In this edition, you’ll read about two Central Washington lawmakers who received Crayon Awards for being early learning champions; the awards were presented through the Early Learning Action Alliance, which is convened by the Children’s Alliance. You’ll also find personal testimony about the power of early intervention to prevent child abuse and reduce future violence; and you’ll hear about Initiatives 1053, 1100, and 1107. Along with 1098, the outcome of these initiatives will play a pivotal role in determining our state’s ability to invest in kids and families.
Two local state representatives were recently recognized as champions of early learning in the state. Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, and Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-College Place, were recognized as Silver Crayon Recipients during a reception Aug. 31 at the Child Development Center of the Washington State Migrant Council in College Place. Haler and Walsh were chosen for their continued support of early learning programs throughout the region.
Every August, I mark an anniversary. But it's not something I celebrate. Twenty-nine years ago, I was shot three times in the left chest at point blank range with a .357-caliber magnum and left for dead. The smartest and most cost-effective way to break the cycle of violence is to prevent children from being abused or neglected in the first place. Research shows that among the most effective approaches are intensive home-visiting programs that pair experienced nurses with new parents.
The national soft-drink industry put another $4.2 million into the Initiative 1107 campaign last week, raising its ante to $14.4 million for the tax-rollback measure. But opponents funded by labor and health care groups say the I-1107 campaign is the most misleading and deceptive the state has seen in years – falsely implying the debate is over taxes on food. Spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said the food-related taxes are small – including a temporary, 2-cents-per-can tax on soda pop and fall mostly on non-essential items – and pay for health care, education and services needed by the elderly. “I think this reinforces what we’ve been saying all along – that it’s clear the beverage association understands that in an equal debate, they would lose. So they’ve decided to try to buy the election with extraordinary record amounts of cash,” Kaushik said. Read more:
If either of the dueling initiatives to privatize liquor sales passes in the November election, already struggling local government budgets will take a substantial hit. The city of Yakima, for example, stands to lose from $700,000 to $1.1 million a year in profit-sharing revenues and taxes depending on what voters approve. Yakima County stands to lose as much as $450,000.
More electoral perspectives:
More students in the Snohomish School District are using the free or reduced lunch program, an impact stemming from the downturned economy. The program provides lunch and breakfast for free or at reduced cost, depending on the income level of a student’s family. It is largely paid for using federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In the 2009-2010 school year, 2,000 students — 20 percent of the district — participated in the program. That is up about 350 students from the 2008-2009 school year. Figures show 1,645 students — 17 percent of the district’s students — participated.
If it hadn't been for a dental referral from Head Start three years ago, Nicole Eveland's little boy likely would have lost his back molars to tooth decay, causing dental and health problems that may last for the rest of his life. Through Head Start, Eveland enrolled Siaosi, now 5, in the state's Access to Baby and Child Dentistry, a program designed to hook up Medicaid kids with local dentists trained to treat infants and young children. Though the program has been in place in the state since 1995 and in Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties since 2007, it has recently drawn national attention from the Pew Research Center, a non-partisan institute for polling and policy studies based in Washington, D.C. After more than a year of study, Pew released a favorable report on ABCD last month.
Washington's new statewide early learning plan will help give more children that great start in life and school. Released this week, the plan is the roadmap for building a comprehensive early learning system in Washington over the next decade. It's designed to better coordinate all of the great work already happening for children and families and guide policy, funding and ongoing work by organizations and agencies. And it shows how we all make a difference in the lives of children.