report

Available at: http://hechingered.org/content/head-start-hit-hardest-by-federal-shutdown-but-other-education-programs-face-problems-in-long-term_6399/

Clock Ticking for Many Women, Infants, and Children


If the federal government is shut down much longer, a program providing vital nutrition assistance to nearly 9 million infants, young children, and mothers could come to a standstill for lack of funds.

Even with the partial government shutdown, many important government programs are able to keep running. This is either through the vagaries of the budget process or by the dedication of essential workers who will temporarily work without pay. However, other programs that have been deemed “non-essential” to health and safety, and, lacking funds, will stop providing benefits and services either immediately or within the next month. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, is one such program.

In 2011, WIC served nearly nine million pregnant women, new mothers, and children under five each month, and a total of 14 million over the entire year. WIC is not an entitlement program. A certain level of funding is determined by Congress, and that money is used to serve as many eligible applicants as possible, prioritizing those most at risk. In recent years, the program has been able to serve all eligible applicants, but no money has yet been allocated for the current fiscal year. Although it is federally funded, and is monitored by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the program is administered by states and other sub-national governments (such as American Indian tribes).i According to the Washington Post, these state and local administrators have the funds to continue the program for a month, at most, without additional federal funds, and some don’t have enough for even a week. More-recent reports, though, indicate that all states should have sufficient funding to continue the WIC program to the end of October.

Source: Child Trends

Available at: http://www.childtrends.org/clock-ticking-for-many-women-infants-and-children/#more-11675

Head Start to Harvard: A New America Story


As federal agencies prepare for a possible government shutdown at midnight tonight, it’s unclear if members of Congress have given much thought to the implications of pulling the plug on virtually all federal programs. In fact, over the past several years and in the midst of continual budget debates – over spending and deficits and debts and across-the-board cuts – this isn’t the first time lawmakers have lost sight of the people behind the programs they fund.

Last week, the New America Foundation’s Media Relations Associate, Jenny Lu Mallamo, brought the debate back down to earth with a reminiscence of her time in a Lincoln, Nebraska Head Start program more than 20 years ago. Her parents, Chinese immigrants who didn’t speak English as their primary language, relied on the in-school and at-home services that Head Start provided the family to help Jenny catch up to her preschool-aged peers.

Source: New America Foundation

Available at: http://earlyed.newamerica.net/blogposts/2013/head_start_to_harvard_a_new_america_story-93404

The early childhood care and education workforce in the United States: Understanding changes from 1990 through 2010


Despite heightened policy interest in improving the quality of the early childhood care and education (ECCE) workforce, very little is known about the characteristics of this workforce or the extent to which these characteristics have changed over time. Using nationally-representative data, this paper fills this gap by documenting changes between 1990-2010 in the educational attainment, compensation and turnover of the ECCE workforce overall and within each of the three sectors that compose it: centers, homes and schools. We find that average educational attainment and compensation of ECCE workers, as well as the prestige of those entering the workforce, increased substantially over the period studied, and that turnover decreased. We also document a major shift in the composition of the ECCE workforce towards center-based settings and away from home-based settings. Although this shift towards more regulated settings provides one plausible explanation for the overall improvements, we actually find that the improvements in the characteristics of the ECCE workforce were primarily driven by changes within each of the sectors rather than by the shift away from home-based settings towards centers. Further, we show that the home-based workforce exhibited the most profound changes over the period examined.

Source: Center for Education Policy Analysis

Available at: http://cepa.stanford.edu/content/early-childhood-care-and-education-workforce-united-states-understanding-changes-1990

State Updates: Early Care and Education

June 2013

As most states gradually begin to recover economically after several years in which their budgets were under tremendous strain, a number of the states are taking this opportunity to make or consider new investments in early care and education. These states recognize that early care and education will advance their short- and long- term economic prosperity by enabling parents to work and giving children the strong start they need to succeed in school and ultimately contribute to the workforce. Unfortunately, a few states have looked to cut child care and early education. Cutting these services reduces families’ access to the stable, high-quality child care that encourages children’s learning and development. Additionally, these cuts prevent child care programs from filling their classrooms, forcing them to lay off staff or close their doors entirely.

Source: National Women’s Law Center

Available at: http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/stateupdatesjune2013.pdf

Sequestration Pushes Head Start Families To The Precipice (UPDATE)


Rhonda Reynolds was paying bills in downtown Pratt, Kan., on a hot and sunny mid-June afternoon when the second call came from her daughter’s Head Start teachers.

Reynolds, 48 years old with shoulder-length blonde hair and a reassuring smile, jumped into her Ford Taurus and drove several miles home. It was 2:30 p.m. Just one hour earlier, those teachers, April and Misty, had told her they wanted to chat. Now they had called back, asking to meet in person and soon.

Reynolds pulled up to her one-story home. Minutes later, April and Misty arrived. They declined a drink of water. April went to use the bathroom while Misty took a seat on one of the two living room couches. Reynolds nervously sat on the other.

“What’s going on?” she asked. “Is it bad?”

“They did away with the Head Start program,” Misty replied, her head bent low.

April came out of the bathroom and sat next to Misty. For the next 20 minutes, the three of them cried.

In all, 14 children in Pratt, a town with a population just under 7,000, were dropped from Head Start, the federally funded education program for lower-income families. Reynolds’ 4-year-old daughter, Bella, who had learned numbers and words, manners and social skills during her time in the program this past year, was among them — another casualty of the budget cuts brought about by sequestration.

Source: The Huffington Post

Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/09/sequestration-head-start_n_3562607.html

Investing in our Future: The Impact of Federal Budget Decisions on Children – Hearing Schedule – Hearings – U.S. Senate Budget Committee

Jun 26 2013
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Investing in our Future: The Impact of Federal Budget Decisions on Children


Bruce Lesley
First Focus

Margaret Nimmo Crowe
Interim Executive Director
Voices for Virginia’s Children

Shavon Collier and Sakhia Whitehead
Parent and Student, age 10
Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center, Inc.

David Muhlhausen, PhD
Research Fellow in Empirical Policy Analysis
The Heritage Foundation

Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, PhD
Director, Brown Center on Education Policy
The Brookings Institution

Archived Webcast

Source: U.S. Senate, Committee on the Budget

Available at: http://www.budget.senate.gov/republican/public/index.cfm/2013/6/investing-in-our-future-the-impact-of-federal-budget-decisions-on-children

Building Early Literacy Through Libraries and Museums


Public libraries may seem like an easy place to trim some fat off local budgets. Indeed, according to the American Library Association, 40 percent of states cut library funding in 2011. But that approach may be undermining parallel efforts to boost investment in early childhood education.

A new report, Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners*, highlights 10 ways that public museums and libraries work to support early learning, providing a bridge between informal and formal learning environments. Some of these supports include addressing the “summer slide” (learning lost over school vacations) and linking new digital technologies to learning.

The report, released by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in partnership with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, also spotlights innovative early learning programs offered by a number of libraries and museums throughout the country, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Anchorage Public Library in Alaska. At an event introducing the report on June 20 at the Anacostia Public Library in Washington, DC, IMLS Director Susan Hildreth said, “Now is the time for policy makers and practitioners to fully use the capacity of libraries and museums in their early learning efforts.”

Source: The New America Foundation

Available at: http://earlyed.newamerica.net/blogposts/2013/building_early_literacy_through_libraries_and_museums-86696

State Pre-K Funding: 2012-13 School Year


Policymakers around the country showed their support for pre-kindergarten programs in their 2012-13 state budgets. An analysis conducted by the Education Commission of the States (ECS) found that the majority of state policymakers around the country have spared pre-K funding from the chopping block, and in about half of the states, increased funding—many substantially.

This is impressive when one considers that at least 26 states cut K-12 spending on a per-student basis in the 2012-13 school year.1 In contrast, ECS found that funding for pre-K programs serving 4-year-olds increased by $181 million (3.6%) to a total of $5.3 billion in 2012-13. More than half of this increase— $104 million—comes from California. Not every state experienced positive funding growth. Of the 40 states that provide funding for pre-K, 23 states plus the District of Columbia increased their funding levels and eight kept levels the same, while eight states made cuts.

Despite an improving economy in the 2012-13 fiscal year, state budgets grew only 2.2% on average— about half the rate of typical budget growth. This means that state policymakers continue to be faced with tough decisions about where to spend their limited revenues. Even in this climate, with ever- increasing awareness of the impact quality early learning has on 3rd-grade reading proficiency, more states are preserving or even boosting their funding for pre-K. This is particularly noteworthy as many states have reduced their overall education budgets, have increasing costs in Medicaid and public pensions, and are dealing with limited growth in their budgets.

Source: Education Commission of the States

Available at: http://ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/06/90/10690.pdf

Nurturing Change: State Strategies for Improving Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (I-ECMH) remains a critical but often overlooked policy challenge. Compared to other issues affecting infant-toddler well-being, I-ECMH stands out in many states as lacking a comprehensive approach to prevention, let alone a system to ensure access to treatment after diagnosis. At its core, I-ECMH suffers from a fundamental lack of understanding by policymakers best positioned to nurture change.

In 2011, the ZERO TO THREE Policy Center identified and interviewed key informants at the state and national levels to learn about barriers, successful strategies, and possible recommendations for federal policy action in the field of I-ECMH. Telephone interviews were conducted with 23 leaders in 10 states: California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin.


Available at: http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/pdf/nurturing-change.pdf