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Posts tagged ‘maternal and child health’

Washington DC: Educare early childhood center breaks ground in Ward 7

Washington Post Artilce, Posted at 06:15 PM ET, 03/16/2011 

By Bill Turque

Mayor Vincent C. Gray may have gotten a little swept up in the moment at Tuesday’s groundbreaking for the Educare early childhood center in Parkside-Kenilworth. In hammering the point that it’s never too early for early childhood initiatives, the mayor said: “Frankly, if I were in a position to have a fetus in the program, I’d do it.” He added: “We don’t know what’s going on in the intrauterine experience” that might enable an unborn child to benefit.

The intrauterine experience not withstanding, Tuesday was a big day in Ward 7 as the Educare facility finally launched. The $12 million project, spearheaded by the Buffett Early Childhood Fund (headed by Susie Buffett, daughter of the billionaire investor) was due to break ground as early as last summer but ran into a thicket of local issues involving labor, land ownership and governance. The plan now is to open in early 2012 and serve 171 at-risk infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families.

Buffett, the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation are among the private funders underwriting construction of the building, adjacent to Neval Thomas Elementary School. It will be operated by a local partnership that includes the United Planning Organization (the local Head Start grantee) and funded with a combination of D.C., federal and private dollars. It will be one of 12 Educare schools operating across the country in an effort to raise the quality of birth-to-5 services for low-income families.

Officials envision Educare as a critical cog in the D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative, similar to New York’s Harlem Children’s Zone. Educare, Thomas Elementary and the Parkside campus of Cesar Chavez Public Policy Charter School (grades 6 through 12) would help provide the basis for a web of continuous social and educational services.

A consortium of community groups led by Chavez won a $500,000 grant last fall to continue the planning effort. Other major players include America’s Promise Alliance, chaired by Alma Powell, wife of former secretary of state Colin Powell, and City Interests, headed by developer Alan Novak.

By Bill Turque  |  06:15 PM ET, 03/16/2011

LINK to Article

Maryland: Why Frederick County official flunks on Head Start

Washington Post, Letter to the Editor

Regarding the March 4 Metro story “A woman’s place? Frederick official gets an earful for sharing his view.”:

Frederick County Commissioner Paul Smith thinks that a woman’s place is in the home? His wife thinks that women are working in order to “live in a mansion.” He needs a reality check.

Women whose children are in Head Start are not working so that they can live in a mansion. These women are working because they have two choices: work for money or go on welfare. And Mr. Smith made it abundantly clear what he thinks about people taking money from the government.

Mr. Smith should know that it is not just poor children who benefit from preschool. Studies show that children who attend preschool do better in school and get along with their peers better than children who were kept home until kindergarten.

Melissa Yorks, Gaithersburg

l

It is discouraging to see a Frederick County official vote against Head Start funding when he does not seem to understand its purpose. Head Start is the first rung on the public-education ladder for young children whose parents cannot afford to send them to private preschool. It is not day care.

These children need a head start because primary education has changed since Paul Smith and I went to school, indeed since my children went to school. Kindergarten curriculum is now like first grade was and first grade like second grade.

To use his religious beliefs on “God’s divine design” to deny young children the opportunity to succeed in their first years of school is just wrong. He punishes the children based on his judgment of their parents.

Mr. Smith, fund Head Start. It’s the best investment Frederick County can make.

Betsy Tervo, Laurel

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As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I would prefer that Paul Smith not use the church’s “Proclamation on the Family” as an argument against Head Start.

The proclamation says that mothers are the primary nurturers of their children. I suppose that Mr. Smith might argue that any government program that helps the disadvantaged indirectly encourages mothers of young children to seek employment outside the home. However, the proclamation also states, “Disability, death, or other circumstances [i.e., divorce or abandonment] may necessitate individual adaptation.”

Members of the church are strongly encouraged to help the disadvantaged. I also sympathize with Elizabeth Sprague, who was abandoned by her spouse. Situations like hers happen all too often, even to members of the church, although I would hasten to add that no man would find any justification from the church for abuse or abandonment.

Washington Post: LINK to Article

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At Blooming Head Start, we recognize that your program is full of caring and passionate staff that want to put their strengths      towards improving and implementing your program in the best way possible but aren’t always sure what those best implementation methods could be. Additionally, staff are often burdened with day-to-day issues that keep them busy and stressed to make the best day possible for the families they serve. If your organization does not effectively utilize your staff’s interests and passion, you could risk letting hem be misguided and even extinguish their enthusiasm due to disorganization and lack of support.

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Cutting federal workforce also means cutting taxpayer services

By Joe Davidson, Tuesday, January 25

If you thought the two-year pay freeze President Obama and Congress imposed on federal employees would mollify Republican calls for harsher worker sacrifices, you would be wrong.

The Republican Study Committee, a group that makes up almost 70 percent of the Republicans in the House, wants more.

Cutting spending to 2008 levels, as House Republicans proposed last year, would be just the start for the committee members.

Under the committee’s Spending Reduction Act of 2011, “at the beginning of the next fiscal year on October 1, 2011, [non-defense] spending is further reduced to 2006 levels and frozen there for the next decade,” the committee said last week. “To help achieve these savings, the bill shrinks the size and cost of the civilian federal workforce and specifically targets over 100 budget items and spending reforms.”

But what the committee doesn’t readily address is what their cuts would mean for the many services Uncle Sam provides his customers.

For example, would waits for Social Security, veterans and discrimination claims grow? Would there be fewer workplace inspections? Would it take longer to approve drugs?

Committee Republicans would shrink the cost of the federal workforce through a five-year pay freeze and reduce the workforce by 15 percent through attrition. That would be reached by hiring one worker for every two who left government.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) stood with his House colleagues in a news release issued by the committee, against what he called “the wave of wasteful Washington spending. The Spending Reduction Act begins the difficult task of shrinking the federal bureaucracy that threatens our future prosperity.”

The federal bureaucracy and those who staff it always are an easy target. But the release fails to mention anything about the impact the proposed cuts would have on service. If cutting federal spending, the federal payroll and staffing levels are necessary, then those who push those policies also should be willing to say what services they are willing to cut to save money.

While the committee’s news release and fact sheet ignored the impact of its proposal on customers, others did not.

Bennie G. Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said many of the projects to enhance domestic security – along the border, at airports and in cyberspace – were paid for through the discretionary budget.

Going back to 2006 levels would place homeland security “potentially at risk if this goes through,” Thompson said. An overview of the legislation issued by the committee makes no mention of excluding homeland security and veterans’ spending from the proposed discretionary limits.

With defense programs excluded, the hit on the remaining parts of the budget would be huge.

“If imposed across the board, such a cut would mean 42 percent less for health care for veterans; 42 percent less for K-12 education; 42 percent less for protecting the environment; 42 percent less for the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and border security; 42 percent less for the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 42 percent less for food safety and inspection; and so on,” according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an organization that studies federal budget issues from a center-left perspective.

But let’s say the center overstates the problem. According to the Senate’s Democratic leadership, even a 30 percent cut in non-security programs would have a serious impact:

l About 8 million students would have their Pell grants cut.

l Head Start would be forced to drop about 389,000 children and families.

l K-through-12 classrooms across America would lose $11.25 billion

l About 3,000 food-safety inspector positions would be eliminated

l Approximately 4,000 positions for FBI agents, 800 ATF agents, 1,500 DEA agents, and 900 U.S. marshals would be lost, as would 5,700 correctional officers in federal prisons.

l Guaranteed loans for small businesses would fall by about $4 billion in 2011.

Asked about service cuts, a spokesman for the committee said the Office of Management Budget would have flexibility to reassign worker slots between agencies if necessary. “People in the private sector often have to tighten their belts, increase productivity and provide the same services at lower costs,” he said. “We reject the notion that the federal government cannot do the same.”

Providing the same service at lower costs, however, is a notion that often ignores reality. Consider the difference in service between a Home Depot and a neighborhood hardware store. One way big-box stores keep costs low is by hiring comparatively fewer people. Along with lower costs come lower levels of service.

Sam can learn from recent experience. Many agencies were understaffed when President Obama took office and their customers suffered steep backlogs in service.

Going back to 2006 levels “would have significant impacts on staffing and slash productivity at a time when we are receiving record numbers of charges,” said Christine Saah Nazer, a spokeswoman for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“We would see our pending inventory grow significantly and a marked decrease in our ability to provide training and technical assistance to employers. This would ultimately result in lengthy delays, keeping those who file complaints of discrimination, as well as businesses, in a costly state of limbo.”

The cost of government can be counted in different ways. Budget figures are one way, the cost to customers by cutting service is another. When politicians talk about the former, don’t let them get away with ignoring the latter.

Washington Post, LINK to Article