PPC Home | Blogging4Children | Operation Restart Blog | Porch Light Project Blog
Focusing on a variety of education, health and youth development issues of importance to children and families in Pennsylvania.

The Power of Pre-k: The Military Gets It

 

“There are many factors impacting educational achievement. But there is one factor that has been proven to have a crucial impact on children from all backgrounds, and that is high-quality pre-kindergarten.”

That’s a powerful quote from a powerful source: a coalition of more than 450 retired generals, admirals and other senior retired military leaders known as Mission: Readiness. The non-partisan, national security organization issued a new report today underscoring the lifelong benefits of high-quality pre-k.

But the report also notes access to high-quality pre-k continues to be a problem in Pennsylvania. A full 70 percent of the commonwealth’s 3- and 4-year-olds – nearly 209,000 children in all – lack access to a high-quality program, and only about 1 in 6 of those children benefits from publicly funded, high-quality pre-k.

Of course, we can fix this by investing more state funds into high-quality pre-k, which is a goal of the statewide Pre-K for PA campaign (of which Mission: Readiness is a founding member). Such investments not only save money in other areas of the state budget, but they also have benefits for every one of us.

As the Mission: Readiness report puts it:

“High-quality pre-kindergarten programs can help children succeed in school and avoid criminal involvement, opening the doors to college, careers and military service, if they choose to serve. Increasing access to high-quality pre-kindergarten is a key investment in the readiness of our next generation and our future national security.”

 

###       

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

Tags:

New Federal Law Includes Foster Care Improvements

Earlier this month, Congress passed The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980), which now awaits President Obama’s signature.

This bi-partisan measure, introduced in June, was a combination of several House and Senate bills intended to address the prevention of domestic child sex trafficking in relation to the child welfare system (H.R. 4058, S.1878), the reauthorization and expansion of the adoption incentive program (H.R. 3205, S. 1876), and improvements to child support (H.R. 1896, S. 1877).

Congress’ action is good news for children and youth in foster care because the act will require states to develop protocols to identify, report and provide services to trafficking victims who were involved with the child welfare system. It also requires states to implement a “reasonable and prudent parent standard” to enable foster parents and other caregivers to make parental decisions regarding health, safety, extracurricular activities, etc. This standard will help ensure children and youth in foster care have greater normalcy in daily activities, and will help streamline decision making versus needing to rely heavily on agency policy and the courts.

In addition to addressing safety and well-being, the new law makes a number of changes to promote permanent families for children and youth. It limits the use of the court-ordered permanency goal of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA), which too often translates into long-term foster care. Also, the measure reauthorizes and expands the federal adoption incentives program, which provides additional funding to states that successfully facilitate adoption for children waiting in foster care for a family. The changes to this incentive program should help ensure Pennsylvania will continue to benefit from these incentive funds.

For further information, the Children’s Defense Fund has created a helpful summary of the act.

###       

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

New Poll Shows Strong Support for Pre-k

Likely voters in Pennsylvania’s Nov. 4 election strongly support access to high-quality pre-k, according to poll results released today by the statewide, non-partisan Pre-K for PA campaign. And that support comes from voting blocs you might not expect.

In particular, the poll found solid support for pre-k investments among two important groups of voters: senior citizens and those who remain undecided in the race for governor.

Sixty percent of voters over age 65 favor ensuring every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania has access to voluntary, high quality pre-k programs, and 55 percent of older voters favor increasing state funding for pre-k. Among undecided voters, 59 percent favor ensuring pre-k access and 55 percent favor increased funding for pre-k.

The poll of 400 likely voters, conducted by national pollsters Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research & Consulting, also found strong support for pre-k among all likely voters in general. Overall, 68 percent of those polled favor every 3- and 4-year-old having access to voluntary, high-quality pre-k programs, and 64 percent of likely voters support increased funding for high-quality pre-k.

We know Pennsylvanians are willing to support smart public policy that gets results and has a strong return on investment, so it shouldn't be surprising that most voters are increasingly supportive of high-quality pre-k. Yet only 1 in 6 of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year-olds has access to publicly funded high-quality pre-k, so it’s clear we have more work to do as a commonwealth to ensure this once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity is available to all.

###          

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

Grandparents Want High-Quality Pre-K Too

Yesterday was National Grandparents Day, making this a great week to hear from Pennsylvania grandparents who understand the many benefits high-quality pre-kindergarten has on young learners. Kelly, a grandmother and educator from Camp Hill, recently shared this story with the statewide, non-partisan Pre-K for PA campaign:

“Although my children are all now grown, my three grandchildren have absolutely benefited from having the chance to be part of a preschool program before entering kindergarten. They were much better prepared for the structure of the classroom, as well as socially and emotionally ready for elementary school and beyond.

“As an educator, I believe that these quality programs give children the foundation for future school success. We have all seen the research that it is never too early to impact our children with education – learning begins at birth and continues through the preschool years.

“If all the children of Pennsylvania have a chance to receive quality preschool programming, we will build a generation of children who will seek out higher education opportunities and become strong leaders. If we make the investment now in their education, we are investing in the future of our state.”

Kelly is hardly alone. Recent polling shows 60 percent of Pennsylvania's seniors support every 3- and 4-year-old having access to high-quality pre-k and 55 percent favor increasing state funding to make it happen.

Know a grandparent who uses social media? Ask them to use the image below as their profile picture to help us show the strong voter support among grandparents for investing in high-quality pre-k.

###           

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

Tags:

Join Us for an Early Learning Twitter Event on Sept. 10

We need to continue building awareness about the need for greater investments in high-quality early learning services for our children. Kids are heading back to school and Election Day is just two months away, making it a great time to underscore how early learning investments prepare children for school and life success.

What can you do?

Join your friends and colleagues nationwide on Wednesday, Sept. 10, to tweet photos of children and adults holding up #InvestInKids signs.

All you need to do to participate is follow these easy steps:

1)    Print out the #InvestInKids sign at this link and write in why you think we need to invest in early learning.

2)    Take photos of children/adults holding the sign.

3)    Post the photos to Twitter using the hashtag #InvestInKids. Twitter action is being focused between 2-3 p.m. EST on Sept. 10, but if you can’t make this exact time, please participate whenever you are able that day.

Also, please forward this message to a friend and ask them to do the same. Our state’s youngest children are counting on our help. 

Thank you.

###          

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

Tags:

Preparing PA Students for Success

Common Core State Standards have been getting a lot of media attention recently, and the term “Common Core” has become politically charged, with much of the opposition to the standards based on a lack of understanding and misinformation. Here are the facts:

Pennsylvania replaced the Common Core State Standards with the Pennsylvania Core Standards last year. The Pennyslvania Core Standards were created by Pennsylvania teachers to meet the specific educational needs of Pennsylvania students and teachers. The standards are not curriculum, but rather a set of expectations of what students should know by the end of each grade level. As children across the commonwealth begin a new school year, they will be learning to these new, stronger academic standards in English and math.

To measure the progress students are making toward achieving the Pennsylvania Core Standards, schools in the commonwealth assess student performance on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests in grades 3 through 8 and Keystone Exams in high school.

This school year (2014-15), there will be changes to the reading, writing and math PSSAs that students in grades 3-8 take in the spring to reflect that these tests are now aligned to the Pennsylvania Core Standards. As a result of this alignment, the separate writing PSSAs in grades 5 and 8 will be eliminated and students in grades 3-8 instead will take an English Language Arts PSSA that includes both reading and writing.

Implementing the stronger academic standards and measuring how well students are doing on the more challenging PSSA tests may result in an initial decline in test scores when they are released in the fall of 2015. This drop in scores is not unexpected and should not be interpreted as a decline in student learning or teacher performance. It simply means Pennsylvania is recalibrating expectations and raising the bar for student achievement to ensure our kids are on a pathway to graduate from high school postsecondary and workforce ready.

For more information on why the Pennsylvania Core Standards are important to ensure student success, read PPC’s factsheet, Preparing Our Students for Success: Higher Expectations = Greater Achievement.

###        

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

Tags:

A Win for Former Foster Youth

You might have heard the federal government recently approved Pennsylvania’s “Healthy PA” proposal to expand insurance coverage to more low-income adults. What you might not know is the feds rightfully rejected a part of the proposal that would have created a needless barrier to insuring former foster youth.

The original “Healthy PA” proposal would have required former foster youth to meet certain work requirements at age 21 and required some “aged out” foster youth to begin paying monthly Medicaid premiums in 2016. Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children was among those who opposed this idea and asked the feds to reject it. Many of you wrote letters supporting our position.

Under federal law, foster youth who age out of foster care as they enter adulthood - often with little or no support from family - must be provided Medicaid until age 26. This requirement is meant to ensure these young people have the same access to health insurance coverage as other young adults who are legally allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26.

Research shows the many challenges facing youth who age out of foster care, including the greater likelihood of homelessness, lack of employment and absence of health coverage. Allowing former foster youth to remain on Medicaid without needless fees or unfair requirements helps them overcome obstacles as they move into adulthood.

We’re glad to see the federal government agreed and we’re pleased that so many of you joined us in standing up for former foster youth.

###           

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

Tags:

What's Behind the Numbers on Child Maltreatment?

National data from our partners at the Annie E. Casey KIDS COUNT project shows the proportion of young children experiencing maltreatment has grown by 11 percent between 2004 and 2012. In 2012 alone, nine children out of every 1,000 across the country were confirmed victims of maltreatment. This translates to more than 600,000 children nationwide – 40 percent of whom are under age 5.

So how does Pennsylvania fare in this national perspective? The commonwealth actually has seen a slight decline in the proportion of children under age 5 experiencing maltreatment over the last few years. These young children make up about 18 percent of all children in Pennsylvania who experienced maltreatment in 2012, versus 40 percent nationwide.

This variation likely has something to do with how Pennsylvania has defined child abuse. Our definition has been less stringent than many other states, so what constituted maltreatment in other states might not have been classified as maltreatment here. But with new child protection laws going into effect in Pennsylvania, these data trends may change. Some of the ways Pennsylvania strengthened its definition of child abuse are particularly focused on protecting very young children from abuse. For example, forcefully shaking, slapping or striking a child under the age of one will now constitute child abuse (beginning in December 2014).

###         

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

Preparing Kids for Success

With just 10 weeks to go until Election Day, the statewide, non-partisan Pre-K for PA campaign continues to share and highlight personal stories from real people – mothers, fathers, educators and community members – highlighting the connection between high-quality pre-k and school readiness.

This week, we share a testimonial from Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, on the benefits high-quality early learning opportunities have on later learning:

“In learning, as in life, preparation makes a big difference. And high-quality pre-k is one of the best ways we can prepare our children for academic success.

“There is overwhelming evidence that kids who benefit from quality pre-k head to kindergarten with stronger literacy, language and math skills, making them less likely to need costly remedial or special education services later on. Because they benefitted from such a solid foundation for learning, these children are more likely to succeed academically, graduate and be prepared for whatever challenges they’ll take on after high school. That not only benefits the student, it benefits every Pennsylvanian.

“Unfortunately, too many young learners will be heading to kindergarten this fall not fully prepared because they missed out on high-quality pre-k. The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators supports the goals of the Pre-K for PA campaign because our school leaders know first-hand how high-quality pre-k can help drive student achievement in later years. We recognize the commonwealth needs to do more to make this once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity available to every 3- and 4-year-old.”

Despite the proven benefits of high-quality pre-k, too many kids are missing out on it due to a lack of access to quality programs. You can help us turn this around by lending your voice to the Pre-K for PA campaign.

###         

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

Take Some Time to #MeetTheKids

If you’re familiar with Pennsylvania’s Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network, or SWAN, you might recall a powerful video campaign last year called “Meet the Kids.”

The campaign featured real kids – not actors – who were in foster care. They spoke from the heart about their experiences, hopes and expectations as they awaited their “forever families.” As a result of the campaign, six of the 12 kids featured in the “Meet the Kids” debut are among the many Pennsylvania foster youth who have been matched with permanent families in the past year.

We’re happy to share the news that “Meet the Kids” is back for a second year, and you can hear the unscripted, first-person stories of 12 more young people in the foster care system. We hope you’ll take the time to watch these moving videos on YouTube and share them on social media using the hashtag #MeetTheKids.

And if you’re interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent (or know someone who is) visit the SWAN website at adoptpakids.org or call 1-800-585-SWAN.

###   

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

More Entries

Comments from readers of Blogging4Children do not necessarily represent the views of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.