SEATTLE—The Children’s Alliance, a Washington state-based advocacy organization dedicated to improving the well-being of children by effecting positive changes in public policies, priorities, and programs, yesterday announced two upcoming leadership transitions.
Deputy director Jon Gould will leave his position at the end of September. Gould has served Children’s Alliance for 22 years. Paola Maranan, executive director since 2004, will leave her position at the end of May 2020. Maranan has served Children’s Alliance for 26 years.
Washington voters support the Legislature authorizing dental therapy this year, according to a statewide poll released today by the Washington Dental Access Campaign.
The state legislature is currently considering House Bill 1317, a measure that would allow dental therapists to practice and be trained in Washington state.
The poll, conducted by Patinkin Research Strategies March 7-11, shows 62 percent of Washington voters in support of dental therapy to provide routine, preventive oral health care.
MEDIA ADVISORY: Monday, March 11, 2019
Download a copy (PDF).
WHAT: Parents, children and community leaders will gather for Strolling Thunder, a march and rally to urge the legislature to advance policies and investments for babies and their parents.
WHEN: Thursday, March 14, 2019, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Washington ranks as a top state for babies, according to a report released today by early childhood development nonprofit ZERO TO THREE and children’s research organization Child Trends. The State of Babies Yearbook: 2019 is a first-of-its-kind resource that looks holistically at the well-being of America’s babies, providing a national snapshot and comparisons across states. The Yearbook compiles nearly 60 indicators—specifically for children ages 0 to 3—to measure progress across three policy areas: Good Health, Strong Families, and Positive Early Learning Experiences.
OLYMPIA—Legislators have a solution to Washington state’s shortage of oral health providers: authorize dental therapists to work all across the state.
For too many Washington families, timely and routine oral health care is out of reach. In 37 out of the state’s 39 counties, too few dental professionals are meeting local needs.
PARA MÁS INFORMACIÓN:
Sarah Sumadi, OneAmerica, (206) 723-2203 x226
Malou Chávez, Proyecto de los Derechos del Inmigrante, (206) 957-8633
Eric Holzapfel, Entre Hermanos, (206) 486-9755
SEATTLE— Personas que pueden verse afectadas por la regla de "carga pública" propuesta por Trump deben continuar participando en programas cruciales de salud, vivienda y nutrición, dice un grupo de defensores, abogados de inmigración y proveedores de servicios sociales llamados la coalición de Protección de Familias Inmigrantes – Washington.
SEATTLE, Wash. — The Protecting Immigrant Families – Washington coalition condemns new regulations proposed by the Trump administration that would effectively impose an income test on family-based immigration and scare millions of families away from crucial health, housing and nutrition assistance.
WHAT: Local advocates and officials will describe the harmful impact of the Trump Administration’s proposed public charge regulation effectively limiting immigration based on income.
WHEN: Tuesday, September 25, 2018, 11 a.m.
Each of the lawmakers partnered with the Children’s Alliance to ensure the passage of Senate Bill 5683, which advances family and community health by making affordable full-family coverage possible for thousands of Asian and Pacific Islander Washingtonians.
2017 Race for Results report recommends how policymakers can ease fears, lower barriers for immigrant communities and children of color
Six state legislators were honored for their commitment to the first five years of a child’s life on Saturday, Sept. 17 , with Crayon Awards from the Early Learning Action Alliance.
The awards were presented to Senators Joe Fain (R-47th) and Steve Litzow (R-41st) and Representatives Chad Magendanz (R-5th), Ruth Kagi (D-32nd), Eric Pettigrew (D-37th) and Tana Senn (D-41st) at Green River College by representatives of the Early Learning Action Alliance.
SEATTLE – Kids and families in Washington state have made some progress in the face of poverty rates that have yet to improve, according to the new national 2016 KIDS COUNT® Data Book from the Annie. E. Casey Foundation.
ADVISORY: Have a Heart for Kids Day brings kids, parents, advocates to Olympia to protect children and families
OLYMPIA—House Bill 1421, co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Dungeness), would create new dental therapists to provide urgently needed dental services on the Olympic Peninsula and in other areas across the state where oral health care is hard to get.
Siobhan Ring, Mobilization Director, Children’s Alliance, (206) 851-6475; firstname.lastname@example.org
Joaquin Uy, Communications Specialist, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, (206) 427-2999; email@example.com
Charlie McAteer, Communications Consultant, Columbia Legal Services, (917) 696-1321, firstname.lastname@example.org
For Immediate Release
MON., AUG. 4, 2014 — Advocates for children and families have filed an Amicus Curiae brief with the state Supreme Court, opposing one of the Court’s proposed remedies in the McCleary v. Washington case.
The Children’s Alliance, Columbia Legal Services and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance filed the brief this morning. The brief requests that, as the state moves to comply with the Court’s ruling, it refrain from funding education in a way that jeopardizes housing and other basic services to children and families.
“If we cut social programs to pay for education, everyone’s worse off,” says Paola Maranan, executive director of the Children’s Alliance. “In addressing our failure to uphold kids’ right to a basic education, we don’t want the solution to exacerbate the problem.”
Gov. Jay Inslee has announced that he’ll protect Washington families from new, harmful cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).
The Governor will adjust the state’s utility-assistance payments to certain eligible households from $1 to $20.01, ensuring that thousands of families get the food assistance they need to feed their children.
Today’s release of the KIDS COUNT® policy report, Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, unveils the new Race for Results index, which compares how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups at the national and state levels. The data can better inform policymakers who create policies and programs that can benefit all children, while targeting strategies and investments where attention is needed most.
Eight school districts across Washington state have earned honors for serving more students the first meal of the day: breakfast.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, the Washington State Dairy Council, and the non-profit advocacy group for kids the Children’s Alliance are recognizing the school districts with gold, silver and bronze awards and cash prizes of $500-$1,500. The Dairy Council provided funds for the awards, and for colorful award banners to hang in local schools.
Seventy-one community based organizations from across the state have joined together to call for full restoration of State Food Assistance for Washington children, elders, and families.
The organizations, representing people in communities of color and anti-hunger organizations like food banks, are asking state legislators to restore full funding to State Food Assistance, a crucial form of food support for children in immigrant families.
Apple Health for Kids, Washington’s health coverage program for children, has won $7.84 million from the federal government for connecting more children to health care. Read our press release about the bonus award.
New national data shows that state and federal policies fail to connect thousands of Washington children to the opportunities they need for success in school and in life.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s latest KIDS COUNT policy report, “The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success,” presents a strong case for investing in the early years of a child's life.
On November 1, more than 1.1 million people in low-income families in Washington state will see their food assistance benefits cut, when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) expires. Read our joint press release with the Washington State Budget & Policy Center.
The prevalence of hunger in Washington state that appeared during the worst of times remains unchanged, according to data released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Today, KIDS COUNT in Washington releases a new report, “The State of Washington’s Children 2013: Good Data for a Strong Future.”
“The State of Washington’s Children 2013” describes how Washington’s children fare in education, health care, and basic needs. It also shares the perspectives of leaders in communities of color to help us understand what this data means for families all across the state.
A majority of the Washington State Senate, 25 of 49 state senators, have voiced their support to restore food assistance to thousands of hungry children. Read our press release.
TUES., FEB. 19 – Leaders from the faith community, charitable organizations and community groups this week are calling on state leaders to fight childhood hunger by restoring a harmful cut to State Food Assistance. Read the press release.
The House Health Care & Wellness Committee is holding a public hearing on an innovative solution to the lack of timely, preventive oral health care faced by children and families across Washington. Learn more.
Please join us for a special media opportunity:
* Rally featuring Gov. Jay Inslee * Sign-waving marchers of all ages *
12:30-1 p.m., Wed., Jan. 30, Have a Heart for Kids Day on the Capitol Steps, Olympia. Click here for march details, a route map and more information.
FRI., DEC. 21, 2012 – Apple Health for Kids, Washington’s health coverage program for children, has won $12 million from the federal government for connecting more children to health care.
The Obama Administration awarded the money, a performance bonus, to Washington on Wednesday. Our state was among 23 states nationwide to earn bonuses for getting more children enrolled in health coverage.
SEATTLE — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn visits Dearborn Park Elementary on Friday morning to honor its staff with a Super School award.
The award comes as part of the Fuel Up First with Breakfast Challenge, which has inspired school leaders across the state to serve healthy breakfasts to more students.
“A nutritious breakfast calms rumbling stomachs and focuses young minds,” Dorn says. “The Fuel Up First with Breakfast Challenge helps make sure kids are ready to learn when the school day begins.”
Data released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicates that the lingering effects of the recession have pulled 75,000 more Washingtonians into hunger. Read the full press release.
Tacoma (Thursday, August 30, 2012) – First 5 FUNdamentals and the Early Learning Action Alliance are proud to recognize Sen. Mike Carrell (28th – Lakewood), Sen. Debbie Regala (27th – Tacoma) and Rep. Bruce Dammeier (25th – Puyallup) for their outstanding work in helping more children access early learning opportunities. Next Wednesday, Sept. 5, each will be presented with a Crayon Award.
The Children’s Alliance is recognizing 12 state legislators for protecting kids in the 2012 legislative sessions.
The Champion for Children award is the highest honor that the Children’s Alliance can give to a legislator.
New national rankings of child well-being show that Washington’s kids have been hurt by hard times.
Washington ranks 18th out of all 50 states in the new KIDS COUNT Data Book, a detailed look at 16 indicators of child well-being grouped into four domains: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community.
The Data Book presents the most recent trends for kids in Washington and across the country, starting before the recession began and ending with the most recent year of available data. Read the KIDS COUNT in Washington press release.
HCCY Media Release: U.S. Supreme Court clears way for a healthier, more equitable Washington for our kids
(June 28, 2012) Release from Health Coalition for Children and Youth
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today preserving the Affordable Care Act clears the way for us to move forward with implementation of this historic law. Our state must take this opportunity and make the best possible choices for children and families to ensure that more Washingtonians have access to quality, affordable healthcare and coverage.
Read the full press release for our analysis and multiple media contacts.
(June 11, 2012) - At its annual luncheon on June 7, the Children’s Alliance presented awards to three outstanding advocates who have worked to improve the lives of children and families in Washington state.
Read the full press release.
For Have a Heart for Kids Day, hundreds of adults and children are coming from all over the state to tell lawmakers to “Protect Kids, Protect Our Future!”
Read our press advisory.
Wednesday, November 30 – The first week of Special Session will have a memorable closing day on Friday in Olympia, when hundreds of kids, parents, and advocates stand together at Children’s Alliance’s Have a Heart for Kids Day: 2011 Special Session. This will culminate in a rally with parent and youth speakers, and a Proclamation by the Children of Washington released and delivered to legislators.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2011 – A report released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that the recession made a deep mark on Washington’s families. The number of hungry households in the state shot up nearly 100 percent from 2008 to the end of 2010; Washington state now ranks as the 11th hungriest state in the nation.
Read this release in English.
Monday, July 25, 2011 — Children’s Alliance is proud to announce continued support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for a multi-year effort to level the playing field for kids’ access to quality, affordable dental care in Washington state. Read the full press release.
At the end of a difficult legislative session, child advocates have walked away with a major accomplishment. The successful Apple Health for Kids health coverage program will stay open to all eligible children.
Kids, advocates and medical professionals this morning announced $80 million in federal revenue the state is expected to receive in recognition of Apple Health for Kids.
This federal money provides a sensible way to provide health coverage for all eligible children and avoid any unnecessary reductions.
“We have what it takes to continue Apple Health for Kids,” said Jon Gould, deputy director of the Children’s Alliance. Read more.
Lea esta reporte en Espanol.
Feb. 23, 2011 – Today, the Children’s Alliance announces its receipt of a $120,000 grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation under the Foundation’s Insuring America’s Children: Getting to the Finish Line initiative.
This grant coincides with the two-year anniversary of the reauthorization of the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and will support the Children’s Alliance in its work to advance policies and best practices that can help cover Washington children.
Have a Heart for Kids Day convenes hundreds of parents, youth, and children’s advocates from all over Washington to protect Apple Health for Kids, child care, and food assistance for Washington’s hungry families; we’ll advocate to raise revenue for the shared economic prosperity of all Washingtonians. We’re asking lawmakers to stand strong with Washington’s children and families this legislative session.
House Bill 1310 would bring a time-tested response to oral health care problems among Washingtonians of all ages: a dental therapist, a new mid-level oral health provider that enhances the work of dentists.
The bill is getting a hearing before the House Health Care and Wellness Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 8 a.m. in the John L. O’Brien Building, House Hearing Room B.
Today the Department of Social and Health Services stops the payment of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to more than 5,000 families raising approximately 10,000 children across the state.
“Today is a sad day for the state of Washington,” says Children’s Alliance Deputy Director Jon Gould. “The recession has already pushed 40,000 of Washington’s children into poverty. Now, one of the public structures that helps families survive hard times is being dismantled when it is needed most.”
A day after our state's health coverage program, Apple Health for Kids,
was awarded $17.6 million in federal money, deputy director Jon Gould
spoke on KOMO Newsradio on Apple Health's progress in covering all kids.
(Monday, Dec. 27, 2010) — Apple Health for Kids, Washington’s health coverage program for children, has won $17.6 million from the federal government − a timely windfall that could prevent thousands of children from losing their health coverage.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services awarded the money, a performance bonus, to Washington and 14 other states with health coverage programs that are doing outstanding work to enroll eligible children.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2010 – The Children’s Alliance is leading an effort for underserved families to gain greater access to oral health care in Washington state, through a new kind of oral health care professional called a dental therapist.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2010 – A report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that hunger in Washington is taking a higher toll on families in 2009 than in previous years. Since the economic recession took root in the state in 2008, the number of Washington families struggling to put food on the table has spiked.
The number of Washington households that are food insecure, meaning they struggle to afford enough nutritious food, rose from 288,000 to 367,000 in 2009, a 27 percent increase over the prior year. The rise in households that are hungry was even more striking: 152,200 Washington households met the definition for hunger (called “very low food insecurity” in the report), up 40,200 or 36 percent.
Children's Alliance Executive Director Paola Maranan authored an Op-Ed published in the Seattle Times on Sunday, November 7th, 2010. She makes the case that Congress should protect funding for Working Connections Child Care by passing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund. The article makes it clear that failing to protect the Working Connections child care and employment program can only hurt kids, families, and the Washington state's economic recovery.
Deputy Director Jon Gould was featured on the TVW program Inside Olympia on November 11th. He called upon legislators to protect kids during these difficult economic times.
Watch a clip below, or see the full program on the TVW website.
TUESDAY, OCT. 26 2010 - Dental therapists are providing safe, competent, and appropriate oral health care, according to a multi-year study of their work in five Alaska communities.
The study, released today, is the first major independent assessment of dental therapists working in the United States. Its results will inform the Children’s Alliance’s work to expand access to oral health care for families in Washington.
The Columbian published an opinion - editorial by Executive Director Paola Maranan on September 26, 2010. The piece addresses some misinformation being spread by the soda company-backed Initiative 1107.
Child and senior advocates teamed up today to send a joint message to Governor Gregoire and other state lawmakers: Keep Washington’s values at the core of the budget debate.
The Seattle Times published an Op-Ed co-authored by Paola Maranan, executive director of the Children’s Alliance, and Ingrid McDonald, advocacy director of AARP Washington. They write:
Right now Congress has the once-every-five-year opportunity to improve the quality of school, child-care and summer meals and make them available to more children.
The Seattle Times ran an oped by Linda Stone, senior food policy coordinator at the Children's Alliance, calling on Congress to listen to the call that President Obama and anti-hunger experts have made to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act with an increase of $1 billion per year over 10 years.
On Friday, July 2, three initiative campaigns turned in voter signatures in hopes of qualifying for the November ballot. State officials will determine whether the initiative campaigns have enough valid voter signatures to meet the requirement.
One of these initiatives is I-1107, which would slash state revenues raised from new taxes on pop, candy, gum and other non-essential items. I-1107 is mainly funded by the American Beverage Association, which has given almost $2.5 million to the campaign.
KUOW reports on new findings from the Food Research and Action Center showing there are fewer summer meal programs available for low-income children while the need is rising. In Washington state there are 700 schools, parks and community centers that serve sack lunches — that's 23 fewer than last summer.
(June 29, 2010) — About 700 schools, parks, community centers, apartment complexes, trailer parks and other sites will be providing summer meals to hungry children across Washington this summer, down from 723 last summer.
The Children’s Alliance is honoring five state lawmakers as 2010 Legislative Champions for Children because of their outstanding service on behalf of children:
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown
Speaker of the House Frank Chopp
Representative Roger Goodman
Representative Ruth Kagi
Senator Claudia Kauffman
Next month at our annual luncheon, the Children’s Alliance will present five awards honoring child advocates whose work has improved the lives of Washington children.
Lawmakers in Olympia are considering establishing a Washington Food Policy Forum, currently sponsored by Sen. Ken Jacobson, Senate Bill 6343. Linda Stone, senior food policy coordinator of the Children's Alliance, and Jim Baird, a farmer in the Royal City area, discuss why the Forum would address food costs, access to healthy food and finding ways to support local farms. They write:
WE'RE IN THE NEWS: ANALYSIS: HOW SOFT DRINK LOBBY'S VICTORY IN WA MATTERS TO NATIONAL SODA TAX DEBATE
The Olympia Newswire continues its coverage of a proposed Washington state soda tax with an analysis of how efforts in this state join initiatives in other states and cities around the country to tax sugar-sweetened beverages.
A proposal enacting a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to restore funding for health and dental services draws support from some advocates, including the Children's Alliance, and criticism from the soda industry. Olympia Newswire reviews the history of soda industry tax exemptions and how current lobbying efforts may remove the proposal from the table.
The latest proposal to extend the sales tax to candy, now exempt as a food item, is drawing both opposition and support in Olympia. The Children's Alliance supports the proposal, which would use the revenue from taxed candy to restore medical and dental programs for children. Teresa Mosqueda, advocacy & legislative relations for the Children's Alliance, says:
“We can no longer afford to subsidize candy and sweets. These items are not food items.”
As the Washington Legislature debates enacting a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, three guests columnists in health care professions make their case for supporting a tax that would both save taxpayers money, reduce childhood obesity, and provide basic health care, nutrition and health-related educational programs.
Benjamin Danielson, M.D., vice president of the Children's Alliance board, David Fleming, M.D., director and health officer of Public
Health-Seattle & King County, and Lenna L. Liu, M.D., pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital write:
The latest tax proposals from the House, Senate and Governor Gregoire place many child and family programs on the chopping block. Child advocates, including the Children's Alliance, are urging lawmakers to consider the effects on business if child care funding for over 7,000 low-income families is cut.
Jon Gould, deputy director of the Children's Alliance, says:
Senate and House lawmakers have rightly proposed budgets that raise substantial new revenue to protect some of the vital services that are helping children and families weather this punishing recession. But more revenue is needed to prevent devastating cuts to safety-net programs that, if enacted, would hurt families and pose serious threats to our state’s economic recovery.
Do you know of a great child advocate? Someone who works to change the lives of children in Washington by making sure that our laws and budgets serve their needs? Someone who works to make kids our highest
priority? Tell us about them!
Each year, the Children’s Alliance honors outstanding child advocates at our Voices for Children Awards Luncheon. This year’s luncheon will be held on May 20th at the Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion. Nominations are now closed for the 2010 Voices for Children awards.
As lawmakers work in Olympia, the Children's Alliance and the Rebuilding Our Economic Future Coalition, of which the Children's Alliance is a member, continue to advocate for offsetting painful cuts with new revenue.
Jon Gould, the Children’s Alliance Deputy Director, pointed out that HB 3183, has more elements than just a sales tax increase for the general fund. The bill would also direct new revenue to highway projects and public transportation.
A recent report by the Food Research and Action Center found that 18.8 respondents in the North Olympic Peninsula have had trouble affording enough
Linda Stone, senior food policy coordinator for Washington's Children's Alliance, said the 6th Congressional District probably was high on the list because it is largely rural.
Almost one in five households across Washington state reported they didn’t have enough money to buy the food they needed in 2009. Families with kids are hurting even more, with 23 percent saying they struggled to put food on their tables, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center.
January 13, 2010 — Gov. Chris Gregoire’s revised budget rightly protects Apple Health for Kids, Maternity Support Services and some other vital programs that are helping Washington families weather this grueling recession. But many critical investments remain in jeopardy.
The Seattle Times invited the Children's Alliance and a handful of other organizations to write an oped giving state lawmakers advice for the upcoming session.
We urged them not to turn their backs on the children and families who need them most. "If we do," Executive Director Paola Maranan wrote, "we would only create problems that become costlier to solve down the road."
The Children's Alliance continues to obtain coverage surrounding the announcement that Washington won a $7.5 million "performance bonus" for the state's health insurance program for low- and moderate-income kids. The extra money, which the Children's Alliance worked hard to help the state secure, can and should be used to stop 16,000 kids from losing Apple Health for Kids coverage.
The Olympian article quotes Jon Gould, deputy director of the Children’s Alliance, who called on lawmakers to:
(Dec. 17, 2009) — Washington’s health insurance program for children has won a $7.5 million performance bonus from the federal government − a timely windfall that could prevent thousands of children from losing their Apple Health for Kids coverage.
The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded the bonuses to nine states that met enrollment targets and other conditions, such as streamlining their application and renewal procedures.
December 2, 2009— A new report from the Children’s Alliance shows that merely 16 percent of the 280,000 children who eat free lunches during the school year have access to similar meals during the summer months.
The report, “Summertime Hunger in Washington State,” includes initial data from the summer of 2009 that suggest more children flocked to the summer meal programs during the recession, but that the programs operated for fewer days as school districts, parks departments and other organizations cut back due to budget woes.
The Children's Alliance continues to gain coverage from rising hunger rates. This article ran in the Spokesman-Review and cites hunger figures from our 'Hungry in Washington' report and quotes Linda Stone, our Senior Food Policy Coordinator, saying:
Several media outlets picked up on our Hungry in Washington report, including the Seattle Times, Northwest Public Radio (KPLU and KUOW), the Olympian, and Real Change. The Seattle Times added information from Linda Stone, our Senior Food Policy Coordinator, to a national Associated Press story:
"We need more family-wage jobs, and federal nutrition programs should be stronger," Stone said. She also hopes the state Legislature will act to help pay for summer meal programs for children who depend on breakfast and lunch programs in public schools during the school year.
"There are children in classrooms across the state who may be coming into classrooms without dinner," Stone said. "We see school feeding programs as rock- bottom important."
November 16, 2009 -- A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms that hunger in Washington is on the rise as the effects of the recession take their toll on Washington families.
Estimated Washington households that are food insecure, meaning there may not be enough to eat, rose to 288,000 in 2008, a 13 percent increase over the prior year. The rise in households that are hungry was even more striking: 112,000 Washington households met the definition for hunger (called “very low food insecurity” in the report), an increase of 24 percent.
The Spokesman Review published an article about dramatic cuts being proposed to the successful Apple Health for Kids program. Children's Alliance Deputy Director Jon Gould was quoted:
The Yakima Herald-Republic ran a story today that used census numbers analyzed by Lori Pfingst at Washington Kids Count as a basis for examing the high uninsurance rate for kids in Yakima County, which stands at 26.6 percent according to data collected last year.
September 18, 2009—The Children’s Alliance today released the following statement about federal health reform and health coverage for Washington’s children. Jon Gould, Deputy Director, said:
“We in Washington have done better than average in taking care of the health needs of our children. We were among the first states in the nation to pledge to cover every child by 2010. And we have built a coverage program, Apple Health for Kids, that has delivered comprehensive, affordable coverage to thousands of children who otherwise would have relied on the emergency room for their health care needs.
We expect health reform efforts in Washington, D.C. to support our state’s laudable goals for children’s health care—not work against them. Children must come out of federal health reform better off than they were before, not worse. Our Congressional delegation has a history of standing up for children’s health coverage. They stood up for kids when the Children’s Health Insurance Program faced reauthorization earlier this year, and we need them to stand up for kids again as health reform bills are amended and the process moves forward.
The Spokane Spokesman-Review published an op ed on August 29th from our Senior Food Policy Coordinator, Linda Stone. The piece talked about the growing need for summer food programs at a time when budget cuts are forcing many such programs to shut down. Here's an excerpt:
While many of us think of summer as a time of bounty, overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables, for low-income families summer can be a time of deprivation. For thousands of children in these families, going back to school means a return to at least two solid meals a day.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
The Daily News in Longview picked up on our press release about the latest children's uninsurance numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and wrote an editorial praising the state's commitment to covering kids. Here's an excerpt:
The Census Bureau data show that the number of uninsured children in this state held steady, at about 107,000, between 2007 and 2008, according to Children’s Alliance. The state advocacy group reported that 93.2 percent of children in the state had health coverage in 2008. Credit both Congress and Washington lawmakers for holding the line with regard to providing care for children....
September 10, 2009—Data released by the U. S. Census Bureau this morning show that 93.2 percent of children in Washington State had health coverage in 2008, the same rate as in 2007. The rate remained the same only because an increase in the number of children enrolled in public coverage made up for the loss of employer-based coverage.
What does national health care reform have to do with Washington state kids? A lot. Connect now to actions you can take and resources you can use.
Kids can't thrive if their parents don't have the medical coverage they need. Think about being a child and watching your parent struggle with chronic illness, or try and keep food on the table and a roof overhead while coping
The Seattle Times published a guest opinion piece by Children's Alliance Executive Director Paola Maranan and Chris Korsmo, Executive Director of the League of Education Voters. Here's an excerpt;
MILLIONS of American children were thrown a lifesaver this spring when President Obama dedicated $4 billion of federal stimulus money — including about $50 million for Washington — to shore up Head Start, Early Head Start and other programs that help low-income families find good child care and preschool options for their kids.
Champions for Children are state lawmakers recognized by the Children’s Alliance for their outstanding service on behalf of children. Each Champion for Children provided significant leadership during the 2009 state legislative session in preserving, protecting, or advancing state policies or investments that will improve the well‐being of vulnerable children in Washington.
The Children's Alliance perspective regarding Governor Gregoire's veto of the early learning in the Basic Education Reform veto was visible in multiple stories.
May 19, 2009—Governor Chris Gregoire today vetoed the section of the Basic Education Bill (House Bill 2261) that stated the intent to provide preschool for at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds as part of the state’s definition of basic education. As part of basic education preschool for this group would eventually have been funded on a per pupil basis in the same way K-12 education is funded.
At its annual luncheon, the Children’s Alliance will present five awards honoring child advocates whose work has improved the lives of Washington children. These diverse activists have spoken up for children, youth and families—they have demanded healthcare for all Washington children, pressed for the rights of birth parents within the child welfare system, secured funding for early learning programs for the children most at risk of being left behind.
It’s hard to start a blog post on anything regarding the state budget without saying, “It could have been worse.” We all got our expectations lowered enough that a “win” was any cut that wasn’t as bad as expected. With budget news going from bad to worse, our early learning priorities shifted to protecting what we had. On that front we won some and we lost some. Here’s how it broke out by session’s end.
We've announced our nominees for the 2009 Voices for Children Awards. Each year at our Voices for Children Awards Luncheon, the Children’s Alliance honors individuals and institutions that are making policy work for Washington State Children. This year’s awards luncheon will be held on June 4 at the Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion.
Each of the nominees is an outstanding advocate for kids. Award winners will be announced at the Voices for Children Awards Luncheon.
In crafting the state’s 2009-11 budget legislators made an effort to protect children from the worst of the budget cuts. But children live in families and communities that are facing harsh cuts in health care and other services.
Today the Senate made early learning programs for disadvantaged kids part of the definition of basic education.
What does that mean? Well, for starters, it means the state's program for low-income preschoolers, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), will eventually be funded on a per pupil basis--just like K-12.
Right now, there are more than 2,600 qualified kids on the waiting list for the program. When the law is fully implemented, they should all have ECEAP seats if they want them.
As the Seattle Times reported today, Washington reached a sad milestone in March: Our unemployment rate broke 9 percent. That has distressing implications for kids. As we reported last month, the new State of Washington’s Children report projected that when Washington’s unemployment rate reached 9 percent, at least 37,000 children would fall into poverty.
Washington voters have spoken, and more than 70 percent of you support providing a preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds living in poverty.
A new report on child poverty by the research organization Child Trends makes for disturbing reading. Its findings—among them that child poverty has been on the rise since 2000—are especially ominous in the current economic crisis.
The Political Buzz blog of the Tacoma News Tribune picked up the Children's Alliance press release about the House budget proposal.
Kids helped, but not held harmless, in House budget proposal; Raising new revenue must be the next step
A new study of child poverty shows that the chronic stress of growing up poor hurts brain development.
The research offers insight into how poverty can limit the learning potential of children and may contribute to the achievement gap in school by impairing the brain's working memory. The working memory is the kind of memory that can hold a small amount of current information, like a list of numbers, to work with.
The Longview Daily News quoted Children's Alliance depute director Jon Gould in an analysis of a possible income-tax for Washington State.
“We believe the amount of revenue the state is generating is inadequate,” said Jon Gould, deputy director of the advocacy group Children’s Alliance. “We think the crisis we’re in calls for bold solutions and bold leadership.”
April 1, 2009—Beginning today, low-income Washingtonians who rely on the Basic Food Program (food stamps) to feed themselves and their children will see those benefits go a little further.
Washington is a delightful place to live, work, and raise children. We’re a state that believes in giving our children the best possible education and providing the college opportunities that allow graduates to get good jobs at cutting-edge businesses. We protect and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us. We’re committed to ensuring that our children can get the health care, food and other basics they need to grow, learn and thrive.
That quality of life is now threatened by this severe recession and our flawed tax structure.
March 31, 2009—Like the Senate budget proposal released yesterday, the House budget proposal includes some good investments in children and families, but in the current economic environment kids aren’t fully protected.
With the release of the Senate’s budget-slashing proposal and many outraged responses to it, yesterday was pretty dramatic. But, according to Publicola, our very own Paola Maranan’s call for a tax on high incomes was “the most dramatic statement of the day.”
--by Carolyn McConnell
March 30, 2009—The State Senate budget proposal released today protects some key programs for children and families, but in this time of growing need the nearly all-cuts budget does not hold kids harmless.
Publicola took note of the Children's Alliance statement about the release of the budget.
...their statement is more measured than the other communiques that have come in this afternoon (they got a lot of what they wanted like a prized children’s health program—thanks in part to the Feds—and a school meals program), Children’s Alliance Executive Director Paola Maranan concludes with perhaps the most dramatic statement of the day: A call for a tax on the rich.
An opinion piece in the Bellingham Herald makes the case for protecting school meals.
At a school in Whatcom County not long ago, a second-grade teacher was at her wits end about what to do with a boy who misbehaved constantly, disrupting class and disregarding her requests. It took months before she learned what the problem was: he was hungry. When he began receiving free school breakfast and lunch the behavior problems stopped.
I have been a teacher with the ECEAP program for almost 7 years now. I have worked in many Early Learning programs that provide a head start on learning but ECEAP truly provides a start for the whole family. We are truly making a difference so many ways.
Not only are the children having something consistant going on in their lives every day but the parents are getting their GED, taking ESL classes, asking for help in job searching and attending parenting classes to learn parenting skills.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report today that looks at trends in health coverage over the past decade. The report, called “At the Brink: Trends in America’s Uninsured,” compiles state-by-state data for a number of groups and issues. Among the trends for Washington state:
Alex Robertson was an honor student in her last year of high school when she got pregnant. Her confidence plummeted. She was scared of becoming a parent and scared of what people were thinking of her. “I didn’t want people to think I was that girl who got pregnant too young and didn’t finish school,” she said, but she wasn’t sure she was going to make it to graduation.
The state-funded program known as ECEAP wraps children in a nurturing safety net of preschool education, nutritious meals, medical and dental referrals, social services and more.
It serves the poorest of Washington's working poor: families with incomes below 110 percent of the federal poverty level ($23,320 a year for a family of four) and their preschool children, including 378 in Clark County.
Nearly half of all families it serves statewide this year have household
The waiting list for state-funded preschool has nearly doubled from last year, even though the state has added slots to the popular program, according to a statewide preschool organization.
A new report on child poverty in Washington projects that nearly 40,000 additional kids will drop into poverty by early next year.
The report, The State of Washington’s Children, was prepared by Washington Kids Count, housed at the Human Services Policy Center at the University of Washington.
Another 40,000 children will be living in poverty in Washington by this spring, if the economic forecast holds true, according to a report released this week by Washington Kids Count.
...With the announcement Thursday that the state's shortfall has reached $9 billion, children's advocates urged legislators to save programs that help families.
The state just released its biennial Healthy Youth Survey, which gathers anonymous responses from middle and high school students around the state on a number of health-related topics.
The survey results show some great progress on nutrition, but the improvements could come to a halt if the state moves forward with a bill to eliminate nutrition and physical exercise goals in the schools.
This week, for the first time in his life, five-year-old Tony Johnson got health insurance. So did his three older siblings. Now their parents, Paula and Ron, can take them to the well-child and dental visits they’ve been missing, and the Johnsons can begin getting out of the medical debt they’ve fallen into.
At age 19, Laura Montejano had cut off ties to her family in a fit of teenage anger and rebellion. Partly to spite her family, she got married—and didn’t tell them. Her new husband, Francisco, was young too, and new to Washington state, with no community ties. Neither had a college diploma; Laura worked as a nursing assistant and Francisco bused tables in a restaurant.
So when she found herself pregnant, she panicked. “I felt so alone,” Laura said. She knew she needed help. “I knew I needed something, but I didn’t know what.”
Vicky McIntyre gave moving testimony on the first day of the 2009 legislative session. Vicky and thousands of others took action to protect Apple Health Coverage for Kids. It worked and coverage was restored. Watch Vicky's testimony.
Last Tuesday, six-year-old Zoe Osborne and her parents got a very special present in the mail: an Apple Health for Kids coupon. For Zoe and her parents, the legislature’s directive to finally start enrolling families whose coverage was suspended earlier this year isn’t abstract.
We and others have already reported that Washington state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) allotment from the federal government is getting bumped up by about $14 million a year, giving the state access to an estimated $94 million each year.
While great news for kids, CHIP isn’t just about the allotment.
More than 300 advocates for kids showed up in Olympia for our annual Have A Heart for Kids Day. Together we rallied, we marched, we caucused and we made sure lawmakers knew that “Kids are counting on you!”
As Children’s Alliance executive director Paola Maranan told the crowd at our rally on the capitol steps:
A children's health-insurance bill likely headed to President Obama for signing this week carries extra money for Washington, meaning the state can expand its coverage to 6,000 more kids with no new state cost, officials say.
Have a Heart for Kids Day was covered in the Olympian on Saturday with a story about children's health and early learning, and some great photos of the rally.
Speaker of the House Frank Chopp said Friday that he wants coverage for children to become part of the state's fundamental obligation to children, like basic education.
My name is Bhuvane, and I live in Bellevue. I have a two year old who loves interacting with other kids in a fun environment. She has got some friends and is learning to enjoy their company and share with them while enjoying stories. If funding for Play and Learn is cut, we will miss the learning our kids get. It’s difficult to find a place where kids can play
President Barack Obama is releasing the first installment of more than $339 million in new Medicaid dollars included in the stimulus package to states tomorrow (Wednesday, February 25). Washington state stands to receive more than $2 billion over the next 22 months on top of the federal Medicaid funds that normally flow into our state. This additional health care money should be used for health care programs, particularly to protect key health programs that are facing cuts in the state budget. (See the statement to this effect from the Washington State Hospital Association.) It’s also worth noting that Washington state needs to maintain current eligibility standards
Do you know of a great child advocate? Someone who works to change the lives of children in Washington by making sure that our laws and budgets serve their needs? Someone who works to make kids our highest priority? Tell us about them!
Each year, the Children’s Alliance honors outstanding child advocates at our Voices for Children Awards Luncheon. This year’s luncheon will be held on June 4 at the Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion.
We’ve shared the story of Sarah McIntyre and her mom, Vicky, who’s been fighting to get health care for her daughter. Now we’re delighted to report a happy ending. After a year-long rollercoaster ride, Sarah is getting the coverage she needs.
Details are still coming out about the stimulus deal U.S. House and Senate negotiators worked out in conference. The House approved the agreement this morning, and the Senate is expected to vote this afternoon.
We’ve gotten the lowdown on several of our key priorities, including estimates of what the stimulus could mean for children here in our Washington. The targeted support for kids should help us hold kids harmless as lawmakers cut their way to a balanced budget. Here’s the rundown:
The stimulus package that came out of conference included the higher House investments in early learning programs. $2 billion will go to the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program, which supports low-income families in obtaining quality child care. That will bring an estimated $33 million into Washington’s early learning programs. Plus, Head Start and Early Head Start programs are set to get $2.1 billion nationwide--an estimated $5.3 million for Washington state. Early learning took a hit in the budget the Governor
A proposal to allow Washington schools to shorten the school week sounds at first glance like one of those think-outside-the-box moneysavers we’re all looking for in these hard times. Not so fast, explains Yakima School District Superintendent Ben Soria. He tells MSNBC that for many students the meals they get at school "may be the only real nutritional meals" they get on those days,
Do the math: shortening the school week from 5 to 4 would reduce the number of square meals these kids get by 20 percent, from up to 15
What a joy it was to hear President Obama’s words when he signed the children’s health bill into law yesterday:
“I refuse to accept that millions of our children fail to reach their full potential because we fail to meet their basic needs. In a decent society, there are certain obligations that are not subject to tradeoffs or negotiations, and health care for our children is one of those obligations.”
These words are music to ears of the thousands of members of the Children’s Alliance. We have been fighting for years for health care for every
February 4, 2009—Today, President Barack Obama signed federal legislation that gives Washington’s Apple Health for Kids program a $15-million-per-year shot in the arm. Governor Chris Gregoire, who was pres
Submitted by Kathy Bernier, Spokane - We are a family of five. Andy and I are full time working parents. We are struggling to make ends meet on our very middle income. We care and love three very diverse children.
February 2, 2009 (Seattle)—The 2007-2009 fiscal bill (HB1694) approved by the State House of Representatives today restores critical funding for the state’s Apple Health for Kids program, and directs the state to restart coverage that was suspended in mid-December. Coverage for uninsured children in families earning between 250 and 300 percent of the federal poverty level—which was originally scheduled to start January 1—could now begin as soon as the supplemental budget bill is signed by the Governor.
The Seattle Times Politics NW blog covered Have a Heart for Kids day on Friday and included a quote from Deputy Director Jon Gould as well as links back to our website.
"We're very concerned that budget cuts are going to hurt children and families, and make Washington a state we don't recognize, and a state that would not be good to raise families in," said Jon Gould, the deputy director of Children's Alliance.
On Saturday, January 31st Governor Gregoire and House Speaker Frank Chopp announced that our state's Apple Health for Kids program will move forward with covering uninsured children up to 300% of the poverty line -coverage that had been suspended since December 18th, 2008.
Federal children’s health insurance legislation that is making its way to President Barack Obama’s desk is expected to give Washington’s Apple Health for Kids program a $15 million shot in the arm. With new funding available through the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Washington state can and should sustain the Apple Health for Kids program as outlined in the state’s 2007 Cover All Kids law.
As we dig into a legislative session in the middle of an economic crisis, with bad news coming out of the woodwork, it’s inspiring to see a few bright spots that offer children and families hope for lasting change.
Until now our state's education policy has been based on the assumption that a basic education starts at kindergarten. But study after study is finding that kids’ brains and their futures are being molded years before they set off for their first day of "school". Kids who don’t get access to high-quality preschool, usually low-income children, start school behind, and many stay behind.
Yesterday morning we sent out a message to the Children’s Alliance Early Learning subscribers about proposed legislation that would raise early childhood education to an unprecedented height in Washington State.
Submitted by Jere VanMeter, LMFT, Coordinator, Parents as Teachers of Kittitas County, Ellensburg, WA -
I came here several years ago from Los Angeles where they had roughly 50,000 children in the foster care system. This was heartbreaking at best!
Programs for elderly, children likely to be eliminated The Olympian January 12, 2009 By Adam Wilson The state Department of Social and Health Services has been working to inform those its serves about $370 million in cuts to its budget by June. The agency sent out notice to families who signed up for state health insurance and make between 250 percent and 300 percent of the poverty level, telling them that the program was canceled because of cuts in this year's budget.
Sunday's Seattle Times featured a cover story about the devastating cuts to the kids' health coverage. Sarah's McIntyre's family thought their struggles with health coverage were over when they signed up for Apple Health for Kids - but coverage for families in their income bracket was suspended just days before it was supposed to start.
The I'm Counting On You virtual rally launched today. Kids from all over the state are telling lawmakers: We're counting on you to pass a budget that protects us.
Submitted by anonymous - Life at home was too hard for the children. My children are 10, 7 and 4. They had to hear their father and I argue relentlessly. School was their only escape.
Submitted by Lynne Jasin - My son recently was diagnosed with ADHD and a learning disorder, making it hard for him to learn and behave correctly in social situations. He now attends special education pre-school so that he may develop the skills needed to enter kindergarten and beyond. without these classes my son would be far behind other children his age his whole life, both mentally and socially. please, i implore you to NOT cut funding for my son and other children like him.
Submitted by Mary Schilling - Our community is receiving State sponsored 21st Century after school money. This support is vital to the youth of our community. We live in a very challenging region (remote, lack of services, low tax base due to Federally owned land, high poverty level).
Submitted by Heather Gerard, Camano Island - I am currently a WWU Human Services Student and a mother of 2 who is struggling as I move off of state assistance.
My oldest daughter Jessy attended the Skagit/ Island head Start Program in Concrete, WA where she and I both found our passions, hers in learning and attending school, and mine in Family Support.
The Bellingham Herald published a story about the dramatic impacts of the health care cuts proposed by Governor Gregoire in her budget released December 18th. The article quotes Children's Alliance lobbist Teresa Mosqueda as well as medical providers who are struggling to meet the health care needs of under- and un-insured kids and families in Washington.
The Children’s Alliance today released the following statement in response to Governor Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget cuts:
Proposed cuts in the state budget slash entire programs that kids’ need to be safe, healthy and succeed. Take action! The I'm Counting On You! Virtual Rally is happening now.
There are three ways you can join the rally:
Option 1: Add your picture
Take a photo of yourself – or take a photo of your kid(s) (with or without you in it) holding a sign that says “I’m counting on you”. You can make your own sign or download and print this one.
E-mail your picture to us. In your e-mail include the following: Your name and the city or town you live in, if you want that information included. By sending in your picture you are agreeing that we can post it on our website as part of the “I’m Counting On You” virtual rally.
Why give to the Children's Alliance during the Leadership Campaign?
All of us are living in a time of economic uncertainty. For that very reason it is a vital time to make a donation to the Children's Alliance.
You can give whatever amount is affordable to you. We just ask that you consider the extraordinary times we are in, and how much is at stake for Washington's kids.
We hope it helps you connect to the Children’s Alliance and kids issues and put your beliefs into action.
Here you can find the latest news, get advocacy resources, find a training tool, take action for kids and more.
Looking for something in particular? Use the helpful search box on the upper right hand corner.
Above all this site is intended to make it as easy as possible for you to turn your passion for kids into the action they need.
A story published last week in the Yakima Herald shows just how stretched working families are, even when they’re above the federal government’s definition of poverty, and what a lifeline Apple Health for Kids is for them:
Kids of color, particularly African American, Native American and Latino children are more likely to enter into the child welfare system, and once there, they stay in the system longer than white kids. This information is not a surprise to child advocates or communities of color, but it has now been verified by a report issued by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy for the statewide Racial Disproportionality Advisory Committee.
Advisors to the Governor just went through the state's budget. They made recommendations for what to fund and what to cut. Unfortunately, they have recommended that she cut out highly effective and desperately needed early learning programs.
Governor Gregoire is writing her budget at this very moment. Don't sit by and let our state's leader make a foolish decision to cut early learning programs that are proven to save money - and prepare our kids to succeed.
New data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on food security is sounding an early alarm about growing hunger in Washington households as the state and nation enter a recession. The survey’s data were gathered in 2007, before the state’s economy had taken a serious downturn, and yet they show significant food insecurity and hunger in Washington, particularly in the state’s rural counties.
Read our report: Hungry in Washington 2008.
As more and more Washington families feel the economic pinch and struggle to pay their bills, legislation passed almost two years ago is extending a lifeline of health security. Beginning January 1, 2009, Washington’s Apple Health for Kids phases in for children in families up to 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, around $52,800 a year for a family of three. The state will begin accepting applications for health coverage for these families beginning the last week of November (for coverage that will start January 1, 2009). One of the first children in line for this program will be seven-year-old Sarah McIntyre of Yakima. Sarah was born with a hole in her heart and cysts on one lung.
Read the Children’s Alliance press release.
Parent Map, in its October issue, offers up "an analysis of the major issues and races affecting families" in Washington. Topping the list are a number of Children's Alliance priorities, including early learning, children's health coverage and foster care. The article also features the Children's Alliance legislative agenda for the 2009 session and multiple quotes from our own deputy director, Jon Gould, inlcuding this one on the subject of early learning:
In today's Olympian, political reporter Adam Wilson compares the gubernatorial candidates' records on children's health coverage. When Dino Rossi was chairman of the Senate Ways and Means committee, the number of children on children's health coverage went down.
News is starting to emerge that a few states are faltering in their commitment to provide health coverage to kids. We're gratified to report that Washington is staying on the path to cover every child by 2010.
The stories of hungry kids are in the news all over the state this week. In the Seattle P-I today the Editorial Board noted the invisibility of childhood hunger in our state:
“Hunger among Washington's children can be hard to detect. Their teachers may only notice inattention and crankiness.”
The Spokesman Review in Spokane carried a great story about how nearly impossible it is to feed a family a balanced, healthy diet on a tight budget. The article quotes the Children’s Alliance’s very own food policy expert, Linda Stone, and highlighted the expansion of food stamp eligibility that will go into effect on October 1st. The expansion, which was a big victory in the 2008 legislative session, will open up food stamps to 23,000 more families.
A Seattle Times editorial called out the struggles of families to pay the cost of school lunch – and noted that kids grade four and above are still waiting for the legislature to eliminate the reduced price lunch co-pay.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Editorial Board came out strongly in favor of advancing programs that feed children in Washington State. The editorial noted the invisibility of childhood hunger:
“Hunger among Washington's children can be hard to detect. Their teachers may only notice inattention and crankiness.”
As well as making a strong case for investing now in the needs of hungry families and children.
Renowned chef and author Tom Douglas spoke up for the Children's Alliance's plan to end childhood hunger in a guest editorial in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer last week.
"As a chef, I take pleasure in feeding people. As a citizen, I find it appalling that people in my community are hungry...End Childhood Hunger Washington's 10-point strategic plan lays out how we can end childhood hunger in our state."
Children living in foster care need what all kids need: love, stability, health, safety and a path to create a successful adult life. For too long in Washington State children living in foster care haven't gotten what they need. A court decision in early July ordered the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to keep the promises made to foster kids in the 2004 settlement of the Braam v. Washington lawsuit.
Seventeen organizations, including the Children's Alliance, have issued a statement to the Washington State Joint Task Force on Basic Education Finance urging the members of the Task Force to include early learning in the revised definition of Basic Education.
"Washington State cannot ensure a basic education for all, let alone reach a higher goal, without ensuring that children gain the intellectual and social skills required for success in school prior to entering the K-12 system."