Clayton Early Learning
20Jan/17Off

Men in ECE Speak Up: Ugly stereotypes, the importance of male teachers and why we love this field of work

Samuel McCabe

Posted by Samuel McCabe

By

Samuel McCabe

Before I begin, I would like to thank everyone who responded to the survey attached to the last blog on Men in ECE. Without your open and honest responses this second post would not be possible.

Your feedback from the survey has been incredibly helpful to me in formulating this post and has provided Clayton Early Learning with valuable data as we continue to advocate for excellence in the field of early childhood education.

Since my last post, I had been eagerly awaiting the results of the survey in hopes of gaining some new insight and perspectives from other teachers, both male and female, parents and communityDSC00358 members. Some of the responses solidified my predictions from the last blog, while others presented a perspective I hadn’t heard before.

We will not necessarily try to debunk or support any specific point of view or stereotype here. My intention now is only to initiate conversations surrounding societal perceptions of men in this field so that we can support professional development and growth for all educators and to celebrate the contribution that men can make as ECE professionals.

Now, I am eager to share some of the responses that I received to the survey questions posed in my first post. For brevity, I have paraphrased the collected responses to provide a general sense of how those surveyed responded to each of the prompts.

Do you feel men in ECE are more sought after by employers?

A slight majority of replies to this questions suggested that yes, men are more sought after by employers to work in this field. However, this question received a variety of perspectives that suggest that employers attempt to remain unbiased in selecting their teaching staff. One respondent stated that the current trend in ECE is to advocate for more men in the field, therefore employers feel more obliged to hire men.

In your opinion, what importance, if any, do men play in the field of ECE?

Predominantly, the responses indicated that gender balance is an important benefit of having men in ECE classrooms. This balance can support positive modeling of communication and collaboration between male and female teachers. Responses also illustrated the benefit of having male role models for both boys and girls and the differences in communication styles, creativity and interaction that men display.

In your opinion, are there currently any stereotypes about men working in ECE?

This question elicited a variety of answers that many of the respondents were quick to include that they did not subscribe to. Some of the responses indicated that society perceives men in ECE as unambitious, that men choose to work in this field because they weren’t adept at working in upper level education classrooms, or that men in this field are choosing an easy job.

The majority of the responses revealed that ECE is still not considered a masculine profession, regardless of the push to employ more men in the field. One person stated that society believes “men should work with older children.” This leads into some of the more harmful stereotypes of male ECE educators. Several of the respondents wrote that society views men in ECE as predators. This stereotype is particularly harmful to the field as it often serves to discourage would-be male candidates from pursuing a career in early education. Conversely, a looming stereotype that male teachers have inappropriate interests in their work can be extremely harmful to the parent-teacher relationship. Knowing that a trusting relationship is critical in partnering with families, this stereotype is one that must be acknowledged and debunked.

It is disappointing, though not necessarily surprising, that the bulk of our responses indicate that those who participated in the survey believe men in ECE are generally viewed with skepticism and suspicion.

While the daily professional work of an educator is challenging in its own right, men in the field of early childhood education face the additional test of overcoming gender stereotypes that may impact their sense of efficacy as a teacher.

________

 

Despite the sometimes harsh reality of stereotypes of men in early childhood education, I was inspired to read the responses that men offered regarding their choice of profession.  Though this is a small sample of what was received, it speaks volumes to the diversity of men in the field - their approach to teaching, philosophies on education and motivations for working with young children and families. The responses below have been edited for clarity and brevity, but are completely authentic in tone and message.

 

Why did you choose a career in ECE?

“For the joy of working with young children.”

“I love children and I am amazed by their potential.”20150814_assessment_078

“I have taught secondary, primary and ECE. It is the most important age for children's learning, and the development of their dispositions. My teaching philosophy and mission is to empower all through education.”

“I wanted a job that would be nurturing in nature and where I could use my talents for communication and working with children.”

“Because I'm good with children and I enjoy their company. Children are very intuitive. I am successful in my work as a teacher because children can sense that they are safe with me and that I genuinely enjoy working with them.”

“To inspire and tap into little minds. I believe children can do far more than the general population believes they can and so I push my students to show the world what they can do.”

“It was exciting to discover that I was good at teaching preschool students. Being confident in my ability at work is a great feeling.”

“I wanted to make an impact on the lives of young children.”

________

 As I wrote in my last blog, male ECE teachers are a diverse group with many reasons for educating, impacting and improving the lives of young children. If you know a male early childhood educator, I encourage you to ask them why they have chosen this field. I guarantee you that their answer will inspire you with a new respect for their work.

We will continue sharing these stories, challenges, barriers and celebrations of men in early childhood education and hope that you will too. This is the first important step in overcoming harmful stereotypes and encouraging gender diversity in the field of ECE.

7Jun/16Off

Highlights for ECE from the 2016 Colorado Legislature

Lauren Heintz

Posted by Lauren Heintz

By

Lauren Heintz

The Colorado legislative session has come to a close! After considering nearly 800 bills and resolutions these past few months, Colorado policymakers adjourned for the year on May 11th.  Clayton Early Learning tracked over a dozen bills related to our children, their caregivers, and the field of early childhood this legislative session, several of which passed into law:

  • HB16-1227: Exempts a CCCAP applicant who is a teen parent from the current prerequisite child support cooperation as a condition of receiving child care assistance. The bill also exempts an applicant who is a victim of domestic violence, a sexual offense, harassment, or stalking from child support cooperation requirements or from establishing good cause for not cooperating as a condition of receiving child care assistance. This bill would eliminate one of the key barriers for teen parents and domestic violence survivors seeking to access child care.
  • HB16-1242: This supplemental appropriation bill for the Colorado Department of Human Services includes a reassignment of funding to go to doubling the amount of Early Childhood Mental Health Intervention Specialists employed by the state from 17 to 34. This means more readily available help and resources to organizations like Clayton to support positive mental health of our children, families, and staff.
  • HB16-1423: Tightens statewide restrictions to protect student data privacy by adopting additional duties that the state board, department of education, school districts, boards of cooperative services, and charter schools must comply with to increase the transparency and security of the student personally identifiable information that the department and the education agencies collect and maintain.
  • HB16-1425: Specifies that a licensed child care center is not required to obtain immunization records for any child who enrolls and attends the center for up to 15 days or less in a 15-consecutive-day period. A center that accepts short-term enrollees can only do so only if it provides notification to all parents who have children in the center that the center allows short-term enrollees without obtaining proof of immunization.
  • SB16-22: Removes the 10-county limit in the “cliff effect” pilot program for CCCAP to allow additional counties to participate in the pilot program. The pilot program addresses the “cliff effect” that occurs when working parents receive a minor increase in their income that makes them ineligible for child care assistance, which is often not enough of an increase to cover child care costs completely. The pilot allows for a more gradual phase out of assistance to help families transition.
  • SB16-212: Aligns state law with changes in federal law related to the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP). The state law would be modified to specify that a child receiving CCCAP supports continues to be eligible for those supports for an entire 12-month period before eligibility is redetermined, as long as the child's family income remains below 85% of the state median income for that family size, as required by federal law. This correction to state law would also support the CCCAP reforms that have been occurring since the passage of HB14-1317 in 2014 that Clayton Early Learning has played an active role in implementing.

Bills that Clayton Early Learning followed that did not pass includes:

  • HB16-1002: Re-enacts the repealed K-12 Parental Involvement Act which required employers to provide its employees up to 18 hours per academic year of unpaid leave from work to attend a child’s academic activities. This bill would expand both the types of activities that were permitted for the employee leave, such as parent teacher conferences, as well as expand the law to include parents of preschoolers.
  • HB16-1022: Increases the amount of funding school districts receive to more comprehensively fund full day kindergarten. According to this bill, if a school district does not currently provide a full-day kindergarten program during the 2016-17 year they must use these new funds to expand its kindergarten facilities. Funding for following school years are also written into the bill.
  • HB16-1045: In 2013, the general assembly created a child tax credit against state income taxes for a resident individual. But the credit, which is a percentage of the federal child tax credit based on the taxpayer's income, is only allowed after the United States congress enacts a version of the "Marketplace Fairness Act". This bill repeals the contingent start of the tax credit and instead allows the credit to be claimed for any income tax year beginning with the 2016 income tax year.
  • HB16-1050: Creates a task force to address the child care needs of low-income parents of young children as the parents seek to advance their education. The task force must identify and reduce, if possible, barriers to obtaining child care from the range of available federal, state, and private child care sources, determine whether the parents' child care needs can be met through existing sources, review and streamline the processes for providing child care for parents while they obtain education or training, communicate the availability of child care from public and private sources to parents who are seeking education or training, and recommend legislative changes.
  • HB16-1196: Creates the aspire to college Colorado pilot program in the department of human services to provide college savings accounts, as defined in the bill, to preschool-aged children served in an early childhood program. Within existing appropriations, the state department shall make an initial $50 contribution to a college savings account administered by CollegeInvest as part of the college savings program on behalf of an eligible child.
  • HB16-1338: Under current law, the early childhood leadership commission is scheduled to repeal on September 1, 2018. The bill extends the repeal date to September 1, 2020.

Just because the legislative session is over doesn’t mean that the policy process stops! Summer and fall are busy seasons for legislators, as they meet with their constituents, attend interim commissions, prepare for elections and begin to draft bills for the upcoming session.

If you have any questions about these bills or ways to be involved in the legislative process while policymakers are out of sessions, please contact Lauren Heintz, Policy Specialist for Clayton Early leaning: lheintz@claytonearlyleanring.org.

11May/16Off

Loose Parts Lead to Big Ideas for Children

By

Candice Leary-Humphrey

Loose Parts Basics

Though architect Simon Nicholson developed the “Theory of Loose Parts” over 40 years ago in 1972, the theory and movement has recently gained new momentum as parents and educators return to natural materials and environments to support children’s learning and creativity.

For young children, loose parts are simply materials that can be moved, arranged, manipulated, stacked, carried or combined in multiple ways. Loose parts are the most effective tool for providing open-ended play opportunities where children do not use any specific set of directions or instructions for how to interact with the materials that are available. Explaining the basis of his theory, Nicholson stated, “Children learn most readily and easily in a laboratory-type environment where they can experiment, enjoy and find out things for themselves.”

Both synthetic and natural materials can be included in a loose parts collection, though the bulk of what you will typically find in a loose parts center should tend toward natural materials. Here is a list of some ideas for parts to include in an outdoor loose parts learning environment:pans

Stones and pebbles
Sticks and logs
Pine cones
Buckets
Shells
Twine or rope
Tree stumps
Tiles
Fabric
Scrap wood
Straw
Baskets

  Opportunities for Learning and Development

One thing that many commercial toys lack is the opportunity for children to look at the toy as anything but what it’s been molded and marketed as. A battery operated toy microphone, for instance, is difficult to imagine as anything else; especially when the microphone is made of plastic, plays loud sounds and has been so specifically constructed. Loose parts, on the other hand, allow children to look at an object not as what it literally is, but as something that could be nearly anything that the child can imagine.

Open-ended play and loose parts not only encourage creative thinking; but also the development of sensory awareness and the opportunity for children to discover and master their environments. The autonomy that children gain through loose parts construction and exploration will support the child in building mental flexibility and adaptability as the child uses increasingly complex problem solving skills over time.mud sculpting

What’s most remarkable about loose parts play is that it supports learning in every single learning domain; language and literacy, science, math, art, music and physical fitness. An outdoor classroom with loose parts will:

Provide children with exposure to a broader range of vocabulary
provoke the child to construct higher order inquisitions about scientific processes and concepts; like life cycles, weather patterns and nature’s interdependent structure
challenge the child to use new strategies for accomplishing physical and mental tasks independently
Encourage gross motor development through ‘heavy work;’ pushing, pulling, lifting and rolling

Where to Start

Once caregivers and educators have decided to provide loose parts play opportunities, there may be some wonder about how to choose materials and whether the children will even be interested in the ‘new toys’ that have been offered.

Gathering materials must be done thoughtfully to ensure that there are a variety of sizes, shapes, textures and materials available. Quantities of each material should reflect the number of children that will be using the loose parts, and each different category of material should have its own space or storage so that all of the materials are organized, visually appealing and accessible to the children who will use them. A disheveled pile of sticks and rocks is very difficult to imagine as construction material; a basket of stones and crate of sticks, however, are much more likely to be selected by children who want to build a fort.

Outdoor learning specialist and loose parts advocate, Patty Born Selly, encourages parents and teachers to also be patient, and remember that “Chances are, these children have become accustomed to electronic toys or action figures.” If children seem confused about how to use the loose parts that are now being offered, or do not have an automatic attraction to the materials; parents and educators can serve as guides for the child as they become familiar with the new loose parts by using prompting questions (“What does the shape of this rock remind you of?”) or by modeling how to use the loose parts themselves. Once children see how one can build a town or racetrack from sticks and differently sized stones, the students will ask questions and engage because the teacher’s behavior alone is welcoming the children to explore. Soon, the instructor’s town is a distant memory as the children have become confident with their new materials and are now constructing a playground for the ants they’ve found nearby.

To learn how Clayton Schools use loose parts and outdoor learning environments to support child development, email us at info@claytonearlylearning.org
Arlitt Playscape

13Apr/16Off

Self-Care for Caregivers: A Smart Investment

By

Candice Leary-Humphrey

Parents and caregivers sometimes hear the reminder “Don’t forget to take care of yourself;” but wonder how self-care could be a practical part of their busy lifestyles. Further, most natural caregivers are uncomfortable prioritizing themselves because it feels selfish or unproductive. In truth, self-care is an essential skill that will only enhance the caregiver’s ability to effectively support others. Without the ability to nurture one’s self physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually; caregivers are at risk for burnout, fatigue and other barriers that will drastically impact the quality of care that they can provide for others.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is the regular and ongoing way that a person actively participates in enhancing their health and quality of life. At the most basic level, self-care includes responding to your own physical and mental health needs such as illness, injury and chronic pain as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety. Caregivers who neglect their personal health are not as physically or emotionally able to effectively meet the needs of others and can risk developing much more serious health issues when personal care is neglected or postponed.

While personal health care is the foundation for an essential self-care routine, there are additional elements of self-care that must not be neglected. Social experiences, spiritual and creative practice, exercise and healthful eating habits are among the self-care basics that are most often overlooked by caregivers who falsely believe that spending time on these types of activities is selfish or indulgent. Instead, spending time with friends, attending church or participating in a book club all provide opportunities to rejuvenate the caregiver’s energy and ability to respond to the needs of others in a positive and intentional way.

Making Time for Self-Care

All kinds of caregivers can struggle with making time for self-care, though parents tend to be among the most resistant to prioritizing self-care; perhaps because their work is a 24 hour-a-day job. Regardless of the schedule, self-care can be integrated in a way that promotes the caregiver’s health and well-being while still meeting the needs of those in their care.

Find a space at home or at work where you can invest just 10 minutes in essential self care. (photo credit: madamenoire.com)

Find a space at home or at work where you can invest just 10 minutes in essential self care. (photo credit: madamenoire.com)

Small Doses Make a Big Difference

The most overwhelming myth that caregivers tell themselves is that they cannot spare any time for self-care. The truth is that every schedule can accommodate time for self-care; even if it’s only 10 minutes to meditate or write in a journal. Whether the time occurs before the caregiver’s day begins or during small blocks of down-time throughout the day; try starting with just 10 or 15 minutes for activities like walking, yoga, breathing exercises or a brief call to a friend. Even in small doses each day, intentional self-care boosts a caregiver’s energy, mood and resilience to challenging situations.

Ask For Help

Another story that caregivers tell themselves is that to ask for help would mean that the caregiver is less competent in their work or is weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. Effective caregivers know that by asking for help, they will have the support they need to overcome challenges and to maintain a positive approach to caregiving. Professional caregivers can ask colleagues for support and relief, even if it’s only a short break to take a walk outside. Personal caregivers and parents should reach out to family members and friends to ask for an hour of babysitting while they practice the activities in their self-care routine. Allowing loved ones to support self-care needs will not only provide the caregiver with personal time, it will also enhance personal relationships and model positive lifestyle habits for others; especially children.

Self-Care is a Smart Investment

When caregivers reach a point of burnout, chronic fatigue or depression, their work is no longer effective and the caregiver will need to invest a significant amount of time in self-care in order to regain the motivation, energy and general well-being that’s been lost. Instead of neglecting one’s self to the point of suffering, caregivers can integrate a regular self-care routine that only costs minutes per day and will enhance their quality of life almost immediately. Remember, self-care is not a single activity that one enjoys over the course of days, weeks or months. Instead, genuine and effective self-care is practiced daily to ensure that caregivers maintain the energy, desire, physical and mental health needed to perform such demanding work. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s the most selfless thing a caregiver can do to ensure the quality care of others.

Tell us your experiences with self-care. Do you have any ideas about easy ways to integrate self-care into caregiver routines? Share with us below!

29Dec/15Off

Data Utilization at Clayton Early Learning

Kristin Denlinger

By

Kristin Denlinger

Kristie Denlinger and Peter Blank

Data Utilization at Clayton Early Learning

While Clayton schools are supporting children and families build strong foundations through high quality care and early education, support services and community programs, the Institute at Clayton Early Learning is conducting research that extends far beyond the walls of our two schools.

The Institute conducts studies and gathers data to help prepare our students for kindergarten, ensure that our program’s needs are being met, and advocate for children at the local, state, and federal policy level.

What do you mean by data?

Child Outcomes

Children at Clayton participate in several developmentally appropriate assessments throughout the year to help us understand what specific knowledge our children have gained and how they’re learning in comparison to other children of the same age.

Since we are working with very young children, these assessments looks more like games that are fun and engaging; allowing children to demonstrate knowledge and competence through play. For example, an assessment might test for the skill of prepositions (in, on, under, etc.) by presenting a student with a series of variety of toys, then asking the child to “put the spoon in the cup.”

Teacher Data

We obtain teacher data in the form of surveys, observations, and TS Gold reports. Teachers and staff at Clayton fill out several surveys throughout the school year that provide valuable information about the culture of our classrooms and programs, such as how teachers spend their time, how they interact with parents, how they use data, etc. Teachers are also observed in their classrooms interacting with children several times a year using a standardized observational tool. After the observations, the tools are used for professional development to help teachers20150814_assessment_037-2 improve their practices and to ensure all students are having their individual academic needs met. Finally, TS Gold is the state approved assessment system we use here at Clayton where teachers can input data that demonstrates children’s competencies in areas like socio-emotional development, language development, and math skills.

Parent Data

Parents at Clayton are given an annual survey that gives us valuable information about the families that we serve.  Questions on the survey center around family events and situations such as the family moving, housing and food insecurity, activities that the parents do with the child, and the parents’ experience at Clayton.

How is data used?

Individual Level

Our child assessment data is shared with teachers with parental consent twice a year and is used to help tailor instruction to the needs of each child. For example, if a teacher is concerned about whether a child’s language comprehension skills are developing at an appropriate pace because the child is not responding to instructions, the teacher may not know if this is a behavioral issue or if the child just doesn’t understand what the teacher is saying.  If the child receives a developmentally appropriate language assessment, we can compare their comprehension skills to those of other children of the same age.

In addition to this common measure, we can also identify the specific skills that the child can or cannot yet demonstrate, such as knowledge of prepositions (on, in under, etc.). From there, the teacher not only has an objective understanding of the child’s skills but they can also adjust their practices with the child based on the skills they know, such as using more gestures with their instructions to the child in order to foster their language development.

Child assessments allow us to ensure that children aren’t slipping through the cracks or getting bored. Using data driven evidence, we can make sure that each individual child is getting the academic supports they need and that our teachers can use their resources to the child’s best advantage.

Program Level

We are able to evaluate and improve our program using the data we collect in a variety of ways, including using child and teacher data to help us evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in our curriculum and using parent and teacher surveys to evaluate the culture of the school and the biggest needs of our families.

For example, a few years ago a large group of our families reported varying degrees of food insecurity. This gave us the objective data to support our Food for Families program, which has expanded and works to provide our families with fresh produce and access to our own food pantry.

Cross-network Level

Clayton Early Learning is a part of the Educare Learning Network, a national network of early learning centers aimed at providing the highest quality comprehensive care to low income families. This network, led by the Ounce of Prevention Fund and the Buffet Early Childhood Fund, gives Clayton access to valuable resources, research, and peer learning from similar partner programs across the county.  As a member of this network, we report our own data and participate in longitudinal studies to show the effectiveness of quality early education for our children and families. This data can also be a powerful tool for local, state, and federal policy advocacy, as well as helpful in applying for grants for future research.

We are always pursuing new projects and looking to use our data in a variety of ways to advance quality early childhood education and development. For more information about Clayton Early Learning and the Educare Network, use the site links listed below and be sure to subscribe to this blog where we will provide readers with an insider’s look at various aspects of data use at Clayton!

http://www.claytonearlylearning.org/research/

http://www.educareschools.org/our-approach/educare-learning-network/

2Oct/15Off

Tools of the Trade: The Bracken School Readiness Assessment

Kristin Denlinger

By

Kristin Denlinger

Among the greatest benefits for children who attend high quality early care and education programs is access to tools and resources that will support the student’s readiness for kindergarten. Though the goal of school readiness for kindergarten bound students is clear, many families may wonder how readiness is determined and what tools are used to measure student growth and development.

Based on commonly identified academic criteria, one tool used to measure a preschool student’s development is the Bracken School Readiness Assessment. As children prepare to transition from preschool to kindergarten, the assessment is used to measure the child’s knowledge in areas including

  • Color identification
  • Letter and number recognitionresearch and evaluation
  • Counting and measurement concepts
  • Identification and comparison of shapes

Unlike traditional testing, The Bracken is considered a ‘receptive’ assessment, meaning that children only need to point to select answers and that the student is not expected to vocalize or articulate their response. The assessor must remain objective throughout the assessment, but is dually charged with supporting the child in maintaining focus or engagement and must also anticipate distractions, boredom and other factors unique to working with young children.

Early education professionals must complete a comprehensive training program before they are considered qualified and reliable to administer The Bracken Assessment. This training provides instruction in objectivity, strategies for observing young students and practice in accommodating unexpected factors that include behavioral and environmental challenges.

This fall, teachers and other ECE professionals throughout Colorado will participate in assessor training in order to effectively implement assessment, like The Bracken, into high quality early education programs.

Concurrently, many preschool children will be assessed by qualified educators who will use The Bracken School Readiness Assessment. Those same students will be assessed once more in the spring for the purpose of objective growth measurement over the course of the school year. Both rounds of assessment will produce data that is used to gauge the child’s comprehension so that schools and families can develop individualized instruction strategies for the student as they prepare to transition from preschool to kindergarten.

For more information about The Bracken School Readiness Assessment and other tools used to track early childhood development,

contact Kristie Denlinger of the Clayton Early Learning Research & Evaluation Team kdenlinger@claytonearlylearning.org.

 

30Jun/15Off

State Advocates Come Together for Early Education Policy

Lauren Heintz

Posted by Lauren Heintz

By

Lauren Heintz

Last week in Chicago, over 60 early childhood state advocates from 17 states gathered for the 2015 Policy Exchange meeting sponsored by the Ounce of Prevention Fund.  This annual meeting brings together state based advocates, national organizations, state government officials, researchers, academics and programmatic leaders to discuss the current early childhood policy challenges and opportunities in their states and learn from one another. Though each state is working in a different context of government, funding, and culture, commonalities can be found across the country in early childhood priority issues.

This year’s conference focused primarily on the reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which was passed by Congress in 2014. CCDBG is the main funding source for many states’ child care assistance programs, including Colorado’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP). In order for states to receive CCDBG funding, their state officials must submit a state plan that outlines how the funds will be used, who will be involved, and how the funded programs will be evaluated. The legislation that Congress passed last year made several changes to the requirements for state plans, including:

  • More of a focus on ensuring quality in child care programs and increased funding requirements for quality initiatives
  • Easier public access to information about child care, especially on consumer websites
  • Increased requirements for the health and safety of child care programs, including disaster preparedness plans
  • Increasing access for vulnerable populations to child care, with a particular focus on children with disabilities and homeless children
  • More supports for families receiving child care assistance, including a 12 month eligibility re-determination, allowing at least 3 months of assistance during a parent’s job search, and providing graduated phase out assistance to families that have increased their income

Other policy priorities that advocates from across the country discussed at the Policy Exchange included continuity of child care, mental health and social/emotional development, policy innovations in Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, funding for early childhood, marketing and communications messaging, and alignment between early childhood and the K-12 system.

The Policy Exchange also gives a chance for states to highlight their successes from the past year. Some of the policy gains for early childhood from across the states included:

  • California’s legislature and governor reached a budget agreement that added 7,000 preschool slots and 6,800 child care slots in the state, totaling nearly $400 million in new investments
  • Louisiana passed legislation requiring the Department of Education to find funding sources to increase early childhood care and education by $80 million
  • The Education Committee in Maine requested the Maine’s Children’s Growth Council, Maine Children’s Alliance, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, and the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University to gather more detailed information on the social emotional development of children and develop appropriate policy recommendations for the legislature
  • Nebraska passed legislation which will allow a family to receive transitional child care assistance if an increase in family income puts them over the limits to receive assistance
  • Oklahoma’s legislature passed several bills to promote early learning and literacy for children through 3rd grade
  • The Washington Legislature is considering in special session the bipartisan Early Start Act to help parents find care and learning opportunities that are tailored for their children, enhance school readiness, and support providers to provide high-quality care that is culturally and linguistically responsive to the needs of young learners and their families

Image via Ounce of Prevention Fund website.

 

To find out more about the Ounce of Prevention Fund and the annual Policy Exchange, please visit http://www.theounce.org/involved/events/policy-exchange-meeting.

 

 

21May/15Off

CCAP Increases Access to High Quality Care for Families

Lauren Heintz

Posted by Lauren Heintz

By

Lauren Heintz

CCAP Overview

For working families, having access to high quality child care is critically important to support parents as they look for jobs, advance their careers and education, and move toward financial stability. The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program provides assistance to these working families in our state so that a lack of quality child care does not prevent a family from achieving economic self-sufficiency. Funded through a mix of federal, state and local funds, as well as through some parent fees, CCCAP offers financial support for child care to families through country departments of social and human services with oversight from the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Steps in the Right Direction

During the 2014 state legislative session, several bills passed into law that enacted comprehensive reforms to CCCAP, including House Bill 14-1317 and Senate Bill 14-003. These changes aimed to improve CCCAP so that not only was it more accessible and helpful to the families that receive the assistance, but also to make CCCAP an easier program to interact with for the state department, counties, and providers that accept CCCAP recipients. Some of the major changes include:

  • Reducing parent co-payments for those at 100 percent of the federal poverty level
  • Broadening of activities for families to be eligible for CCCAP, including two years of postsecondary education and an extension of a job search period to 60 days
  • Streamlining the eligibility and redetermination processes
  • Mitigating the “cliff effect” , when families become ineligible for CCCAP due to an increase in income that does not cover the increased cost of child care, through county pilot programs
  • Allowing CCCAP children to get care outside of the exact hours of a parent’s work schedule to allow for greater flexibility
  • Tiered reimbursement for providers that accept CCCAP children based on quality ratings in the new state quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) Colorado Shines
  • A statewide market rate study to determine the cost of care by county as well as a statewide equal access study to identify the gaps and needs for child care

Want to Learn More?Catepillar_logo_final_new

To learn more about the history behind these changes, the specific reforms from HB14-1317 and SB14-003, and how to get involved with the implementation, tune in to the Buell Leaders podcast “From State Legislation to Local Action: the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program” at this link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/buellleadersradio/2015/05/13/from-state-legislation-to-local-action-the-co-child-care-assistance-program

16Dec/14Off

An Exciting Partnership: Clayton Early Learning and the Denver Preschool Program

Peter Blank

Posted by Peter Blank

By

Peter Blank

As you may recall, the Denver Preschool Program (DPP) made the news this past election season, as voters were presented with a ballot initiative to slightly increase the Denver Preschool tax, which has funded the program since 2006.  The measure passed, with 55.28%[1] of voters choosing to have DPP continue providing high quality preschool for Denver families through 2026.

DPP encourages families to enroll their children in preschool by providing tuition credits to parents to offset the cost of preschool.  DPP also works to provide resources, such as professional development opportunities, and quality measures to participating preschool programs that serve Denver’s children.

What may not have been highlighted in the news, is Clayton Early Learning’s role in the assessment and evaluation of the Denver Preschool Program over the last six years.  The Clayton Early Learning Institute (Clayton) has collaborated with Augenblick, Palaich and Associates since the 2007-2008 program year to deliver high quality evaluation of the program, specifically related to the development of children enrolled in DPP.

In the second year of DPP’s existence (2008), Clayton developed an evaluation to look at how effective the program was in a variety of areas related to the development of participating children. This evaluation was designed to look at important questions about DPP such as, but not limited to, what extent participating children progress in their language, literacy, mathematics, and social-emotional development and to what extent enrolled children are prepared for kindergarten.  Having completed its seventh year of this evaluation, Clayton can now not only look at current participants in DPP, but past participants as well.  Clayton is able to compare past DPP participants to other students of the same grade level, providing important longitudinal data related to school readiness and school success, and how they relate to DPP.

The Research and Evaluation Team at Clayton randomly selects 200 families enrolled in DPP to participate in the study each year. Family participation is completely voluntary.  The team focuses on collecting data from two sources: child assessments and parent surveys.  The team uses standardized assessments that focus on math, pre-literacy, and language skills, and are able to deliver them in both English and Spanish.  The results of the evaluation are analyzed and compiled in a report that is then shared with the staff at the Denver Preschool Program.  These annual reports and data have helped highlight the success of DPP over the years.

This continued partnership with the Denver Preschool Program is just another example of how Clayton Early Learning is using its vast and varied talents to help shape the important field of Early Childhood Education right here in Denver.

For more information on the Denver Preschool Program you can visit their website at http://www.dpp.org.

For more information on the Clayton Early Learning Institute’s work with the DPP evaluation you can contact Caroline Ponce at CPonce@claytonearlylearning.org or (303) 355-4411 x252.



[1]Denver (2014, November). Denver Election Results. Retrieved from City and County of Denver: https://www.denvergov.org/electionresults

 

 

17Dec/13Off

Culture Night at Clayton Early Learning Schools

By

Kelsy Petersen-Hardie

It is that time of year again for Culture Night, a special night that gives the schools of Clayton Early Learning a chance to celebrate culture in a meaningful way with staff, families, young children, and community members.  Each year we strive to offer an experience that is not only fun, but one that provides opportunities for young children and their caring adults to learn about and reflect on their own culture, as well as a chance to come together to celebrate as a community.  This year the planning committee got excited about delving deeper into an aspect of culture that all groups share.  Families and staff voted for their favorite cultural element from a long list of topics and music was nominated as the focus this year.

In reflecting on what music means from my cultural lens, I had visions of my facabinmily gathered together listening to old country western records as my grandpa took turns dancing the grandchildren all around the living room of my family’s cabin, a crackling fire in the background.  Images of practicing my violin and choreographing dance moves to Paula Abdul flooded my mind.  Music played a part in all special events I can recollect, like weddings, parties, and funerals.

When we talk about culture from a theoretical perspective, we lose children and adults alike. Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t have a culture” or “I don’t know what my culture is”?  Culture is experienced every moment of every day, but we don’t necessarily recognize that we are living it because we are IN it.

I wanted to understand culture from my six year old daughter’s perspective so I asked her what she thinks about when she thinks of music.  She then gave me a laundry list of what music means from her cultural lens:  music as a school special, old country western records like Johnny Cash (that’s my girl!), music that people dance to, music from the Nutcracker, the rhythm and beats of jazz (she then proceeded to demonstrate the different tempos of jazz, illustrating the different lengths of notes with her stuffed animal collection).  There you have it, from the eyes of a young child.  Culture is lived.  Culture comes from experiences.  Culture is shared among people.  The special people in our lives touch us with these experiences, forever shaping our cultural lens.

What musical memories made the biggest impact on your life? What do you think about when you think of music’s impact in your family?

We hope you will join us at Clayton Early Learning’s Culture Night as we share the musical cultures of our staff, families and community, as well as engage in experiences that create new cultural memories among our children and our learning community.

Culture Night 2013:

Join us for an evening of celebrating culture through music as you mingle throughout the rooms, experiencing the movement, sights, and sounds of our School Family!

Tuesday, 12/17 from 5:30-7:00 P.M. at the Far Northeast Campus

Thursday, 12/19 from 5:30-7:00 P.M. at the Near Northeast Campus

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Would you like to join our Blog conversation? How do you celebrate culture in your community? If so, you can leave your statement in the Comment section at the bottom of this blog.