Poor kids who go to daycare may later do better in school


The more time low-income children spend in daycare, the better they’re likely to be doing in school at age 12, a Canadian study suggests.

While previous research has linked high quality daycare centers to better academic performance, the current study focussed on whether daycare might help reduce or eliminate income-based disparities in achievement through adolescence.

Researchers found that children from low-income families who spent the most time in center-based care scored 37 percent better on reading and writing tests and 46 percent better on math exams at age 12 than similar kids who logged the fewest hours in daycare centers.

“Children from disadvantaged families who remain at home have double risks – they evolve in a home environment that is less stimulating than that of non-disadvantaged children and they are not exposed to the learning experience that most children receive by going to child care,” senior author Sylvana Cote, of the University of Montreal in Canada, said by email.

Source: Reuters

Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-kids-daycare-idUSKBN0TC1XN20151123

Achieving Kindergarten Readiness for All Our Children: A Funder’s Guide to Early Childhood Development from Birth to Five


When every child has the opportunity to meet his or her full potential, we strengthen families, our communities, and the nation’s economic future. Remarkably, one in four American children come from low-income families and enter kindergarten not ready to learn and, as a result, fall behind from the very start. Our nation pays a heavy price through larger taxpayer burdens in remedial and special education, more costly health interventions, and increased criminal justice expenditures. Research shows that for a fraction of those costs, preventive investments in high-quality early childhood programs can avoid the high price of remediation and bring enormous benefits to the economy. Further, early intervention strengthens families and accelerates a child’s ability to learn, thus increasing the effectiveness of K–12 education.

America vastly underinvests in early childhood programs that work, especially in the critical period from pregnancy to age three. This guide offers numerous specific, evidence-based public investment opportunities private donors and government can pursue immediately to make an impact. We cannot afford to wait. Philanthropy, business, and government must work together to expand early childhood opportunities so that all children arrive at school ready to learn and with an equal chance to achieve success throughout their lives.

Source: The Bridgespan Group

Available at: http://www.bridgespan.org/Publications-and-Tools/Youth-Development/early-childhood-funder-guide-2015.aspx#.VkvpQdDMD2A

HHS Launches National Center for Excellence in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pleased to announce the launch of the National Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (CoE), a new $6 million investment to support children’s social emotional development and behavioral health led by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in partnership with the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Administration for Children and Families.

Infant and early childhood mental health consultation is a multi-level preventive intervention that builds the capacity of teachers, home visitors, and families to promote social-emotional development and has demonstrated impacts for improving children’s social skills and adult-child relationships; reducing challenging behaviors, expulsions and suspensions; increasing family-school collaboration; increasing classroom quality; and reducing teacher stress, burnout, and turnover.

Research has also shown that a child’s first years of life are critically important for brain development, including the acquisition of social, emotional, and cognitive skills that create a foundation for later school and life success.  That is why one of President Obama’s key priorities is ensuring that all children have access to high quality early learning opportunities and supports that promote children’s healthy development, including social-emotional and behavioral health.Although we know what a difference social-emotional and behavioral health makes in the lives of our children, too many of our nation’s teachers and early learning providers still lack the professional development and supports they need to foster readiness in children they serve.  Social and emotional health is among the most pressing training needs of early educators, and the early childhood system is often lacking in its capacity to provide the kind of support that teachers need to help them promote healthy social emotional development and address the behavioral challenges of young children.  Lack of sufficient training and support results in higher teacher turnover, and can be linked to poorer child outcomes.

Over the next four years, the Center of Excellence will build strong, sustainable mental health consultation systems across states, cities, and tribal communities across the country through the development of culturally responsive state-of-the-art tools, and through the delivery of training and technical assistance. The new Center of Excellence will provide inclusive and culturally sensitive expertise, including a focus on tribal communities. Work will be steered by a group of experts in the early childhood mental health field, including tribal experts, to ensure that the work is culturally responsive to the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native children and their families. The unique strengths and needs of tribal communities warrant an intentional focus and strong partnership with tribal nations. The Center of Excellence will include attention to racial and ethnic disparities in exclusionary discipline practices, disparities in access to behavioral health services, and will promote tools and trainings that are culturally responsive and relevant, addressing issues of implicit bias, and benefiting all children, their families, and their caregivers.

The need to better support early childhood professionals with access to training and mental health consultation is particularly acute in  in remote rural and tribal communities, where the geography, limited resources, and lack of infrastructure can be significant barriers to the attraction, retention, and ongoing professional development of teachers and home visitors. Additionally, we know that infants, toddlers, young children and their families in rural communities have mental health needs that are not currently being met because there is a lack of available, accessible, and affordable services for young children. In fact, estimates show that 1.9 million children with mental health difficulties live in areas where there are minimal to no resources available to meet their needs.

This project closely aligns with the White House Rural Council’s Rural Impact strategy to address child poverty, which is another of the ways the Obama Administration is addressing the needs of vulnerable young children and families by supporting cross-agency, nonprofit, and private sector partnerships to better serve rural and tribal kids and families.  Expanding access to high-quality early childhood programs that include a strong focus on children’s social-emotional and behavioral health, is a key piece of this strategy.  And this project also aligns with the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Initiative, and the MBK Task Force Report, which recommends building a strong foundation of social-emotional and behavioral health, fostered by warm, enriching, and secure relationships with adults like parents and early learning providers, as an integral component of entering school ready to learn.

Today’s announcement is an important step forward in boosting the quality of early childhood programs and thereby ensuring the healthy social, emotional and behavioral development of young children across the country, including in rural and tribal communities. Though families in rural and tribal communities face a unique set of challenges, they also possess a strong set of assets. The work of the Center of Excellence will build on those assets to improve school readiness, school success, and the well-being of the next generation.

Source: The White House

Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/10/09/hhs-launches-national-center-excellence-infant-and-early-childhood-mental-health

Chronic Absenteeism in Kindergarten 


At the end of every school year, after all my kindergarten students had finished their last day celebrations and hurried off to pursue their summer adventures, I would reflect on the success stories of the year. There was that one student who entered kindergarten knowing only a handful of letter names and left reading complete sentences, or another who decided that math was actually pretty fun once she realized she was able to add and subtract all on her own. And, of course, there were also a couple of students who didn’t meet the lofty ambitions I had set for them back in September. These students were unable to strengthen their early reading and math skills to the level needed to enter first grade ready for new challenges. After a couple of years teaching I started to notice a pattern among many of my low-performing students: they missed school, a lot of school. Not a few days here and there due to illness, but days or even weeks at a time when their spot on the carpet would be vacant and their friends would ask about their whereabouts.

It turns out that the attendance issues in my kindergarten classroom were not an anomaly, but the norm. At least 10 percent of kindergartners and first graders nationwide are chronically absent from school, according to a report last month by Attendance Works and Healthy Schools Campaign. The same study found that low-income kindergartners were four times more likely to be chronically absent than their more affluent peers. These chronically absent students miss at least eighteen days of school per year, translating into almost a month of missed instructional time. In California, kindergarten students are the most likely of any elementary school students to be chronically absent. Specifically, 14.2 percent of California kindergartners are chronically absent compared to just 8.8 percent of first graders. In Rhode Island, sixteen percent of kindergartners are chronically absent compared to ten percent of third graders.

This chronic absenteeism among kindergarten students has serious consequences. Students who are chronically absent in the vital early grades of pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade are much less likely to be reading at grade level by the end of third grade, according to a study conducted by the University of Chicago. A recent report from the California Attorney General found that eighty-three percent of chronically absent California kindergartners and first graders were unable to read proficiently by the end of third grade. It’s now well-understood that students who fail to read at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely than skilled readers to drop out of high school. And Rhode Island found that chronically absent kindergartners not only had lower levels of math and literacy achievement as far out as the seventh grade, but were also twice as likely to be retained.

There is good news among all these sobering statistics, however. On Wednesday, in recognition of the fact that chronic absenteeism is a major cause of low academic achievement throughout the nation, the Obama Administration announced the launch of the Every Student, Every Day initiative. According to the Department of Education, an estimated five to seven and a half million students are chronically absent each year in America’s schools. The Every Student, Every Day initiative aims to reduce chronic absenteeism by at least ten percent each school year, beginning with the current year. The initiative calls on state and local agencies and organizations to work together to identify and support chronically absent students. As part of the initiative the Administration released a community toolkit that provides information and resources to help community stakeholders work to reduce student absenteeism.

So what immediate actions can be taken to reduce chronic absenteeism? First, states have to do a better job of tracking and sharing student absence data. Information about chronic absence should be easily accessible online so that stakeholders are able to identify specific schools and student groups in need of assistance. Seven states, including California, currently do not collect attendance information in its longitudinal student database. However, Hawaii, Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are a few of the growing number of state departments of education that are calculating and sharing data regarding chronic student absence. More states should follow their lead so that the extent of the absenteeism problem in each state is better understood.

Another action that can be immediately taken to reduce absenteeism, especially in kindergarten, is to shift the focus of school districts away from punishment for excessive absences and towards an attitude of absence prevention through increased parental engagement. The recent California Attorney General study found widespread parent misperceptions about the importance of attendance in the early grades. Specifically, many parents reported feeling that early grade attendance isn’t as important as high school attendance due to the mistaken belief that students will catch up before they get to high school. Intentional efforts to discuss with parents the link between consistent attendance in kindergarten and later academic success could go a long way in clearing up such misperceptions.

Real academic gains can’t happen without consistent student attendance, no matter how skilled the teacher might be. Better attendance data at the state level combined with targeted parent outreach at the school level can go a long way towards decreasing chronic absences and ensuring that all children make significant academic gains during the school year. No student should miss out on a quality early education just because they don’t show up.

Source: EdCentral

Available at: http://www.edcentral.org/absence/

The Impact of Discrimination on the Early Schooling Experiences of Children from Immigrant Families


How the young children of immigrants experience their early school years may in large part determine their academic future and negatively affect their emotional, social, and mental development. Children benefit from a positive, supportive learning environment where their contributions are valued; many from immigrant families, however, experience discrimination in school during their early, impressionable years.

The experiences that children have in their first classrooms are foundational to how they think about themselves as learners, students, and members of the larger communities around them. Any experiences of discrimination at this vulnerable age can negatively affect personal development and academic trajectories, and limit the emotional benefits of early childhood education.

This report, part of a research series supported by the Foundation for Child Development, maps the types of personal and structural discrimination that young children of immigrants may experience at school, and the consequences of discrimination for children, their families, and schools. It begins by describing how discrimination in the early years can affect a child’s development, academic performance, and later mobility. The report then outlines types of discrimination that young children of immigrants may experience at school. The report concludes with recommendations that focus on training teachers, building relationships between schools and immigrant communities, and encouraging more varied, culturally sensitive learning experiences.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. How Discrimination in School Affects Young Children
A. The Effects of Discrimination on Children’s Development and Academic Performance
B. Discrimination and Parental Engagement in SchoolC. The Role of Local Contexts and Attitudes

III. Types of Discrimination Experienced
A. Personal Forms of Discrimination
B. Structural Forms of Discrimination

IV. Reasons for Discrimination in the Early School Years
A. Lack of Meaningful Connections with Immigrant Communities
B. Focus on Immigrant Families’ Deficits Rather than Assets
C. Inadequate Teacher Preparation and Recruitment
D. Testing Pressures in the Early Grades
E. Negative Labels and Concerns over School Readiness

V. Recommendations

Source: Migration Policy Institute

Available at: http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/impact-discrimination-early-schooling-experiences-children-immigrant-families

HHS Launches National Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation


By Shantel E. Meek, Ph.D., Senior Policy Advisor for Early Childhood Development, Administration for Children and Families

Last year, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), an initiative that brings together the public and private sectors, communities, businesses, schools, and individuals to close opportunity gaps and ensure all of our nation’s youth, including boys and young men of color, have the tools they need to realize their incredible potential. The initiative sets a vision for supporting our youth from cradle to college and career by focusing on six important milestones across the life course. The first of these milestones is ensuring that children enter school ready to learn.

The My Brother’s Keeper Task Force Report recommends building a strong foundation of social-emotional and behavioral health, fostered by warm, enriching, and secure relationships with adults like parents and early learning providers, as an integral component of entering school ready to learn. Social-emotional and behavioral health is robustly associated with school readiness and achievement and outcomes in adulthood, such as higher likelihood of high school completion, degree attainment, and lower likelihood of drug use and arrest.

At the same time, teachers and child care providers report that their most pressing training need is in fostering children’s behavioral development. In fact, only 20% of providers who serve children under age 5 reported receiving any training on facilitating children’s social-emotional growth in the past year. Lack of training and competencies in this area may contribute to higher rates of expulsion and suspensions. Data consistently show that young boys of color are disproportionately the subjects of expulsions and suspensions from early learning and school settings, which may contribute to social-emotional challenges and set them on a negative trajectory before they even step foot in the kindergarten classroom. Last year, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) released a joint policy statement on preventing expulsion and suspension in practices in early learning settings.

The concern for the mental health and behavioral wellness in young children of color has become even more alarming after the release of a recent study in The Journal for American Medical Association analyzing suicide rates in children over the past 20 years. Researchers found that, while the overall suicide rate remained stable, the rate for black children, ages 5 to 11, increased significantly.  Data over the past several years indicate that the suicide rate in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth is more than double other groups.

As a response to the pressing need for more preventive support for the early education system and the children and families it serves, this week the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in partnership with the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Administration for Children and Families, three agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, launched the new National Center of Excellence in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC). The Center of Excellence (CoE), funded at about $6 million over the next four years, is tasked with building strong, sustainable mental health consultation systems in States and tribal communities across the country through the development of state of the art tools and the delivery of training and technical assistance. IECMHC is a multi-level preventive intervention that teams mental health professionals with people who work with young children and their families. The model builds the capacity of teachers and families to promote social-emotional and behavioral development and has demonstrated impacts for improving children’s social skills and adult-child relationships; reducing challenging behaviors, expulsions and suspensions; increasing family-school collaboration; increasing classroom quality; and reducing teacher stress, burnout, and turnover.

Importantly, the work of the CoE will also have a focus on tribal communities. Work will be steered by an advisory group of experts in the early childhood mental health field and will include up to four tribal experts to ensure that the work is culturally responsive to the needs of AI/AN children and their families. The unique strengths and needs of tribal communities warrant an intentional focus and strong partnership with tribal nations. As the work of the CoE moves forward, it will include a thorough consideration of racial and ethnic disparities in exclusionary discipline and other areas, and result in a set of tools and training that are culturally responsive and relevant, address issues of implicit bias, and benefit all children, their families, and their teachers.

Today’s announcement is an important step forward in boosting the quality of early education around the country, and ensuring that States and tribes can support their youngest children, including boys of color, in achieving optimal social-emotional and behavioral health and school readiness. We hope that the launch of this new CoE will spur discussion and encourage States, tribes, communities, schools, and early childhood programs to prioritize this issue. We all share responsibility for taking care of our youngest children.

Source: Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2015/10/infant-early-childhood-mental-health-consultation

IM 15-03 Policy and Program Guidance for the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCP)



TO: Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership Grantees and Partners

SUBJECT: Policy and Program Guidance for the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCP)

INFORMATION:This Information Memorandum (IM) reinforces the purpose and vision of the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCP) and provides policy and program guidance for grantees and their partners.1 This IM specifically addresses various issues and questions raised by grantees during the EHS-CCP orientations and start-up phase of the grants.

The EHS-CCP program will enhance and support early learning settings to provide full-day/full-year, seamless, and comprehensive services that meet the needs of low-income working families and those in school; increase access to high-quality, full-day child care (including family child care); support the development of infants and toddlers through strong relationship-based experiences; and prepare them for the transition into Head Start and preschool. The EHS-CCP is a unique opportunity which brings together the best of Early Head Start and child care through layering of funding to provide comprehensive and continuous services to low-income infants, toddlers, and their families. The EHS-CCP grants will serve as a learning laboratory for the future of high-quality infant/toddler care.

All infants and toddlers attending an EHS-CCP site will benefit from facilities and homes that are licensed and meet safety requirements. All children in classrooms with EHS-CCP-enrolled children will benefit from low teacher-to-child ratios and class sizes, qualified teachers receiving ongoing supervision and coaching to support implementation of curriculum and responsive caregiving, and broad-scale parent engagement activities. While only enrolled EHS-CCP children will be eligible for direct family-specific benefits such as home visits, health tracking and follow-up, and individualized family support services, EHS-CCP programs must operationalize services to ensure there is no segregation or stigmatization of EHS-CCP children due to the additional requirements or services.

The long-term outcomes of the program are:

  1. Sustained, mutually respectful, and collaborative EHS-CCP
  2. A more highly educated and fully qualified workforce to provide high-quality infant/toddler care and education
  3. Increased community supply of high-quality early learning environments and infant/toddler care and education
  4. Well-aligned early childhood policies, regulations, resources, and quality improvement support at national, state, and local levels
  5. Improved family and child well-being and progress toward school readiness

The EHS-CCP brings together the strengths of child care and Early Head Start programs. Child care centers and family child care providers respond to the needs of working families by offering flexible and convenient full-day and full-year services. In addition, child care providers have experience providing care that is strongly grounded in the cultural, linguistic, and social needs of the families and their local communities. However, many child care centers and family child care providers lack the resources to provide the comprehensive services needed to support better outcomes for the nation’s most vulnerable children. Early Head Start is a research-based program that emphasizes the importance of responsive and caring relationships to support the optimal development of infants and toddlers. Early Head Start provides comprehensive family centered services that adhere to the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS)2 to support high-quality learning environments. Integrating Early Head Start comprehensive services and resources into the array of traditional child care and family child care settings creates new opportunities to improve outcomes for infants, toddlers, and their families.

Attachment A provides topical policy and program guidance around:

  • Seamless and Comprehensive Full-Day/Full-Year Services
  • Partnership Agreements
  • Layered Funding
  • Child Care Subsidies
  • Citizenship and Immigration Status
  • Child Care Center Ratios and Group Sizes
  • Staffing and Planning Shifts for Staff
  • Staff Qualifications and Credential Requirements
  • Federal Oversight and Monitoring

Please share this IM with your partners and direct any questions to your Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Regional Office.

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of infants and toddlers and their families.

/ Linda K. Smith /
Linda K. Smith
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development
Administration for Children and Families

/ Blanca Enriquez /
Dr. Blanca Enriquez
Office of Head Start

/ Rachel Schumacher /
Rachel Schumacher
Office of Child Care

Source: Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start, and Office of Child Care

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/standards/im/2015/resour_ime_003.html

Early School Readiness: Indicators on Children and Youth


Compared with white or black children, Hispanic children are less likely to be able to recognize the letters of the alphabet, count to 20 or higher, or write their names before they start kindergarten. Black children are similar to white children on these measures, but are more likely than white children to be reading words in books.


School readiness, a multi-dimensional concept,1 conveys important advantages. Children who enter school with early skills, such as a basic knowledge of math and reading, are more likely than their peers to experience later academic success,2,3 attain higher levels of education, and secure employment.4 Absence of these and other skills may contribute to even greater disparities down the road. For example, one study found that gaps in math, reading, and vocabulary skills evident at elementary school entry explained at least half of the racial gap in high school achievement scores.5

As conceptualized by the National Education Goals Panel, school readiness encompasses five dimensions: (1) physical well-being and motor development; (2) social and emotional development; (3) approaches to learning; (4) language development (including early literacy); and (5) cognition and general knowledge.6 The school readiness indicator reported on here includes four skills related to early literacy and cognitive development: a child’s ability to recognize letters, count to 20 or higher, write his or her first name, and read words in a book. While cognitive development and early literacy are important for children’s school readiness and early success in school, other areas of development, like health, social development, and engagement, may be of equal or greater importance.7,8,9 However, although experts agree that social-emotional skills are critically important for school readiness, to date there are no nationally representative data in this area.

Source: Child Trends

Available at: http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/07_School_Readiness.pdf

BUILDing Strong Foundations – Natural Allies: Growing Connections between Health and Education


Joan Lombardi, Ph.D.
Director, Early Opportunities LLC

Last week we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Head Start Program. Leading up to that launch in 1965, a panel of experts, chaired by Dr. Robert Cooke of Johns Hopkins University, set forth recommendations for the establishment of the program. Reading through those recommendations five decades later, the wisdom of those early pioneers continues to shine – the founders called for comprehensive services that address the health, education, and family support needs of young children in poverty.

This week we reaffirm this holistic approach to child development with the publication of the third chapter of the E-Book, Rising to the Challenge: Building Effective Systems for Young Children and Families. The chapter being shared today, Early Learning-Health Connections by Dr. Jill Sells, documents some of the recent cross-sector accomplishments in nine out of the 20 states that received Early Learning Challenge funds. As Dr. Sells points out, “The relationship between health and early learning feels like common sense.”

Over the years the vision of good health as a cornerstone to successful learning has been reinforced through numerous scientific advances and on-the-ground experiences with families. Good health was a key indicator in the readiness goal; it was the drive behind several federal efforts such as Healthy Child Care America, the Maternal and Child Health systems grants, Project Launch, as well as private initiatives, such as the BUILD Initiative, which are supported by a range of foundations. For most of these initiatives the goal was to bring the vision of coordination between health and education that was so fundamental to Head Start – into child care and other early childhood programs through health and mental health consultation, developmental screening, immunization campaigns and other efforts that emerged across the country. It was through the leadership of so many pediatricians, public health officials, and dedicated early childhood, family support and developmental disability experts and advocates that efforts such as Help Me Grow, Reach Out and Read, Healthy Steps, Let’s Move Child Care, among others, started to take hold.

When the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education came together to plan and implement the Early Learning Challenge, they built on this rich history and solid foundation. The Challenge included the clear recognition that that the domains of development are integrated, that early learning standards as well as quality standards must address these holistic needs, and that screening measures are a core component of a comprehensive assessment system.

While progress has been made, there is so much more to do. As we present this important chapter, I offer four recommendations for continued action to bring health and education together:

  1. All states should identify and address the health, behavioral, and developmental needs of children with high needs. This optional component in the Early Learning Challenge should be required in every state, with additional resources to make it a reality.
  2. Communities need to rally around a new set of goals that help assure that every child enters school happy and confident, at a healthy weight, with healthy eating habits, lots of time for physical activity, early dental care and access to consistent, quality health care. Prevention is the name of the game in 21st century health care and in education reform. It all starts with healthy adolescence, prenatal care, and breastfeeding, and it continues through ongoing linkages between health providers and schools.
  3. Health care for parents and providers is essential for the healthy development of children. The adults in children’s lives should have access to social and mental health supports and good health care themselves, particularly during those stressful early years of parenting and for those who care for infants and toddlers.
  4. A new era of innovation should be launched to develop measures and technologies to assure developmental monitoring at the population level, including for children from birth to age three. Assessing children as they enter school is a step forward, but far too late for many children whose development is at risk at a much earlier age.

Five decades after the dawn of Head Start, it is more widely recognized than ever   that health, learning, and behavior are grounded in the earliest years of life. Federal leaders have acknowledged this with the Early Learning Challenge and the Affordable Care Act, which provides new opportunities to pay for population level health and links to early learning.

Let’s renew efforts to grow connections between education and health – two of life’s natural allies – and help fulfill the promise that is born in every child.

Source: The BUILD Initiative

Available at: http://buildinitiative.org/TheIssues/BUILDingStrongFoundations/tabid/223/PostID/22/Natural-Allies-Growing-Connections-between-Health-and-Education.aspx

Presidential Proclamation — 50th Anniversary of Head Start




Supporting our children in their earliest years with high-quality care and education is one of the best investments we can make as a Nation — and for 50 years, Head Start has helped to lift up millions of America’s children and their families in communities across our country.  The oldest and largest Federal program to deliver high-quality early learning opportunities to low-income children, Head Start was founded on the idea that every child — no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they grow up — deserves the chance to reach their full potential.  Since 1965, it has given meaning to the simple truth that in America, where you start should not determine how far you can go.

In the last half-century, Head Start has served 32 million children, supporting them in every aspect of their development — from early learning and health and nutrition to social and emotional well-being.  Designed to cultivate original ideas and innovative approaches to preparing children for success later in school and in life, Head Start has pioneered new solutions to fight the harmful effects of poverty and build ladders of opportunity into the middle class.  In small towns and large cities — in America’s immigrant communities and with migrant and seasonal families, faith-based communities, and tribal leaders — Head Start programs and providers empower children and their families to foster positive parent-child relationships, to reach for economic and family stability, and to make important connections to their peers and their communities.

During a critical period in a child’s life, Head Start sets our Nation’s young people on the path to success.  We know that investments in early childhood education boost graduation rates, increase earnings, and reduce violent crime.  And 3- and 4-year-olds who attend high-quality preschool — including Head Start — are less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to need special education, and more likely to graduate from high school.  This head start in life leaves a lasting impact on our students and fuels their curiosity, helping them to grow up with a passion for learning, a fair shot at good-paying jobs, and a more secure future.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Early Head Start, created to enhance the impact of Head Start by serving children from birth to age 3, as well as expectant mothers — ensuring all children receive the best care possible. This expansion has made a real difference for thousands of infants, toddlers, and their families.  As President, I have endeavored to strengthen Head Start and build on its legacy.  My Administration has expanded the program to reach tens of thousands of additional children and families in the depth of the economic recession.  We have instituted reforms to raise the standards and focus on improving outcomes across Head Start programs and classrooms, so that children and families can rely on the highest quality of services.  And we have launched new ways to build connections between Early Head Start and America’s child care subsidy system to reach additional infants and toddlers in need of high-quality early care and education.  We will continue to invest in Head Start and strive to expand its reach to additional children and families throughout America. Our children deserve nothing less.

Despite five decades of tremendous success, too many young people still grow up without access to a world-class education.  Instead of receiving a head start in life, they start out a step behind.  As a Nation, we must continue our work to ensure the promise of education is within reach for all our daughters and sons.  That is why I have proposed a series of new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for every child, beginning at birth and continuing to age 5.  This year, I unveiled a plan that would make quality child care available to every middle-class and low-income family with young children under the age of 3.  I have also called on the Congress to expand access to high-quality preschool and full-day kindergarten for every child in America.  And I am calling on all Americans — including leaders of private and philanthropic organizations, communities, and governments at every level — to make their own commitments to our children, an effort that has already led to an investment of more than $1 billion to support our next generation of thinkers, dreamers, and doers.

The history of Head Start has taught us that if our Nation invests in the future of all our children, we can strengthen our economy, bolster our communities, and give every young person the chance to build a better life.  As we mark the 50th anniversary of Head Start, let us rededicate ourselves to building an education system worthy of our daughters’ and sons’ enormous potential, and to providing a strong, healthy, and safe head start in life for all of America’s children.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 18, 2015, as the 50th Anniversary of Head Start.  I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that recognize the importance of this vital program and support high-quality education for all Americans.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.


Source: The White House

Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/18/presidential-proclamation-50th-anniversary-head-start