Pages tagged "Education"
The First Focus Campaign for Children is proud to join with Representative Mazie Hirono and Senator Bob Casey in supporting their requests to Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to create a separate fund that promotes the streamlining and coordination of high quality state programs of early learning for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Both Representative Hirono and Senator Casey, with the support of their colleagues, have asked that the fund be part of the $700 million allocated in the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 (H.R. 1473), for Race to the Top.
Much like the Obama Administration’s call for an Early Learning Challenge Fund (ELCF), which would have created a dedicated source to improve the quality of state early learning systems, Senator Casey’s letter includes the cosponsors of his Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act (SSSEL). In the letter Senator Casey stated:
“We are the cosponsors of the SSSEL Act, which aligns with the Administration’s support for an ELCF [Early Learning Challenge Fund]. We believe that the key elements and approach in this bill should drive a free-standing early learning initiative through a separate and distinct competition.”
This separate funding for streamlining state early education and development programs would be jointly administered by HHS and the Department of Education. With the focus solely on early learning and development, some of the goals for this program include:
- Helping to create developmentally appropriate early learning standards;
- Supporting states that are developing system wide, holistic approaches to early learning that include integration with elementary education;
- Providing states funding for the critical goal of streamlining and unifying all early childhood programs;
- Improving the qualifications and effectiveness of the early learning workforce; and
- Establishing data systems to track and measure program quality.
In the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 (H.R. 1473), Congress appropriated the additional $700 million for Race to the Top while also adding a fifth assurance to the program’s language. This fifth assurance makes certain that early learning will now be one of the program’s priorities. However, there were no other instructions in the legislative language as to how this funding or new assurance should be used. Executive agencies have until May 15, 2011 to release their official spending plan for the current fiscal year. These letters are a good step forward in helping to outline the priorities for this additional funding.
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New Legislation Calls for a National Effort to Assess and Improve the Well-Being of America’s Children
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) will introduce the Children’s Act of 2010, a bill to address the challenges facing our nation’s youth by establishing a National Council on Children. The First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, voiced its strong support for the legislation, which aims to establish the United States as a frontrunner in improving the lives of children.
Specifically, the National Council on Children will annually assess the performance of the United States in ensuring the well-being of children. In addition, the Council will develop a set of national goals to improve the lives of youth, and make recommendations to advance children’s well-being.
“It’s in our nation’s best interest to raise the most healthy, most educated, best-prepared children in the world for the challenges that lie ahead. Yet on virtually every index, America’s children are falling behind. Today in America one in five kids is born into poverty, 30 percent of students fail to graduate from high school, and 8 million children lack health insurance,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children. “A coordinated, national action plan to improve child well-being is essential to raise the visibility of children in federal policy, solidify our commitment to the nation’s future, and ensure that we can meet the needs of the next generation. We applaud Senator Dodd and Senator Casey for their leadership in introducing this important piece of legislation which will generate momentum for improving the lives of our nation’s youth.”
Senator Dodd is the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families.
“The subcommittee has provided an important forum for our country's elected leaders and children advocates to focus on the needs of our children. And it has played a vital role, shedding light on the struggles our nation’s children face,” said Senator Dodd. “What we have learned is that our children are in crisis. It is critical that we create a new national council on children to closely examine the needs of children and identify solutions to improve their lives. With Senator Casey’s deep understanding of the challenges children in America face, I am confident he will be able to champion this important effort in the next Senate. It is time to put a specific and targeted focus on our children, the future of our country, and create a national council on children.”
“I am pleased to partner with Senator Dodd on the Children’s Act of 2010 which will provide an opportunity to help a new generation of children and families,” said Senator Casey. “By creating a National Council on Children, we will be able to help our nation and leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors to develop a road-map to ensure that the current generation of young Americans has as many opportunities to succeed as possible. And we will ensure that even in challenging times, American families have the support they need to raise healthy families. Senator Dodd’s dedication and work on children’s issues during his time in the United States Senate has improved the lives of millions of children.”
In 1991, a former National Commission on Children approved a blueprint for national policy to benefit America’s children and families. In response, Congress and the President expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, created the Child Tax Credit, and established the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The goal of the new National Council on Children would be to catalyze the next generation of groundbreaking policies for children and families.
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Washington D.C. – Today, the First Focus Campaign for Children, a national, bipartisan child advocacy group, released the names of Members of Congress identified as the most valuable leaders on issues important to children. The announcement today launches the group’s inaugural campaign to recognize the top 100 Members of Congress who make improving the well-being of children a national priority.
Of the 100 Members of Congress recognized by the group today, 50 Members were named “Champions for Children” on account of their extraordinary efforts to protect and improve the future of America’s next generation. An additional 50 Members were awarded the title “Defenders of Children” and are being recognized for their support of policies that advance the well-being of children.
“We applaud our Champions and Defenders of Children for their unflagging commitment to protect our nation’s future,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the Campaign for Children. “Children cannot vote, hold press conferences, or donate to political campaigns to thank the Members of Congress that support them and protect their interests. And because of that, today we are honoring those Members on behalf of children. This award is intended to give recognition to our nation's top public officials who take action to make children a national priority. We look forward to working with our Champions and Defenders to continue protecting America’s next generation of leaders.”
In selecting the Champions and Defenders honored today, the First Focus Campaign for Children took note of leaders who introduced, co-sponsored, and voted for legislation that would best meet the needs of children. In addition, the organization considered Members who demonstrated extraordinary initiative by spearheading activities such as sponsoring hearings or garnering the support of their colleagues to improve the health and well-being of children.
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Senate Continues to Delay a Vote on the DREAM Act
Washington D.C. - Yesterday, the United States Senate failed to invoke cloture on the Defense Authorization Act, which contained the DREAM Act (S. 729) as an amendment. A minority of 42 senators chose to filibuster a procedural motion, blocking the will of a clear majority of the Senate and the American public who support the DREAM Act. This means that the DREAM Act will not be taken up for a vote this week and the future of the bill remains uncertain.
The DREAM Act would provide undocumented students brought to the United States as children with the opportunity to earn permanent legal status upon meeting certain requirements. Despite growing up in the United States and being educated in American schools, these students face barriers in pursuing a college degree and are left unable to join the workforce due to their lack of legal immigration status.
The First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children's advocacy organization, has been at the forefront of advocacy for passage of the DREAM Act. Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley released the following statement:
"The Senate denied the DREAM Act a fair vote on its merits despite overwhelming support from business, education, military, and religious leaders, as well as 70 percent of the American people. Once again hundreds of thousands of innocent children are paying the price for our country's broken immigration system.
"Until the DREAM Act becomes law, Walter Lara, an honor student from Miami, Florida who was brought to the U.S when he was only 3 years old will not achieve his dreams of continuing college and his career in computer graphics. And until the DREAM Act becomes law, Laura Lopez, a 22-year old college graduate from California, will not achieve her dream of attending law school. There are countless stories of talented young people like Walter and Laura waiting for the opportunity to contribute to our country.
"We are deeply concerned that more than a dozen so-called supporters of this legislation used a procedural maneuver to avoid a vote on the DREAM Act. It is unacceptable that once again the dreams of so many children remain on hold due to political gridlock.
"We applaud the heroic efforts of so many youth leaders who participated in countless events across the country and flooded Congress with calls and faxes over the past week. The impact they have made will continue to fuel the conversation so that we achieve a victory on this important legislation later this year."
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new analysis released today uncovered startling facts about the number of homeless students in our nation’s schools. According to the brief, American schools have experienced drastic increases in the number of homeless students entering their classrooms since the beginning of the recession. The brief finds that 26 states collectively report a 50 percent increase in the number of homeless children attending school since the 2006-07 school year.
In addition, the report finds that, during the 2007-2008 school year, school districts reported a 17 percent increase over the prior year in homeless students (679,724 homeless students enrolled during 2006-2007; 794,617 homeless students enrolled during 2007-2008, an increase of 114,893 students, or 17 percent). When students become homeless they not only suffer academically, but their mental and physical health are put at risk as well.
The brief entitled, Creating Jobs and Supporting Homeless Students, urges our nation’s leaders to take swift action by assisting school districts in helping students stay in school, even though they have lost their homes. It was written by First Focus, a children’s advocacy organization, and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, a membership organization of educators and others serving homeless children and youth.
“Our findings confirm what we already know about the number of homeless students – it has grown exponentially. When families lose their homes, children often lose their schools and access to services. Such changes not only impact their education but their physical and mental health as well.” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children. “When we help children grow and succeed, we are paving the way for our country’s next generation of workers and leaders. As Congress considers the Jobs Bill, we urge investments in jobs that support and assist the most innocent victims of the economic downturn – our nation’s children. By saving and creating jobs like homeless support staff, school social workers, psychologists, and community outreach staff, we will strengthen the economy while helping thousands of children continue their education and realize the American Dream.”
Although data on homeless students is not yet available for every state, other research has confirmed the recession has taken its toll on children. A recent report released by First Focus and the Brookings Institution found that the number of children across the nation receiving food stamps increased by 3.4 million in just one year. Further, new research has shown that 10.5 million children have an unemployed parent.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, hundreds of youth participated in a mock graduation ceremony in our nation’s capitol to push for passage of the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide undocumented students brought to the United States as children with the opportunity to earn permanent legal status upon meeting certain requirements. For many of these students, high school graduation marks the final “normal” moment in their lives. Despite growing up in the United States and being educated in American schools, they face barriers in pursuing a college degree and are left unable to join the workforce due to their lack of legal immigration status.
The DREAM Act (S.729), introduced in the 111th Congress by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), would provide certain undocumented students with the ability to obtain permanent legal resident status if they came to the United States as children, have good moral character, finish high school or obtain a G.E.D., and complete two years of college or military service.
Today’s graduation ceremony was organized to send a clear message to Congress that passage of the DREAM Act is vital to the future of hundreds of thousands of young people and to the country as a whole. The youth were joined by immigrant rights leaders, child advocates, and Members of Congress, including Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).
Prior to the ceremony, college and university presidents from across the country also called on Congress to immediately take action on the bill by participating on a press teleconference. The higher education community has been unanimous in their support of the DREAM Act, which has the potential to provide approximately 65,000 high school graduates annually with improved access to a higher education and a legal means by which to join the U.S. workforce.
The First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, has been at the forefront of advocacy for passage of DREAM. The organization recently released a poll that placed bipartisan support for the bill at 70 percent. Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley released the following statement:
“We applaud the efforts of the hundreds of brave young people who made the journey to Washington today to call on Congress to take a stand and do what is right for children and for the future of our country. Passage of the DREAM Act would provide these youth, who currently face an uncertain future, with the opportunity to contribute to the country they already call home by putting them on a path to citizenship.
“The poll we commissioned last month confirms that there is strong public support across the country and across party lines to move forward with the DREAM Act. The bill is a common-sense solution to address the hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the United States as children and are left unable to pursue the American dream.
“The future success of our country lies in our ability to cultivate an educated workforce capable of competing in the global economy. We cannot afford to continue losing the talent of so many students who have already been educated in American schools. It is time for children to stop paying the price for our broken immigration system. We strongly urge Congress to take immediate action to pass the DREAM Act.”
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The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (S. 729), introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), is bi-partisan legislation that provides certain immigrant students who grew up in the U.S. with increased access to higher education and an earned pathway to obtaining legal status. The companion bill in the House of Representatives is the American Dream Act (H.R. 1751) and was introduced by Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). The bill was re-introduced in March 2009. This fact sheet provides an overview of the legislation and outlines the impact it will have on children and families.
The purpose of the Keeping PACE Act is to increase graduation rates and strengthen student performance in school. It will do so by improving parent involvement in education and leveraging community resources to support students’ needs in and outside the classroom. This fact sheet provides an overview of the legislation and outlines the impact it will have on children and families.
The purpose of the Full-Service Community Schools Act is to strengthen student success. It will do so by supporting public/private partnerships that integrate services – academic, developmental, health, and more – into schools to more effectively serve students and families. This fact sheet provides an overview of the legislation and outlines the impact it will have on children and families.
U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) today was honored as a Champion for Children at a Children's Budget Summit hosted by the bipartisan children's advocacy organization First Focus.
"Children are our most precious blessings, and throughout my public service I've been proud to fight for federal resources and measures to ensure their health, safety, and well being," Senator Lincoln said. "I am proud to advocate for improved nutrition, access to quality education and health care, and safe and loving homes for our children, and I thank First Focus and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families for sharing this commitment...