Small changes

Colorado plateaus in annual preschool ranking

While state funding for the Colorado Preschool Program increased a bit last year, Colorado didn’t improve on measures of preschool quality or access, according to an annual ranking published by the National Institute for Early Education Research or NIEER.

Among the highlights from the NIEER “State of Preschool Report 2014” released Monday:

  • Colorado ranks 22nd among 41 states for four-year-old preschool access, the same as the previous year.
  • The state ranks ninth for three-year-old access, a slight improvement from its previous ranking at 10th.
  • When it comes to state spending on preschool, Colorado improved its rank from 37th to 35th.
  • The state met six of 10 benchmarks of preschool quality, the same number it met the year before.

Among the quality benchmarks Colorado failed to meet is one that would require early childhood teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and a second that would require assistant teachers to have a Child Development Associate.

A decade ago, Colorado achieved only four benchmarks on the quality checklist.

While Colorado got a small pat on the back from NIEER officials in a state-specific press release accompanying the report, it was far from a ringing endorsement.

“The actions seen here could be the first small step to improving quality and access for Colorado’s young children, but overall the state’s program remains well below average,” said NIEER director Steven Barnett.

NIEER 2015 Yearbook screen shot
Colorado’s ranking on preschool access and spending among the 41 states that have state-funded preschool.                Source: NIEER

Early investment

Foundations put $50 million behind effort to improve lives of young Detroit children

PHOTO: Erin Einhorn
The heads of the Kresge and W.K. Kellogg foundations, Rip Rapson and La June Montgomery announce a $50 million investment to support the new Hope Starts Here framework.

The two major foundations behind the creation of a ten-year plan to improve the lives of Detroit’s youngest children are putting up $50 million to help put the plan into action.

As they unveiled the new Hope Starts Here framework Friday morning, the Kellogg and Kresge foundations announced they would each spend $25 million in the next few years to improve the health and education of children aged birth to 8 in the city.

The money will go toward upgrading early childhood education centers, including a new Kresge-funded comprehensive child care center that the foundation says it hopes to break ground on next year at a location that has not yet been identified.

Other foundation dollars will go toward a just-launched centralized data system that will keep track of a range of statistics on the health and welfare of young children, and more training and support for early childhood educators.

The announcement at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History drew dozens of parents, educators and community leaders. Among them was Detroit Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti who said one of the major impediments to improving conditions for young children has been divisions between the various government and nonprofit entities that run schools, daycares and health facilities for young kids.

Vitti said the district would do its part to “to break down the walls of territorialism that has prevented this work from happening” in the past.

Watch the video of of the announcement here.

Detroit's future

In a city where 60 percent of young children live in poverty, a ten-year plan aims to improve conditions for kids

PHOTO: Erin Einhorn/Chalkbeat

A coalition of community groups led by two major foundations has a plan to change the fortunes of Detroit’s youngest citizens.

The Hope Starts Here early childhood partnership is a ten-year effort to tackle a list of bleak statistics about young children in Detroit:

  • More than 60% of Detroit’s children 0-5 live in poverty — more than in any of the country’s 50 largest cities;
  • 13% of Detroit babies are born too early, compared to nine percent nationally;
  • 13% of Detroit babies are born too small, compared to eight percent nationally;
  • Detroit has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country;
  • Nearly 30,000 of eligible young Detroiters have no access to high-quality early learning or child care options.
  • That translates to learning problems later on, including the 86.5% of Detroit third graders who aren’t reading at grade level.

Hope Starts Here spells out a plan to change that. While it doesn’t identify specific new funding sources or propose a dramatic restructuring of current programs, the effort led by the Kresge Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, names six “imperatives” to improving children’s lives.

Among them: Promoting the health, development and wellbeing of Detroit children; supporting their parents and caregivers; increasing the overall quality of early childhood programs and improving coordination between organizations that work with young kids. The framework calls for more funding to support these efforts through the combined investments of governments, philanthropic organizations and corporations.

Read the full framework here: