- Breadth and scope of HMG system Implementation and progress since 2018
- Capacity to reach children, families, community partners, and child health care providers
- Novel approaches and system enhancements currently explored by HMG affiliates
Ivey appoints new secretary for early childhood education department
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Gov. Kay Ivey has chosen a new leader for the state’s Department of Early Childhood Education. Dr. Barbara Cooper will become the DECE’s new secretary, effective immediately.
Cooper, who has more than 30 years of experience, has been with the department since 2018. She was previously DECE’s Director of the Office of School Readiness and the Birth to Grade 12 Advisor for the Alabama Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation.
She was also appointed by the Alabama State Board of Education to serve as the Chief Administrative Officer during the state’s intervention of the Montgomery Public Schools system. In that role, she worked to improve leadership and governance at MPS.
“Dr. Barbara Cooper has spent her professional career dedicated to helping students achieve their greatest potential. She and I share the same goal, and that is to make Alabama a better place, which begins with our youngest citizens,” Gov. Ivey said.
Read the full article here.
Working Families and Child Care in Alabama
Online survey of working families conducted between May 18, 2020 and June 2, 2020
Alabama Partnership for Children (APC)
The APC offered the survey through multiple child care and workforce partner agencies as an online assessment of working families’ child care needs. The results offer us direction about what is needed to safely open back up child care, what families need, and concerns about returning to work and child care.
Prior to the pandemic, recent reports indicate that in “normal” times, there is a child care shortage in Alabama. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s report, Child Care Gaps Assessment: Alabama (April 2020), reports 214,150 child care slots needed based on children under 6 with all parents in the workforce. This was calculated during a time when Alabama had historically low unemployment and an estimated need for 500,000 newly skilled workers by the year 2025, according to the report of Alabama WORKS, Preparing Alabama’s Workforce for Opportunity and Growth. The report identified lack of access to child care as one of the top three barriers to labor participation and/or attending school or college.
The Gaps Assessment identified every available source of child care and provided an estimated 128,959 available slots – showing a gap of 85,554. Even when considering families who don’t access child care outside of their homes, having family members provide care or paying for “nanny” care in the home, we know that the steady reduction of child care slots available requires us to build and now re-build this necessary workforce support.
As reported by VOICES for Alabama’s Children in the Kids Count Data Book, between 2010 and 2019, the total number of licensed child care programs has gone from 2,340 down to 1,698. The heaviest loss is with Family Day Care Homes, providers who are licensed to care for up to (6) children in their homes. This is often the only option for rural families where there are not enough children to fill a child care center. There were 844 of these providers in 2010, and that number had shrunk to just 428 by 2019. Because 75% of Alabama is considered rural, an estimated 60% of children under the age of five live in child care deserts – census tracts where there is no child care or only enough to serve one-third of the need. Yet, for low- and middle-income families, the cost of child care is often up to 30% of household income, in some areas more than college tuition.
This was before the pandemic. A national survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) during April 2020, found that in Alabama, 90% of programs that responded were closed entirely, and an additional 5% were closed to everyone except essential personnel. Of the few programs open, all reported operating with less than 50% capacity. Also, 55% reported laying off or furloughing employees or reported being laid off or furloughed themselves. Another 33% anticipated such actions being necessary in the coming 1-2 weeks. This was in April, and we know that may programs have closed permanently.
The challenges of opening child care programs so that working families can return to work are multiple and have no easy solutions. Extra cleaning, extra equipment, limited numbers, and difficulty obtaining any of the needed supplies are the primary concerns, along with the critical concern of opening with limited enrollment and reduced funding.
View the full results here.
Voters Agree: Child Care Is Essential
May 10, 2020
For many Americans, the scale of the coronavirus pandemic brings to mind the September 11th terror attacks or the 2008 financial crisis – events that reshaped society and how we view the world. While partisanship remains alive and well in American politics, we have seen a remarkable coming together on some of the most important issues facing us today. One such issue is child care. In our combined nearly 40 years measuring public opinion, rarely have we seen such broad agreement among Democratic and Republican voters as we see on the importance of the child care industry to the American family and economy. This is significant and should not be ignored by government decision makers across the country.
In an April 11-15 survey of 1,200 voters across America, we found 87% favored providing enough federal financial support during the crisis to enable child care providers to make payroll and pay other expenses such as rent and utilities. Of the 87% who favored the idea, 59% said they strongly favored it. This sentiment crossed partisan lines with support from 82% of Republicans and 94% of Democrats.
The national survey, commissioned by Save the Children Action Network and Child Care Aware of America, is the first to fully explore voters’ views on the child care industry and the impact of the coronavirus.
View the full article here.
The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) has developed a mobile-app version of The Handbook for Alabama Parents … because babies don’t come with instructions. This mobile app will serve as a new way for service organizations to connect families in Alabama with the many vital resources available to them throughout the state.
“APC publishes a print version of The Handbook for Alabama Parents and updates it every year. It was developed through the collaborative efforts of state agencies and partners serving young children and families,” said Gail Piggott, APC executive director. “The goal is to provide new parents and families with every resource in the state they may need to support the healthiest start in their child’s life.
“The mobile app puts the information in the palm of your hand from prenatal care through your child’s developmental milestones during those critical early years . We hope that every family can now have access to this free resource,” Piggott said.
The app, which is available for download in Google Play and the Apple Store, is completely free and provides helpful information with active links to websites and phone numbers. Anyone with a smartphone can quickly and efficiently access helpful information and available services for families, especially for new parents and those caring for very young children. Because it is digital, it can be updated in real-time when any changes need to be made so that users have minimal delays when reaching out for help.
The Alabama Parent Manual app was developed by OCVapps, a division of OCV, LLC. The app offers quick access to items of interest and is easy to use. In just a few clicks, users can find information in the manual on topics such as:
- Pregnancy and infant care
- Your child’s development
- As your child grows
- Disability and the family
- Family Resources
Users can also easily search for information in the app and receive important alerts from the Alabama Partnership for Children.
“Over 80 percent of people in the United States own and use smartphones as their primary means of communication,” OCV Vice President Kevin Cummings said. “Mobile apps offer agencies a better way to alert, inform and prepare the public. Apps allow public and private agencies the ability to reach and serve families where they are: on their smartphones.”
To find and download it, search “AL Parent Manual” in your app store directly from your phone. For questions or any technical issues, call 334-271-0304.
OCVapps specializes in mobile app development for public health and public safety organizations across the country. Developing more than 500 apps, OCV designs and creates custom apps for state, county and local government agencies.
The Alabama Partnership for Children is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for Alabama’s children from birth to 5 years of age. This public-private partnership focuses on finding ways to use the state’s limited resources most efficiently to ensure that every Alabama child will have the opportunity to succeed in life. For more information, visit AlabamaPartnershipforChildren.org.
| Early Language & Literacy Coordinator (Talk With Me Baby™)
The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) in Montgomery, AL has an opening for a part-time Early Language & Literacy Coordinator for the Talk With Me Baby™ initiative. The Early Language & Literacy Coordinator (ELL-TWMB) supports the Special Projects Coordinator by providing technical assistance and coordinating administrative activities to allow for the successful launch, implementation and support of early language and literacy models across the state. This is an exempt position, and the ELL-TWMB reports to the Special Projects Coordinator.
This position is part-time (20 hrs/wk) , and minimum qualifications include a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related health or human services field, with experience in child care/early childhood, early language & literacy, training and professional development, and data management preferred. The APC offers an opportunity to work with multiple state agency partners, local service providers, parents/families, and advocates to deliver high quality programs and services that promote young children’s optimum development. The agency observes state and federal holidays and has generous annual and sick leave policies. Highly organized and dedicated candidates with a strong work ethic who want to work with a high energy group of supportive professionals in a family-friendly environment are encouraged to apply.
For consideration, please send a resume by January 15, 2020 to:
2595 Bell Road
Montgomery, AL 36117
Or, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “ELL-TWMB Coordinator”.
The average cost of child care in many places in America exceeds the average family mortgage or in-state college tuition: that is outrageous. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the threshold for what is considered ‘affordable’ child care is no more than 7% of a family’s income.l In reality, today that percentage is often closer to 30%, which can completely change the economic well-being of a family. When families struggle, entire communities struggle.
In Alabama the annual cost for high-quality child care takes up from 10.4% to 13.1% of a family’s income. For a state with over 203,000 children under the age of six, with 69% of them in low-income households, the cost can force families to settle for cheap, low-quality and risky child care options so they can support their family financially. It is unacceptable for any family to have to choose between staying home to care for their child or being gainfully employed.
There is help for families through the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) subsidy program. But currently only 30% of eligible Alabama children are receiving this vital child care assistance. That amounts to about 97,950 unserved children at risk.2 That amounts to almost the entire population of Tuscaloosa.3
We are encouraged by Congress’ progress on improving child care quality and access by steadily increasing funding to the CCDBG, which helps to narrow this “child care gap” by providing the needed subsidy for more eligible children. The CCDBG received an historic $2.4 billion increase in 2018, which supports states’ advancement efforts in meeting families’ child care needs.
Alabama saw a 76.5% increase in discretionary CCDBG funds that helped to drive its grant to $93.9 million.4 This increase meant Alabama received $40.4 million more to go toward efforts like eliminating the child care waiting lists, increasing eligibility for low-income families, and providing assistance to serve 4,000 more children. Alabama is also using those additional dollars to ensure subsidy rates support high-quality care and to increase the quality of early childhood teachers through professional development, including those in faith-based programs.
The ask to Congress for 2020 is simple: an increase of $20 million to the CCDBG. Investing in the best possible care for all children not only supports healthy child development and school readiness, but it is a necessary support for working families in Alabama.
For those of us working every day promote the healthy development and education for all of Alabama’s youngest citizens, it’s a no-brainer: when children thrive, entire communities thrive. We encourage everyone to contact their Congressional delegates now and ask them to fight for this game-changing increase in CCDBG funds.
Join us in contact Senator Shelby to thank him and ask for his continued support.
Washington D.C. Office
304 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Telephone: (202) 224-5744
Link to Send Email: <https://www.shelby.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailsenatorshelby<>
FMJ Federal Courthouse
15 Lee Street, Suite 208
Montgomery, AL 36104
Telephone: (334) 223-7303
Fax: (334) 223-7317
Gail Piggott is the executive director for the Alabama Partnership for Children (APC), a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for Alabama’s children from birth to 5 years of age. This public-private partnership focuses on finding ways to use the state’s limited resources most efficiently to ensure that every Alabama child will have an opportunity to succeed in life. For more information, visit AlabamaPartnershipforChildren.org
1 When Child Care Costs More Than a Mortgage, by Ann Bahney, CNN Business, August 29, 2019.
The Business Case for Increasing Child Care: Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Funding, collaborative publication of Alabama Arise, Alabama Partnership for Children and VOICES for Alabama’s Children, July, 2019.
3 Alabama Cities by Population, Alabama Demographics published by Cubit, from the U.S. Census Bureau, annual estimates of the resident population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2018.
4 Report: Enhanced child care funding makes life better for Alabama’s children and families, by Carol Gundlach, July 2, 2019, Safety Net, Economic Opportunity.
Tish MacInnis, the Strengthening Families program coordinator for the Alabama Partnership for Children, has joined the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s (CSSP’S) Early Relational Health Advisory Team. She will be among 12-15 national experts from across the fields of child health, infant mental health, communities, early childhood systems, policy, equity, parent networks and research.
“As the Strengthening Families State Coordinator, Tish has a rich experience in supporting parents and families, helping communities provide support that builds protective factors and resilience, and in working with multiple partners to improve the lives and developmental trajectories of babies in Alabama,” said Gail Piggott, APC executive director. “She will be an asset to this new Advisory Team, and we are glad that our agency and our partners will be connected in such an important way to this new national effort.”
According to CSSP, Early Relational Health (ERH) is a dynamic concept that has emerged in the last few years from leaders in pediatrics, public health, early childhood mental health, and child health policy. ERH is defined as the complex interpersonal interactions between young children (birth – age 3) and their parents, extended family, and caregivers, which can have positive impact on a child’s healthy development.
The purpose of ERH is to elevate the vital importance of the earliest relational experiences and interactions between infants and their caregivers that build the foundations for health, learning, and social well-being. It is multidimensional, building on interdisciplinary research from the fields of child development, social-emotional development, infant mental health, parent-infant observations, neurodevelopment, interpersonal neurobiology, resilience, and trauma.
“This is not about judging or training parenting, but rather recognizing, supporting and strengthening the emergent development of all early caregiver childhood relationships,” states David Willis, MD-Senior Fellow at CSSP. The key elements are:
- maternal and family wellbeing;
- positive, attuned and nurturing caregiver-child relationships;
- a focus on resiliency in the face of trauma;
- an explicit effort to advance equity, family engagement and social supports; and
- a paradigm shift in early childhood to improve child and family health, development.
Beginning in September 2019, Ms. MacInnis and the ERH Advisory Team will have the opportunity to:
- Explore together the concept of ERH and best practice, contribute to the Frameworks Study and co-develop future ERH initiatives
- Advise CSSP on the development of a survey of ERH interest, current ERH activities and best practices across various relevant EC networks (i.e. child health, EC systems, place-based communities)
- Advise Frameworks and CSSP on the interpretation and opportunities that emerge from the focus group discussions of the core concepts and discussions about ERH and possible activities to advance equity
- Advise and contribute to the development of an ERH consensus agenda and strategic action plan
- Advise CSSP on the dissemination and spread of ERH activities
- Advise CSSP on ERH measurement development
The Center for the Study of Social Policy is a national, non-profit policy organization that connects community action, public system reform, and policy change to create a fair and just society in which all children and families thrive. It works to translate ideas into action, promote public policies grounded in equity, support strong and inclusive communities, and advocate with and for all children and families marginalized by public policies and institutional practices. For more information, visit CSSP.org.
The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for Alabama’s children from birth to 5 years of age. This public-private partnership focuses on finding ways to use the state’s limited resources most efficiently to ensure that every Alabama child will have an opportunity to succeed in life. The APC’s Strengthening Families™ initiative is a research-based, cost-effective strategy to increase family stability, enhance child development, and reduce child abuse and neglect. It is supported by a grant from the Alabama Department of Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention.
For more information, visit AlabamaPartnershipforChildren.org.
In an op-ed published May 21st, A+ Education Partnership President Mark Dixon wrote, “The bottom line is that children who cannot read on grade level by the fourth grade are unlikely to graduate.” Dixon wrote this in support of Alabama House Bill 388 — the Alabama Literacy Act — which would require that children not be promoted to the 4th grade if they have not met the 3rd-grade-level reading proficiency standards.
The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) and its partners statewide agree that all children should be prepared for success in school and beyond, and they are working hard to elevate awareness around the importance of children developing early language and literacy skills; even before they are born. APC’s “Talk With Me Baby” and “Read Right From The Start” programs effectively promote and encourage the necessary early literacy activities for all children to develop healthy language and literacy skills during the first 5 years – the most critical time for their brain development.
Read more about the APC “Talk With Me Baby” and “Read Right From The Start” programs, and help share the vital resources they provide for parents, early child care professionals, home visitors, and teachers in 0-5 classrooms. It will take every person who engages with moms-to-be, families, babies and toddlers to impact the trajectory of every child’s life – reducing the number of children who would need to be held back in the 3rd grade.
Click here to read the op-ed published by Alabama Daily News.
The Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) was awarded $26,000 for new books that will expand the APC’s mission: to work in partnership with families and organizations to ensure that all Alabama children (birth to five) get everything they need to develop to their fullest potential.
“We want every child in Alabama to have access to a variety of age appropriate books, which will help give them a strong foundation for building emerging literacy skills,” said Gail Piggott, the APC executive director.
The APC applied for the grant in collaboration with Reach Out and Read-Alabama, the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, and the office of the Governor as an effort to help bolster the Alabama Campaign for Grade Level Reading. APC will use the funds in partnership with Reach Out and Read-Alabama to put books in the hands of children and their families in under-resourced communities.
“In launching the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, my mission was to promote literacy among at-risk children. That also means providing access to quality books,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “I’m proud that this First Book project brings us closer to reaching that goal.”
Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational success in the United States.1 Research indicates that just the presence of books in the home improves educational outcomes, yet low-income communities across the U.S. are plagued by vast ‘book deserts’ – with one community having only a single book per as many as 830 children.2 Additionally, members of the First Book Network, who exclusively serve children in need, have indicated that without First Book, the children they serve would have access to very few books, if any at all.3
“With this award, our pediatric healthcare providers will continue to prescribe new, high-quality books to the children we serve,” said Polly McClure, Reach Out and Read-Alabama Statewide Coordinator. “Providing these books at checkups encourage parents to read together daily, which is essential in literacy and language development in their child.”
First Book, the non-profit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need, awarded the funds as part of its OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation. This national program will give more than $4.7 million in funding to distribute 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities in 33 U.S. states and territories.
“We know that access to books and eBooks makes a significant difference in a child’s future success,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO, and cofounder. “Children do not thrive in deeply under-resourced environments, and too many of the schools and programs have far too little. This deprivation has long-term consequences for the children, their families, their communities and our nation. This could not be more urgent. With the OMG Books Awards, First Book, the Alabama Partnership for Children and Reach Out and Read-Alabama are investing not only in the future of the kids we’re reaching, but in the overall wellbeing of our nation.”
Awardees will use the funding to select books from the First Book Marketplace (www.fbmarketplace.com), First Book’s award-winning eCommerce platform, that best meet the needs of the children they serve. Alabama was among 9 states in the first cycle of awards. Additional awards will be granted throughout 2019.
Eligible educators, librarians, child care providers, and others serving children in need can sign up to receive resources from First Book outside of OMG Books Awards at firstbook.org/join. For more information, please visit firstbook.org.
1 Sikora, et al. DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.10.003
2Susan B. Neuman, Naomi Moland. “Book Deserts.” Urban Education, 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0042085916654525
3First Book Member Survey, 2016
News Release Contacts:
Gail Piggott, Alabama Partnership for Children, 334-271-0304
Polly McClure, Reach Out and Read-Alabama, 205-223-0097
Dianna Tullier, AL Department of Early Childhood Education, 334-224-3171
Nick Moore, Education Policy Advisor to Governor Kay Ivey, 334-353-0705
Melanie Boyer, First Book, 202-639-0114, email@example.com
The Alabama Partnership for Children is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for Alabama’s children from birth to 5 years of age. This public-private partnership focuses on finding ways to use the state’s limited resources most efficiently to ensure that every Alabama child will have an opportunity to succeed in life. For more information, visit SmartStartAlabama.org
Reach Out and Read-Alabama is a program of the Alabama Chapter – American Academy of Pediatrics. The evidence-based Reach Out and Read program builds on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children, beginning in infancy. Contact Polly McClure for more information: visit www.roralabama.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education is the state home visiting lead agency that houses the First Teacher Home Visiting Program and First Class Pre-K. The evidence-based models of service delivery used focus on improving health outcomes for families and children, as well as better preparing both parents and children for entry into the education system. For more information, visit www.children.alabama.gov.
First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. Through sustainable, market-driven models, First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by making new, high-quality books and educational resources — including sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more — affordable to its member network of more than 400,000 registered educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more learning materials than any other program of its kind: 175 million books and educational resources worth more than $1.5 billion, reaching more than 5 million children annually across the U.S. and Canada.
First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator that brings best-in-class research to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources.