This week, Children’s Alliance takes a stand for kids and racial equity by endorsing state ballot measure Initiative 502. In other state news, a new report shows that child hunger has spiked faster than surrounding states as deep food stamp cuts are considered at the federal level, and the Governor is recognized for her achievements in early learning during her eight-year term. Last week, early learning advocates awarded Rep. Bruce Dammeier and Sens. Mike Carrell and Debbie Regala Crayon Awards for their outstanding work on early learning in Washington. And finally, one elder advocate says Washington needs a new licensed dental practitioner to extend quality dental care to underserved seniors and families.
Pam Oliver of Everett has been a daily advocate for her five-year-old son, Steve Jr., since he was born prematurely at 25 weeks weighing just over 3 pounds.
“Having a medically fragile son, I had a lot to say, but wasn’t sure how to say it and whom to say it to,” remembers Pam.
She got some concrete answers when she attended Advocacy Camp last year, where she took an interactive workshop on state government. This gave her an in-depth look at the legislative process and opportunities to ask detailed questions. Before this, says Pam, “I did not know that the average person could have a say in legislative issues.”
Kylee Allen of Oak Harbor knows how effective advocacy can create better opportunities for kids. Her eldest daughter Delaney, now 10, is a living testament to how Head Start can set a strong foundation for success in K-12.
"Delaney, who had a severe speech delay, found the confidence she needed to speak up for herself,” says Kylee. “All my children are ‘A’ students and avid readers. These are skills that we learned together while at Head Start.”
Kylee attended Advocacy Camp in 2010, where she had the opportunity to build her skills and strengthen her connections to better speak up for all kids in Washington state. She learned how to get her voice heard in the media, share her values effectively with others, and better navigate the Washington State Legislature, she says.
A Thurston County business leader expands on the future economic benefits of early learning investments, and a new state budget analysis finds that extending the two-thirds majority vote in the State Legislature would harm kids while hindering economic recovery. While high school graduation rates in the state have improved overall, students of color experience disproportionately higher dropout rates. This fall, federal nutrition guidelines will fortify school meals in King County. And a distinguished community leader and former school board member of Seattle schools comes out for kids as marriage equality in Washington hinges on the vote to approve Referendum 74.
Members of Congress are home for the summer, meeting with constituents, learning more about issues in their districts and preparing for the November election. They get back to D.C. in early September, just a few days after Washington’s school kids head to the classroom.
Then, Congress will resume the debate about our national priorities – a debate that very directly concerns every Washington child who’s entering a classroom for the first time.
The first five years of life have a deep and durable influence on the rest – they’re the time when the fundamental architecture of the mind is built. Our public resources for the very young– from Early Head Start to Head Start to child care funds – affect children’s ability to spend their early years in enriching environments that serve them well in school and in life.
A wealth of data shows that these programs close the opportunity gap. Parents have seen that they work. Many lawmakers know that without them, we’ll neither lower spending nor create broadly shared prosperity. And yet they’re under threat.