Happenings

D.C. Delays New Degree Requirements For Childcare Workers

Friday, November 17, 2017

(WAMU) - D.C. officials say they will give childcare workers in the city more time to comply with a new requirement that they obtain an associate’s degree or other higher education credential.

The requirement was put into place late last year, making D.C. one of the few places in the country to mandate higher education for childcare workers. Under the new rules, teachers at childcare centers and caregivers at home-based centers are required to get an associate’s degree in early childhood education, while assistant teachers at childcare centers and associate caregivers at home-based centers are required to get a Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate.

While city officials said the new degree requirements would help elevate a profession that is now seen as an integral part of a child’s education, critics worried it would burden already busy childcare workers and could make childcare in D.C. — already among the most expensive in the country — even more costly.

Responding to some of those concerns, the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) said Friday that it was extending the deadline for childcare teachers to get an associate’s degree by three years, from Dec. 2020 to Dec. 2023. Caregivers at home-based centers will get a four-year extension, from Dec. 2019 to Dec. 2024. For assistant teachers at childcare centers and associate caregivers and home-based centers, they will have another year — from Dec. 2018 to Dec. 2019 — to receive their CDA.

Elizabeth Groginsky, the assistant superintendent of early learning for the D.C. OSSE, said the extension reflected a balancing act between implementing the new requirement and giving childcare workers enough time to meet them.

“They felt it was very important, they saw the value, they understood why this was necessary to raise the level of quality,” she said. “But they felt they would need more time, some because they needed to take more developmental courses. Others for whom English is not their first language felt that they wanted to achieve these new credentials but they just needed more time.”

When the requirements were unveiled last December, they prompted a debate over whether D.C. was leading the way or simply throwing more unnecessary obstacles in front of childcare providers. A scholar at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute called the new requirements “burdensome” and “nonsensical,” and said they would drive workers into other professions since their average pay is low — roughly $26,000 a year.

That D.C. is offering an extension for the requirements has not mollified some critics, including Renee Flaherty, an attorney at the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice.

“The fact that OSSE is watering down its new regulations shows even more clearly that they’re not necessary,” she said. “A college degree requirement still makes no sense, no matter how long people have to comply. It’s an empty credential made even emptier by a lack of urgency.”

But Groginsky said Friday she stands behind the education requirements, and says that as more research explores the importance of early education, D.C. officials wanted to find ways to raise quality across the board.

“This really came about from what we had seen over the years in terms of the level of quality in centers where we saw teachers who had higher education credentials,” she said.

City officials say the new education requirements will D.C. at the forefront of early education relative to most other jurisdictions, which are still working to expand access to pre-K programs — which D.C. already has.

“D.C. is just in a very different place than most other states are, because we have had universal pre-K3 and 4 since 2008 and so we’re really now pushing past that to say, ‘How can we increase quality of care and learning in the earliest years, from birth to 3?’, which is a stage that most other states haven’t even gotten to contemplate,” said State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang.

To further help childcare workers meet the education requirements, Kang says D.C. is partnering with Trinity University — one of only two universities in D.C. that offer an associate’s degree in early childhood education — to hold classes at childcare centers starting next year.

 

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Colorado PERA Invests in Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc. (BFAM)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Lord Abbett & CO. LLC bought a new position in Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc. (NYSE:BFAM) during the second quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund bought 155,411 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $11,999,000. Lord Abbett & CO. LLC owned about 0.26% of Bright Horizons Family Solutions as of its most recent SEC filing.

Several other institutional investors have also modified their holdings of BFAM. Acrospire Investment Management LLC lifted its position in shares of Bright Horizons Family Solutions by 250.0% in the second quarter. Acrospire Investment Management LLC now owns 1,400 shares of the company’s stock worth $108,000 after buying an additional 1,000 shares during the last quarter. Public Employees Retirement Association of Colorado bought a new position in shares of Bright Horizons Family Solutions in the second quarter worth about $123,000.

READ MORE HERE FROM WEEK HERALD

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Should More Early-Childhood Education Centers Offer Extended Hours

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

(Education Week) - A new report from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families finds that low-income Hispanic families may be less likely to take advantage of early-childhood education programs due to working nonstandard hours—and the paper has implications for families of all backgrounds who are living in poverty.

The center found that among Hispanic children with low-income working parents, 75 percent in single-parent homes and 87 percent in two-parent homes had a parent working nonstandard hours. The report defined nonstandard hours as those outside of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday-Friday.

"What it really speaks to is a potential mismatch between what parents may need and what the early care and education field, especially the formal school-based programs, are able to provide parents," said Lina Guzman, the center's principal investigator and the director of Child Trends Hispanic Institute.

Guzman also stressed that this problem goes beyond Hispanic families.

"This is really speaking to low-income children across the board," said Guzman.

She said a surprising finding for their researchers was that black and white low-income families were also more likely to work nonstandard hours.

For example, among low-income two-parent Hispanic and black families, 70 percent of parents work a combination of standard and nonstandard hours. Among low-income two-parent white families, that number jumps to 73 percent.

But earlier work from the center found that early-childhood education centers that primarily serve Hispanic children are less likely to offer full-time hours, which the center defines as eight hours of care Monday-Friday.

The report released by the center this month also found that low-income Hispanic parents are more likely to have last-minute changes in their work schedules.

"A parent who knows that their schedules are going to change from week-to-week and that they're not going to have much advance notice may be reluctant to enter into a program where they have to sign up for a consistent schedule with a consistent payment," said Guzman. "That has implications about what will be attractive, feasible, and affordable for low-income parents."

This may make a home-based provider that offers flexible hours more attractive to parents than say a Head Start program or publicly funded pre-K program.

Possible Solutions

The government has responded to this problem. When the federal Child Care Development Fund was reauthorized in 2014, it included a provision that encouraged states to offer more child care options during nontraditional hours. But the report notes that states have a lot of latitude in how they implement this.

Guzman also pointed out that center-based care may not be the best option when it comes to families that work on the weekends or during overnight hours, and she said society has some important questions to consider when it comes to work.

"Whether it's manufacturing or agricultural or retail and service industries, as a society we may need to rethink whether we, in fact, want to continue expanding our workdays to more of that 24-7 economy and the implications this this has for all families," said Guzman.

Center researchers used the household survey of the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education, which includes three additional nationally representative surveys, to compile this report. They focused on children from birth to age 5 who were not yet in kindergarten and lived in households with a yearly income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

 

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Legislators raise concerns over Hickenlooper budget proposal

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

(Denver Business Journal)- Colorado legislators questioned Gov. John Hickenlooper today about the extent of public pension reform, the lack of transportation funding and the dearth of funding for struggling Coloradans in his budget proposal for next year.Their concerns offers a window into some of the main fights that are likely to dominate the 2018 session.

Hickenlooper’s $30.5 billion proposal increases funding for K-12 and higher education but makes few other significant investments that are different from recent years.

He also proposes closing the $32 billion unfunded liability in the Public Employees’ Retirement Association by requiring state and school-system workers to contribute another 2 percent of their salaries, but not requiring additional pay-in from public-sector employers.

The Democratic governor unveiled the proposal on Nov. 1, but Monday’s Joint Budget Committee meeting was the first opportunity for legislators to question him in an open forum about his spending priorities. And the myriad of concerns from both the six members of the budget-writing committee and a handful of other legislators who sat in on the meeting showed that legislators of both parties may be looking to make significant changes before backing the proposal.

Republican Sens. Kent Lambert of Colorado Springs and Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud both told Hickenlooper that while they appreciated his willingness to increase required employee contributions to PERA, they believe more needs to be done to bring about sustainable reform to the oft-debated public pension system.

Lambert said the investment returns need to be more transparent so that members of the Legislature don’t have to wait until PERA is in crisis before making changes to its policies, and Lundberg said the state should considered moving from a defined-benefit plan to a defined-contribution system, much like other states have done.

Hickenlooper responded that he did not want to move to a 401K-style defined contribution system because it would take a lot of money to create this new system while still having to honor obligations to all of the existing employees and retirees. He also said that after reading of all the people who raided their 401Ks during the Great Recession, he believes that it is better for the state’s economy and its potential load of public services to ensure these folks have enough money for a viable retirement.

“I’m well aware that there are some trade-offs on all of this,” Lundberg responded. “This is a tough conversation we’d better have this session if we are to come up with solutions. I am not satisfied to just kick this can down the road.

Rep. Millie Hamner, the Dillon Democrat who chairs the powerful JBC, said the Legislature needs to consider in its budget-writing process the large number of people throughout the state who continue to struggle for ways to pay for health care, pay for their rent and pay for child care.And while Hamner did not suggest any particular changes to the budget immediately, she asked Hickenlooper if he was happy with the money he put toward those services.

“One of the things that I’ll be thinking about is, 'Are we doing enough for hard-working Coloradans who are working so hard to keep up with all of this?'” Hamner said. “Is there enough in this budget to support hard-working Coloradans living here?”

Hickenlooper acknowledged that if he had more money in the budget, he would target it at four areas: transportation, affordable housing, support for keeping down college tuition and expansion of rural broadband. “I think there’s always more that could and should be done,” he said.

Rep. Tim Leonard, R-Evergreen latched onto those comments and questioned why Hickenlooper did not propose any money in the $11.5 billion general fund — that portion of the budget over which legislators have the most control — to transportation improvements.

Henry Sobanet, director of the governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting, emphasized that legislators approved $1.9 billion earlier this year to go to transportation as part of an omnibus bill, Senate Bill 267, that also increased business personal property tax breaks and removed the hospital provider fee from under the state’s revenue caps.

The Colorado Transportation Commission is preparing a list of projects and could start work in 2018 on $380 million in highway expansions and $120 million in deferred maintenance, Sobanet said. “I think it’s important to realize how big last year’s bill was, as opposed to (saying) we didn’t prioritize transportation,” Sobanet said.

Leonard said after the meeting that especially because he didn’t hear a timeline yet for when work will begin on the projects funded through SB 267 — or even what those projects will be — the Legislature needs to take more immediate action and put more money toward an area that both Democrats and Republicans have called a top priority in recent years. “What I see here is talk but no projects,” Leonard said.

JBC members will begin the budgeting process this month. The Legislature convenes its next session on Jan. 10.

 

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Activists push GOP Sen. Dean Heller to expand child care tax credit

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Save the Children Action Network, the political arm of Save the Children, will spend $10,000 on radio ads to run in Las Vegas urging Sen. Dean Heller to expand child care tax credits in the GOP tax reform package.

Heller is co-sponsor of the Promoting Affordable Childcare for Everyone (PACE) Act that would increase the federal tax credit for childcare and adjust the benefit to inflation. The big difference from similar proposals to raise the child tax credit is that the PACE Act would make an enhanced tax credit refundable, thus low-income working households would be eligible for refunds that exceed their federal income tax.

“I thank Sen. Heller for his support of the PACE Act and encourage him to work with his colleagues to include language from the bill into the Senate’s tax reform plan as they make amendments this week,” wrote Mark Shriver, president of the Save the Children Action Network and a member of the Democratic Kennedy-Shriver clan. “All kids deserve a strong start in life, and expanding the child care tax credit will help give them one.”

The current House and Senate tax bills do not include the PACE Act.

Heller co-sponsored the PACE Act with Sens. Angus King, I-Me., Susan Collins, R-Me., and Richard Burr, R-N.C.

SCAN is buying ads in Las Vegas, but not Maine or North Carolina. Communications director Brendan Daly explained that’s because of his group’s limited financial resources, as well as Heller’s position on the Senate Finance Committee. Burr also is a committee member.

“He’s a Republican and we’re trying to thank him here,” Daly said. “I don’t think the Democrats will be very happy with us that we’re thanking him for his support.”

In a statement, Heller explained his support for the measue. “In Nevada, real median household income is $7,000 lower today than it was 10 years ago, childcare expenses have skyrocketed, and families living in our state are more likely to be living paycheck to paycheck than families living almost anywhere else in the country. Nevadans deserve a break, and that’s why I will continue fighting for tax cuts for middle-class families,” he said.

 

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A Stanford professor says we should teach more math in preschool

Monday, November 13, 2017

Most parents do not have to be convinced that early literacy is important. Reading, singing, and talking to children before they can read themselves helps pave the way for curiosity, empathy and, hopefully, a lifelong love of reading.

But what about math? Deborah Stipek, a professor at Stanford and the former dean of the school of education, says math is just as important—if not more—to laying the foundations for educational success. But we are not nearly as focused on planting the seeds for a future love of math as we are for reading. “For a variety of reasons, people haven’t paid attention to math,” she says.

Research from 2007 found that math skills for kids entering kindergarten were a strong predictor of both math and reading skills in the third and fifth grades. Author Greg Duncan, a professor at the University of California Irvine, said it goes far deeper: Kids with persistent math problems are 13 percentage points less likely to complete high school than kids with no problems, and are 29 percentage points less likely to attend college.

“It’s intuitive you need to learn to read; even for math, you need to be able to read word problems,” Stipek says. “It’s not intuitive that math lays a foundation for learning.”

But it does. Plenty of research, including from the National Research Council underscores the importance of early mathematical thinking for developing cognitive abilities later in life.

“Math predicts reading; reading does not predict math. We don’t know why,” Stipek says. “There’s logic, it’s highly correlated with executive functions, it may help to develop attention skills,” she adds, noting that this is “total conjecture.”

“The mathematical ideas that young children are working on are the critical foundations to later mathematics,” says Megan Franke, a professor of education at UCLA. “Their work on sorting is the beginning of grouping, which leads to understanding multiplication/division and then slope.” These are areas, she says, where kids are competent and interested, providing ample opportunities for teachers. 

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National Child Nutrition Foundation to Award $20,000 in Scholarships for Professional Development

Monday, November 13, 2017

AUSTIN, Texas, November 1, 2017 (Newswire.com) - For 32 years the National Child Nutrition Conference for CACFP, Afterschool, and Summer has offered unparalleled training, education, and networking opportunities to the child nutrition community. This year the annual conference will be held in San Antonio, TX on April 19-21, 2018

Through the National Child Nutrition Foundation, there are a number of scholarship opportunities available that make attendance possible. Each scholarship will include conference registration, four (4) nights lodging at the conference hotel, and up to $300.00 toward transportation costs.

If you work for any of the following organizations operating the CACFP you are eligible to apply for scholarships for each program: CACFP Sponsor, Tribal Nations, Head Start, Food Banks, At-Risk/Afterschool, Summer Food Program, Child Care Centers and Home Providers, and School Districts. The deadline to apply is January 24, 2018.Apply Now!

Since 1986 the National CACFP Sponsors Association (NCA) is the leading national organization for sponsors who administer the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). We provide education and support to thousands of members in the CACFP community and in particular to sponsors of all sizes from across the country. We strive to improve communication between families, care givers, sponsors, and their supervising government agencies.

Source: National CACFP Sponsors Association

 

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KUNC Story Details Harassment Extensive At Colorado Capitol

Friday, November 10, 2017

Nine legislators, staffers and lobbyists told KUNC public radio that Rep. Steve Lebsock, a Democrat running for state treasurer, harassed, intimidated or made unwanted sexual advances against them. "And in response to our reporting, a top Democratic leader is calling on Lebsock to 'do the right thing and resign,'" KUNC said.

Beyond Lebsock, there are other complaints about a handful of male senators touching women’s lower backs, giving lingering hugs, making uncomfortable and unwanted comments about appearances, massaging necks, telling off-color jokes of a sexual nature and showing pornographic pictures, the station's Bente Birkeland reported.

Several female lobbyists told Birkeland they try to avoid being alone with certain senators and go to offices in pairs or ask a male colleague to talk to them instead. None were willing to be named for this story, saying they feared going public would hurt their work at the legislature.

Posted: Nov. 10, 2017

 

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Connecting Read-Alouds With STEM in Early Childhood Education (Video)

Friday, November 10, 2017

(Education Week) Lisa Herr, an early childhood educator, demonstrates how to drive conversation and critical thinking among young students by asking open-ended questions during a classroom read-aloud. Following the read-aloud, Lisa leads her students in a fun activity where she connects themes from the book with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics principles. CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO...

 

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New Resource Listing State Age Requirements

Friday, November 10, 2017

(Education Commission of the State) - This 50-State Review defines and explores free and compulsory education, and includes state examples, policy considerations, exemptions and requirements. Age Requirements for Free and Compulsory Education

 

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