In this edition, you’ll find an editorial supporting our call to Congress to re-authorize the Child Nutrition Act and make sure that thousands of kids who qualify for free or reduced-price meals during the school year don’t go hungry during the summer. You’ll also read two pieces about early learning opportunities for infants and toddlers in our state: a new United Way of King County campaign in support of home visiting and new Early Head Start slots in southwest Washington.
Summer is fast approaching, and for too many children that
only a break from schoolwork but also from regular meals. When school
lets out, children who qualify for free or reduced-cost breakfasts and
lunch will miss out out on what for many of them may be the most
nutritious meals they get. Streamlining the application process for
obtaining funding for summer meals is one goal for anti-hunger advocates
as they work toward congressional re-authorization and updating of the
federal Child Nutrition Act in coming weeks. It’s a goal the state’s
delegation should support.
The United Way of King County is stepping in to do something
about kids who arrive at school underprepared. Not high-school graduates
starting college without the basics of grammar. Think much younger:
kids who show up to kindergarten up to two years behind academically.
Based on research showing how well children learn the younger they are
the Parent-Child Home Program's method is simple: "Home visitors" see a
child for 30 minutes twice a week for two years with a book and a toy.
The children develop skills from doing and the parents learn skills from
Sixty Longview families will participate in a new program
starting July 6 called Early Head Start, which will provide
early-childhood education to families with infants or pregnant mothers.
Early Head Start will target low-income homes — including
those in which parents struggle with substance abuse or domestic
violence — to help parents better tune in to infants' needs. The program
will potentially give Head Start an additional three years with
students, Junker said. Head Start, a generally acclaimed federal program
that works with disadvantaged youngsters, traditionally serves students
ages 3 to 5.
With an election looming, Democrats are telling voters back
home that they had to raise taxes to prevent even deeper spending cuts
than the billions of dollars they chopped over the past two years. If
voters repeal the new taxes, the Gov. Chris Gregoire told reporters last
week, it will mean fewer services such as all-day kindergarten,
preschool for 3-year-olds and maternity care for poor mothers.
School will end in the next few weeks and roughly 75 percent of
students will not attend summer learning programs, creating a potential
brain drain that could drag down achievement when classes start in the
fall, a new report says. This widespread brain drain doesn’t affect just
K-12 students. It raises an important question for the early learning
community. As the federal government and states work to build quality
pre-kindergarten systems, how important is it to continue these programs
over the summer?
Reading is a fundamental skill and gateway to academic
achievement. Everyone knows what works and thus Washington has supported
early-learning and full-day kindergarten as building blocks to stronger
reading skills. Early-grade reading initiatives and support for higher
grades are on the rise in most school districts. More is needed. A
renewed emphasis on early acquisition of reading skills ought to
coincide with Congress' move to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind
Cash for new parents. A tax rebate for the poor. When these
programs were passed by the Washington state Legislature a few years
ago, Democrats lauded the new laws as opportunities to pump much-needed
money into working-class homes. Both were supposed to start doling out
cash last fall. But no one in Washington state has seen a dime, and they
likely won’t anytime soon.