In this edition, child advocates introduce an early learning bill in the State Legislature to increase quality and equity of learning before kindergarten, as families face cuts to Working Connections Child Care. In the national press, food stamps are as pro-equality as they are anti-hunger, and the marriage equality bill for Washington families is discussed across the country.
Bill introduced to prioritize early learning | League of Education Voters blog | 01-18-2012
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would establish universal voluntary early learning for 3- and 4- year olds in Washington. HB 2448 would also focus on birth to three programs. Despite the state’s tough economic situation, there have been highlights in early learning. Many people now recognize that investment in high-quality early learning pays great dividends.
Letter: Early learning is the key to success in life | The Olympian | 01-18-2012
Quality components – skilled teachers, smaller class sizes and strong parental involvement – are significant drivers of the long-term outcomes from early learning investments that our economy needs.
With Bill, Washington State Shifts Its Views on Marriage | The New York Times | 01-17-2012
What is also striking is that some of the legislators sponsoring the measure can recall earlier debates — held years ago and sometimes only internally — in which they were certain they would oppose such a law. “I was a no,” recalled Senator Rosemary McAuliffe, a Democrat from the Seattle suburb of Bothell, and now a sponsor. But that was back in the 1990s, when Ms. McAuliffe said an early version of a marriage bill circulated in the Legislature. Over time, the senator said, “I met the families, I met the children of those families, and I had the realization that it is our responsibility to protect all of our citizens against discrimination.”
Senator visits Bremerton school to study early learning program | Kitsap Sun | 01-17-2012
Sen. Patty Murray visited [the Naval Avenue Early Learning Center] to learn more about the programs, toured a half-dozen classes — and was coaxed to join in a little P.E. pirate play — before sitting down to briefly talk with teachers, parents and district administrators. ... Last year was the first that early learning programs were eligible for Race to the Top grants. Washington state was awarded $60 million, most of which was slated for improving private preschool programs and assessing incoming kindergarteners. Murray will use Tuesday's conversation in discussions this year about reforming the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which includes No Child Left Behind.
Dems introduce capital gains tax bill in Olympia | The Stranger (Slog) | 01-17-2012
It would take an important step toward flattening our sales-tax-heavy most-regressive-in-the-nation tax structure, while generating desperately needed new revenue.
Your child care assistance may be cut | KIMA TV - CBS 29 | 01-12-2012
Mayra Chavez works full time during the week and goes to college on the weekend. She's studying to become a nurse to provide a better future for her daughter. Chavez says she wouldn't be able to do this without help from Working Connections Child Care Program. It assists low income families with the cost of child care. However, it's the target of the budget ax -- amounting to $50 million in cuts. Thousands of families would be affected. "If the assistance was taken off I would pretty much be just working and not able to get a better education for my daughter and for myself," Chavez said.
Food stamps a necessary lifeline | CNN | 01-19-2012
The recent growth in SNAP enrollment and spending because of the sluggish economy is temporary. One of SNAP's great strengths is its ability to respond, quickly and automatically, to changes in the economy: Enrollment grows during downturns but contracts during periods of economic growth. ... A weak economy has swelled the numbers of unemployed workers and poor families. That's a serious problem that our policymakers need to address. In the meantime, SNAP helps protect the most vulnerable from very difficult circumstances.
Joel Berg: Racism, Dr. King, and Food Stamps | The Huffington Post | 01-16-2012
Not coincidentally, Dr. Martin Luther King, responding to near-starvation conditions found in parts of the U.S., viewed access to food as a civil rights issue … While conventional history today tells us that the Poor People's Campaign petered out after King's death … that's not entirely true. In the years following the movement's encampment on the Mall, the president and Congress jointly expanded the Food Stamp Program and federal summer meals programs for children from relatively small pilot projects into massive programs, and created the National School Breakfast Program and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program that provided nutrition supplements to low-income pregnant woman and their small children. These expansions succeeded spectacularly in achieving their main goal: ending starvation conditions in America.
States cut child care aid for families | CNN.com | 01-14-2012
As federal stimulus funds dried up and states continue to face budget shortfalls, child care assistance programs suffer. Parents in 37 states had less access to aid in 2011 than the year before, according the National Women's Law Center, and that negative trend continues. "We don't help enough families, we don't give families enough help, and we don't provide enough support to the child care programs for some of our poorest children so that they can give them the strong they need to be ready for school," says Helen Blank from the National Women's Law Center. ... "We can't be a strong country if we don't invest in early childhood."