Happenings

CDPHE School and Child Care Immunization Data Reporting Site - OPEN

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Colorado Board of Health rule 6 CCR 1009-2 requires most schools and licensed child cares to report aggregate immunization and exemption data to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment annually. The 2017-2018 school year marks the second year of this reporting requirement. The deadline for data submission is December 1.

Who must report: Public, private and parochial schools with grades K - 12, as well as child care centers, preschools and Head Start programs with 10 or more children.

Who does not need to report: School-age child care centers, family child care homes, drop-in centers, day treatment centers, foster care homes, day camps and resident camps - though these facilities are still required to collect immunization or exemption forms for their students.

We have made improvements to the data collection process in an effort to make the reporting requirement less burdensome. The online reporting form for the 2017-2018 school year is now available. To access the form and instructions for completing it, go to www.coloradoimmunizations.com and click Child cares, schools and colleges/universities, then click School and child care immunization data reporting. The online reporting form will remain open through December 1. Hard copies of data submitted to CDPHE will not be accepted.

CDPHE will provide (optional) general orientation and Q & A webinars in late October and early November. Click here to sign up.

If you have questions or concerns, please email cdphe_informaticsimmunization@state.co.us

 

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Persistent Gaps: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

(National Women’s Law Center) - This year’s report shows that 41 states had improvements in one or more of the key policies covered in the report, while 14 states had cutbacks in one of more of these policies, between February 2016 and February 2017. Yet, the improvements states made were small, and not sufficient to close continuing gaps in families’ access to assistance and the level of assistance available.

 


 


 

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Congress should improve the child care credit to help working parents

Monday, October 30, 2017

(The Hill) - As lawmakers prepare to expand the popular $1,000 child tax credit, they run the risk of overlooking the child care credit, a provision that cries out for expansion. The child care credit, also called the dependent care credit, offers tax relief for child care costs incurred by working single parents and by married couples in which both parents work.

The economic case for tax relief for child care costs is straightforward. If workers are taxed on their wages, they should receive tax relief for the costs they incur to earn the wages, just as businesses deduct the costs of earning the income on which they pay tax. There can be little doubt that child care costs are tied to work.

Common sense suggests, and statistical studies confirm, that making child care cheaper encourages parents to enter the labor force. That logic persuaded Congress to provide tax relief for child care costs in 1954. Today’s child care credit offers 20 cents of tax savings, and more for some moderate income workers, for each dollar spent on child care. But the credit has two key shortcomings.

First, the tax savings apply to only the first $3,000 of child care costs for parents with one child and the first $6,000 for those with two or more children. Those limits have risen only 50 percent since 1976, failing to keep pace with rapidly rising child care costs. Congress should increase the limits and build in an automatic inflation adjustment.

Second, the child care tax credit is unavailable to workers too poor to owe individual income tax. Those workers pay Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes on their wages without any tax relief for the child care costs they incur to earn those wages. Making the credit refundable would extend relief to those workers.

In a rare moment of agreement during last year’s presidential campaign, both Donald Trump recognized the need for additional tax relief for child care costs. Surprisingly, however, the recent tax framework set forth by the White House and the Republican congressional leadership makes no mention of expanding the child care credit.

That silence is ominous because the framework calls for the repeal of unspecified “exemptions, deductions and credits for individuals,” suggesting that the child care credit could end up on the chopping block. Some previous tax reform plans have slated the child care credit for repeal, apparently misunderstanding the need to provide tax relief for work-related costs.

One misconception views the child care credit as just another special interest tax preference that tilts the playing field in favor of a particular type of consumer spending. That objection gets things exactly backward. By taxing work, income and payroll taxes discourage spending on work-related costs. Providing tax relief for those costs is needed to level the playing field.

Another misconception sees the child care credit as unnecessary if the $1,000 child tax credit is increased. After all, increasing the child tax credit helps all parents, whether they work or stay home with their children, while the child care credit helps only working parents. But that difference is exactly why the child care credit is needed. Only working parents pay taxes on wages and need tax relief for the costs of earning wages.

Of course, parents who stay home to care for their children also incur costs as they give up the wages that they could have earned by entering the labor force. But those parents already get tax relief for their costs because they don’t earn the foregone wages, and thus don’t pay income and payroll taxes on them.

Increasing the $1,000 child credit may be a good way to provide tax cuts to the middle class. But boosting the child credit won’t provide tax relief for work-related costs and it won’t encourage work. Regardless of what Congress ends up doing with the child tax credit, it should preserve and improve the child care credit.

Alan D. Viard is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studies federal tax and budget policy. He previously served as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas , the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the United States Joint Committee on Taxation.

 

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The Crisis Facing America’s Preschool Teachers

Friday, October 27, 2017

(The Atlantic) - Jameelah Jones is relieved to be working again. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, she had to take leave from her job at the Parent Infant Center in west Philadelphia where she was the head teacher to a class of 3-year olds. With her cancer in remission she was able to return to work last year, but she was barred from going back to the same classroom: The center had raised the qualifications for its head teachers, requiring that they now have an associate’s degree. Jones doesn’t have one, so she had to take a position in the infant room instead, caring for children ages 2 and younger.

Jones, who recently turned 50 and has lived in Philadelphia since immigrating there from Guyana at age 10, has spent most of her adult life working with children. She has watched the childcare field evolve over the course of her career, from an emphasis on making sure young children mind their manners to one on helping them develop rich vocabularies before they start kindergarten.

“I used to teach the children to say, ‘No thank you’ to anything they didn’t want or like. I must have said it a thousand times a day,” she said, chuckling. “Now, if a child doesn’t want something, I encourage them to say exactly what they mean; ‘No, I do not want to share my block with you.’ Or `No, I do not want to eat the carrots.’ The more words the better.”

Jones believes that long-time workers like her do need more training in the theory and practice of early learning. In fact, she has tried many times over the last two decades to complete a college degree, and she is still paying off over $8,000 in student loans from those attempts. But thanks to various obstacles—raising her two daughters, the deaths of her nephew and then her sister, or her recent battle with cancer—she was never able to finish. By now, she has run through her eligibility for Pell grants and can’t afford any more debt. With so many new requirements popping up, time is running out for many long-time childcare workers, particularly those like Jones for whom going back to school seems all but impossible.

But thankfully for Jones, her employer is keen for her to stay and willing to help. It’s partnering with a program that equips early-education workers who lack college degrees with the training and qualifications they need to remain competitive. This spring, Jones enrolled at Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), as part of the apprenticeship program, organized by a local nonprofit dedicated to building the skills of the city’s health and childcare workers. The organization, the District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund, is partnering with CCP and more than 20 childcare centers across the city to provide apprenticeships to people like Jones, who along with 32 fellow apprentices is on track to earn an associate’s degree in early-childhood education.

Jones is optimistic about finishing because it’s easier to combine working and learning through the apprenticeship approach than it is through traditional degree programs. In this program, she is a “registered apprentice,” a designation defined in federal law for a particular class of workers that confers a set of specific rights and responsibilities on her and her employer. Jones’s rights include access to structured, paid, on-the-job training and a worksite mentor. She also has six hours a week of release time to attend classes at CCP, and is entitled to a series of pay raises as she meets key benchmarks. Her responsibilities include working closely with her mentor, passing her courses, and abiding by all the workplace rules she was already subject to at PIC. In addition, she has to demonstrate mastery of a set of core, on-the-job skills; she gets college credit once she does. In other words, Jones is making progress toward her degree just by coming to work every day and learning on the job. And by the time she finishes next year, she’ll not only have an associate’s degree—she will also be making $2 more per hour than she currently is, and be no deeper in debt.

The early-education field is in a difficult period of transition. Grounded in solid evidence that early learning can help reduce educational achievement gaps among children and generate a host of other lasting positive effects, the field is still struggling to distinguish itself from traditional childcare. Early education is arguably the most effective part of the educational system for mitigating the toxic effects of poverty, but it also receives much less funding than other levels of schooling.

While advocates seek to position early education as a natural extension of the K-12 school system, it is still delivered primarily through private childcare centers and paid for by parents who can afford it. The public funding that is available exists primarily through Head Start and block grants and is distributed as vouchers to low-income families; states are increasingly funding early education, too. But waiting lists are often long and demand far outstrips supply.

Apprenticeship, at least in theory, allows participants to leverage their everyday experiences on the job to integrate theory and practice. As governments invest, they also need to ensure that public dollars are flowing to high-quality programs—which means to centers staffed by qualified teachers. Efforts to professionalize the field have focused on increasing the education level of the workers in the centers, with the eventual goal of putting them on par with those of elementary-school teachers, who in public schools are required to have bachelor’s degrees.

Increasing the credential requirements for early educators, however, is raising a host of equity concerns as longtime workers like Jones face the prospect of losing their job if they are unable to complete college. Fewer than half of educators working with children ages 3–5 in center-based settings in 2012 had a bachelor’s degree. That figure drops to 19 percent for those working with infants and toddlers.

Then there’s the fact that increasing the educational levels of early-education workers has had almost no effect on their wages. The average pay for a childcare teacher in the United States is just $9.70 an hour, and many lack access to benefits like health insurance or paid leave. Pay is low even for early-education teachers with bachelor’s degrees, who make around $30,000 per year on average. In fact, according to Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, a bachelor’s degree in early education generates the lowest lifetime earnings of all college majors. Imposing degree requirements for workers like Jones without a strategy for increasing her wages could mean early-education advocates are just trading off greater equity at one end of the spectrum for more inequity at the other.

Most of the efforts to professionalize the early-education workforce have been built around providing workers access to financial aid so they can afford college. Philadelphia’s early-childhood apprenticeship initiative is going one step further and bringing college into the workplace, allowing participants to work toward their degree during work hours. Attending online classes at night after a long day caring for children, or taking a course or two a semester at a local community or for-profit college, is not the same as learning on the job; the classmates are not coworkers, the teacher is not a supervisor, and the content is often generic. Apprenticeship, at least in theory, allows participants to leverage their everyday experiences on the job to integrate theory and practice.

Childcare workers don’t come to mind when most people think about apprenticeship. Images of blue-collar workers in the building trades—or a reality TV show starring well-dressed celebrities—probably come to mind. But over the last decade, apprenticeship has been expanding into industries such as healthcare, finance, IT, and even cybersecurity. The Obama Administration invested more than $250 million in efforts to double the number of American apprentices, and the Trump Administration issued an Executive Order in June calling for the expansion of apprenticeship into new industry sectors.

Governors in Colorado, South Carolina, Washington, and Maryland have all launched programs aimed at growing their apprenticeship systems. Apprenticeship is appealing for all kinds of reasons. For employers, it’s a proven strategy for addressing skill shortages. For policymakers, it is an effective workforce-development strategy that leverages public and private investments. For the apprentices, it is an opportunity to get valuable skills and credentials without going through traditional college. All three of those factors make apprenticeship a particularly good fit for professionalizing early-education workers: Childcare centers need more teachers with degrees, policymakers want to expand access to quality early education without increasing the cost to families, workers needs affordable pathways to degrees.

The Philadelphia apprenticeship program is designed specifically for childcare workers who have experience in the field but lack an associate’s degree. The apprentices will take a series of courses at CCP. They will also participate in structured, on-the-job learning, mastering a set of skills identified by the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC) and aligned with national quality standards for early educators.

The courses have been designed to complement the on-the-job learning. The general-education courses—in math, English, and computer literacy—have been contextualized around the work of early education. For their English requirement, for example, the apprentices are reading Play, a book that explores how play can support early learning, and writing a paper on early-childhood development. They are learning to use Excel and PowerPoint in ways relevant to solving problems that might come up at work.

Putting the program together has not been simple. The Training Fund recruits the employers and manages a complex web of relationships among apprentices, mentors, the community college, and state and city agencies. For now, the program is financed through a mix of public and private funding sources. Employers commit to four pay raises and to paying 10 percent of an apprentice’s tuition at CCP (about $500 a year). The apprentices also pay 10 percent of tuition. The rest of the tuition, fees, and materials costs are covered by Pennsylvania T.E.A.C.H. scholarships.

The model is not without its weaknesses. Four of the apprentices have already dropped out, just since May. It’s unclear how many will actually make it to the finish line. More importantly, there are reasons to be concerned about the quality of the on-the-job learning that is taking place in the participating centers. The Training Fund had hoped to limit the program to centers with a top rating from the state.

But they were not able to recruit enough 4-star centers to make the program viable and had to bring in apprentices from lower-quality centers, where senior staff are less likely to have college degrees and classrooms have fewer resources. Since the mentors are responsible for certifying the on-the-job learning, big differences in the skills or backgrounds of the mentors, and in the quality of the centers where they work, are a cause for concern.

Rashid Rowe has been working in early childhood all his life; “I was kind of born into it,” he said, explaining that his mother ran a daycare center in his house. Today, he works in centers and camps around the Philadelphia area. In his early 40s, dressed in shorts and a bright yellow t-shirt and with his hair in dreadlocks, Rashid looks at ease sitting in the child-size chair at Brightside Academy in north Philadelphia. He signed up for the apprenticeship program because it would allow him to get his associate’s degree at almost no cost; he had enrolled at Community College of Philadelphia when he was younger, but felt that he couldn’t afford it. He is one of just three male apprentices in the program, and one of very few who is not paying off student-loan debt.

 

Since joining the program in April, Rashid has already noticed some changes in his relationship with his job and his co-workers. “I’ve been speaking up more,” he shared. At a recent meeting with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, the normally shy Rashid delighted everyone by offering some thoughts on the need for more men in the field. Rashid’s mentor, Telia Pembleton, has also noticed changes in how her supervisors treat her since she volunteered for the program. She’s taking on other responsibilities at Brightside and feels like more of a leader. She has recently started looking into master’s programs in educational leadership.

Joanna Footman, Jones’s mentor, likewise feels like their relationship has changed since the program started. “We talk much more than before,” Footman explained, noting that she’s able to observe Jones and provide feedback now that Jones is taking so much of the teaching into her own hands. Jones clearly appreciates the attention and the feedback; it makes her more confident about finally getting that college degree. “Oh, she’s gonna finish,” Footman warned, with a smile, “Even if I have to go to class with her, she’s going to finish.”

 

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Supporting Early Childhood Development

Thursday, October 26, 2017

(Bipartisan Policy Center) - The unlikely political duo of Rick Santorum and George Miller have found areas of agreement when it comes to early childhood policy. Today, the two former lawmakers, who are co-chairmen of an early childhood initiative for the Bipartisan Policy Center, will call on Congress to expand the child tax credit for parents of young children and double investment in the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Supporting Early Childhood Development

 

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Ivanka Trump Reaches Across The Aisle On Tax Credit

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Pelosi ally meets with Ivanka Trump on child tax credit (Politico) - Ivanka Trump met with Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a close ally of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, this week in an effort to gin up support for her proposal to expand the child tax credit.

 

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Aurora's Continued Enrollment Decline

Thursday, October 26, 2017

ENROLLMENT Aurora Public Schools is seeing the largest decline of students in decades, and it is likely that the enrollment numbers will not improve for five more years. Chalkbeat

 

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Colorado Women's Hall of Fame announces their Class of 2018

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

DENVER-- An astronaut, four nonprofit leaders and activists, a university chancellor, a former Colorado Lt. Governor, a journalist and suffragette, an educator of the deaf, and a community builder and cattle owner comprise the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Class of 2018. These ten inductees become the next group of extraordinary contemporary and historical women with significant ties to Colorado, who have made enduring and exemplary contributions to their fields, inspired and elevated the status of women and helped open new frontiers for women and society.

“Extraordinary is the operative word for this class of women,” Beth Barela, Chair of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame told Denver7. “Their beauty, their truth, their grit and grace is extraordinary and they are the unsung heroes of our day.”

Since its founding in 1985, the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame has inducted 152 women from many races, backgrounds, economic levels, career choices, political philosophies, and religious beliefs for their outstanding contributions to society. The inductees are contemporary and historical and each have not only made exemplary contributions in their fields, but have elevated the status of women, opened new frontiers and been sources of inspiration for others. This latest class of inductees will officially be welcomed to the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in March. Denver7 anchor Anne Trujillo will host that event.

The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee Class of 2018 are:

Gerie Grimes - Early Childhood Education activist/Non Profit leader

Gerie Grimes has dedicated and committed her life to the needs of others (especially women and women of color of all ages), building community and using her voice to be a strong advocate for the voiceless. She has dedicated 36 years of her life to Hope Center, originally called Hope Center for the Retarded. Geri has dedicated her life to creating the opportunity for all children to have a better early childhood education experience. She has led Hope Center for the last 12 years. Her leadership, intelligence and expertise have made Denver’s Hope Center a model for how all children deserve the best education – no matter race or level of capability that society has labeled them. As Marie Montessori said, ““The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six.” International research supports this belief.

In addition, her leadership roles include being active in the Denver community serving presently and in the past on many boards and committees, such as the Center for African American Health, Denver Early Childhood Council, Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children, National Black Child Development Institute Denver Affiliate, Equity in Early Childhood Coalition, Transforming the Early Childhood Education Workforce (National efforts), Denver Preschool Program Advisory Board, Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP), East5ide Unified Leadership Team, Mayor’s Head Start Policy Council, Mayor’s Early Childhood Education Commission, Metro State University Board of Trustees, Metro State University Alumni Board, Colorado Black Women for Political Action, Falcons Youth Organization and the Police Activities League. She presently serves as Board Treasurer for Colorado’s Association for the Education of Young Children.

Read More From Channel 7 Here...  

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Personal Finance #ChangeTheWorld Oct 25, 2017 @ 10:20 AM 230 The Little Black Book of Billionaire Secrets Nobel Laureate Heckman: Tax Reform Could Boost Economy With Bigger, Refundable Child Care Credit

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

(Forbes) As Congress contemplates a major tax overhaul, it has the opportunity to generate revenue and a healthier national economy by helping parents with the costs of quality early childhood education and care. One important tax credit strategy comes to the forefront as an effective solution: increasing the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) to better reflect the cost of care and education and making it refundable for low- and middle-income taxpayers.

The stated goal of many tax reformers is to simplify the tax code in ways that will spur greater economic growth. One effective way to do this is to provide relief to families with young children who have disproportionately high childcare and education expenses at a time when they are struggling to build their careers and incomes.

For many single-parent families, the earnings of the mother are essential for family income. Quality childcare costs are staggering and often make work unprofitable, especially for low-wage parents. Low-quality childcare has been shown to harm child development, so that is not an attractive option.

Increasing the CDCTC helps parents afford the early childhood education that will provide their children with a foundation for success in school and life—and provide society with a return on investment in the form of greater productivity.

Created in 1976, the CDCTC was intended to help parents afford work-related childcare expenses. While Congress has increased the credit over the years, the costs of early care and education have outstripped the benefits. Today, the maximum credit for working parents with two or more children is $2,100. That is 10% of the average annual cost of care for two children, and, more importantly, those most in need cannot access this important resource.

Making the CDCTC refundable will make sure the benefit goes to those who are most in need.

Unfortunately, the majority of low- and middle-income taxpayers with qualified expenses cannot take advantage of the existing CDCTC because its value can’t exceed a family’s tax liability. As a result, higher-income families benefit from the CDCTC when low- and middle-income families need it most. According to the Tax Policy Center, families earning $100,000 or more claim nearly 40% of the tax credit. Almost no families in the lowest-income quintile access the credit—because they can’t.

The present tax code does not encourage low-wage parents with children to work. Congress would be wise to address this pressing issue to grow the economy and restore incentives for the poor to work. Access to affordable, high-quality early care and education is a vital ingredient for social mobility among low- and middle-income families. Research shows that many low- and middle-income children begin life at a disadvantage because their parents don’t have adequate resources to invest in their early development. As a result, the achievement gap opens early and children arrive at kindergarten already far behind their more affluent peers. Promoting greater access to early childhood education promotes greater equality, achievement and productivity.

Helping parents afford quality early childhood education as part of a childcare package is not a subsidy – it is an investment. It increases economic productivity by helping parents work, build careers and income, reduce absenteeism on the job and be a part of a capable and stable workforce. At the same time, it builds essential skills in young children that have significant, beneficial short- and long-term effects on education, health, social behavior and lifetime employment and income.

Tax reform is an opportunity to support families that are struggling financially to do right by their children and drive greater prosperity for the nation. Increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and make it refundable. Anything short of that will be a missed opportunity to spur economic growth for generations to come.

James J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, a Nobel Memorial Prize winner in economics and an expert in the economics of human development. Through the university’s Center for the Economics of Human Development, he has conducted groundbreaking work showing that there are great economic gains to be had by investing in early childhood development.


 

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As Open Enrollment Nears, Colorado's Obamacare Chief Readies For Change

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Despite oncoming federal changes to the health care system, Connect For Health Colorado is preparing for open enrollment

 

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