In case you missed it last month, on July 8th Rally4Babies hosted a virtual rally on Google+. Rally4Babies is a partnership sponsored by Zero to Three (The National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families). The event, hosted by Soledad O’Brien, featured guests Secretary Arne Duncan, U.S. Department of Education, and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department Health and Human Services.
O’Brien and her guests talked about the success of Head Start, Early Head Start, Home Visiting Programs and other programs offering early childhood education. Secretary Sebelius described how babies are learning every day, and emphasized that a safe, secure and stimulating environment both inside and outside the home can “make a world of difference” in language development and other fundamental skills. Along those same lines, Secretary Duncan is concerned because low-income children who do not have the advantage of quality early learning experiences can start Kindergarten a year, to a year and a half, behind their peers.
Backed up by research from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, we know babies begin developing the skills necessary for lifelong learning shortly after birth. The Center’s InBrief report, Executive Function: Skills for Life and Learning, tells us the optimal window for dramatic growth occurring between ages 3 to 5.
Early childhood providers and advocates, such as those mentioned above, already know the early years of a child’s development form the foundation for lifelong learning. However, as Head Start and other early learning programs are struggling with government funding cuts, it is more important than ever to raise awareness. Children need vocal advocates who will push to reverse recent cuts and call for increased support to expand proven programs.
As covered in a previous blog post on early learning, CAP Tulsa currently serves over 2,000 children in the Tulsa area. However, the demand for early learning has hardly been met in our community. There are approximately 2,000 children currently on our waiting list.
Every day our government waits to make early learning a priority, children on waiting lists across the country fall further behind their peers. A critical learning period is closing for too many children in low-income families. As a consequence of this lost opportunity, students living in poverty will have to work harder to catch up with their peers, making school more difficult for them and their teachers.
- You can still watch the Rally4Babies event on YouTube.
- You can sign Rally4Babies petition to the President and Congress by clicking here.
- You can read more about Head Start cuts at Moyers & Company’s website.
- In addition to Zero to Three, other Rally4Babies partners include: ChildCare Aware of America; Children’s Defense Fund; the Pew Charitable Trusts; the American Academy of Pediatrics; the National Women’s Law Center; and many other trusted names in health and education. Be sure to check out their sites for information on early childhood education as well.
- And finally, look for the hashtag #Rally4Babies on Twitter for conversations about Early Learning.