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Home » Early Childhood Initiatives Continue to Gain National Attention

Early Childhood Initiatives Continue to Gain National Attention

January 8, 2015

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Julia Auch, Early Childhood Literacy Specialist

Julia Auch, Early Childhood Literacy Specialist

Here at Ready Readers, we are very clear about the benefits of reading aloud; the entire premise of our program.  Luckily, this message is gaining national attention, as well!  Too Small to Fail – a federal joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and Next Generation – are doing their part to spread the word.

Here’s a recent message coming from them:

“Reading aloud to children from birth has many benefits for both parents and children—and can be great fun!  No matter how young, children can learn a lot when they are read to, and benefit a great deal from the cuddling and bonding that accompanies a reading session. In addition, the act of reading aloud to children is highly beneficial to both their vocabulary growth and in preparing them for school later on.

Even from birth, children are absorbing language by listening to their parents and caregivers talk, read and sing to them and others.  When parents and caregivers read to their children, they help instill a love of learning and language in their children that helps build self-esteem, confidence and curiosity. According to research by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), reading has been found to be the “single most important skill” for a productive life.

Unfortunately, according to Read Aloud 15 MINUTES, only 48% of young children in the United States are read to each day. And studies have shown that as many as 10 million children struggle with basic reading in school.

Parents and caregivers can inspire a love of books in their young children by reading books together every day, in any language. And it doesn’t matter how young the child is; even newborn babies show interest and excitement when their parents read simple books to them as they cuddle or nurse them, or when parents describe the pictures in a book during a short play session. No matter the book—and no matter the age—children will learn to love reading if it means spending more time with loved ones.”

I’d like to encourage you to consider joining in on the national “Read Aloud 15 MINUTES” initiative.

“Read Aloud 15 MINUTES” is a non-profit organization, founded in 2008, that is working to make reading aloud every day for at least 15 minutes the new standard in child care.  When every child is read aloud to for 15 minutes every day from birth, more children will be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, more children will have the literacy skills needed to succeed in school, and more children will be prepared for a productive and meaningful life after school.  In 2012, Read Aloud began a decade-long national campaign, the 15 MINUTES movement.  Partnering with other organizations and businesses that are invested in child development and education, the 15 MINUTES movement aims to make reading aloud every day for 15 minutes the new parenting standard, and thereby change the face of education in this country.

Visit their website for more info and to join the initiative:

http://www.readaloud.org/

In other exciting, federal news, the Obama administration is speaking out again.  “Early education is one of the best investments we can make,” the president said, offering a familiar argument from supporters of early-childhood programs, and noting that many states and cities have gone on to make that investment on their own.

As part of the first White House Summit on Early Education, the administration announced the preliminary recipients of $500 million in grants intended to link childcare programs with Early Head Start; a program that serves children under the age of three.  The grants are being called preliminary because HHS is still in the process of negotiating with providers.  The entire $500 million is expected to be awarded by March.  In our area, it looks as if Youth in Need will receiving a big chunk of this funding, at 1.5 million, should the negotiations go well.  This is a very important initiative, with all we know about the necessity of quality 0-3 experiences.

President Barack Obama also lent his support to a coalition of public and private organizations that jointly made more than $330 million in commitments to early learning, through a new initiative called Invest in US.

In addition, the 2015 fiscal year budget agreement reached by the outgoing Congress boosted child care funding to states by $75 million under the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Couple this with a $1.4 billion increase in EC funding earlier in the year, and 2014 ended on a high note for EC advocates and educators.

All of these hopeful announcements come at a time when Missouri reports an all-time low in subsidized childcare participation.  In fact, Missouri ranked last.  An October survey by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) show enrollment has dropped by 12,300 children statewide.  Many worry that the state’s downsizing and reorganization of its Family Support Division offices in the Department of Social Services is preventing low-income parents from signing up.  What does this mean?  Without the subsidy, many of Missouri’s neediest children were probably being driven into potentially unsafe child care situations.  A new report by the National Women’s Law Center indicates Missouri’s child care subsidy rate is one of the worst in the nation.  Unfortunately, none of this surprises me.

Those who follow my blog know I don’t ever have the answers, but I certainly hope those that do get in front of this.  In a time when it would seem that more money will be available, I sure hope Missouri can figure out how to take advantage of it.

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