News from the Executive Office

ALICE

The United Way is undertaking an ALICE project in Maryland – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.  It’s part of a nationwide study of those struggling in America and, in our case, an effort to identify what’s unique about Maryland.  I’m on the Research Advisory Committee for the project here because of Maryland Family Network’s command of the data about child care, both the supply and demand. (more…)

Moonshots in Education

Recently I was invited to hear Esther Wojcicki address a group of graduate students and faculty at the Johns Hopkins School of Education.  She called her presentation, Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom.  A practical, down-to-earth person who likes to figure out how to make things work and then do it, she was stymied when she began teaching in public schools.  Eventually she said “to _ _ _ _   with the rules,” and did things her way, eschewing required curricula and hoping for the best when her students took conventional exams.  Her pupils were wildly successful, her classrooms burgeoned, and her approach has become a rallying cry among progressive educators.  It’s summed up in this aphorism:  Instead of a sage on the stage, become a guide on the side.  Though she teaches English and journalism to high school students in Palo Alto, her message is one that the gurus of early childhood education also espouse.  See the works of Stanley Greenspan or Magda Gerber, for instance.  Follow the children’s lead!  Trust the babies!

New Principal

Not long ago I shadowed a relatively new principal who runs a K-8 school.  It was a long day for the boss – 8 am to almost 6 pm – with plenty of challenges along the way.   Three big difficulties were readily apparent.  First, the school’s design is cold, rambling, open, and therefore impossible to navigate efficiently or to use comfortably for play during inclement weather, classes, and meals.  The fixed operating costs related to the physical plant leave minimal discretionary funds for equipment and supplies, let alone extra staffing, which would really help in the management of transition times, to say nothing of student academic needs, after-school activities, field trips, and so on. (more…)

Building Core Adult Capabilities

Maryland’s Family Support Centers are two-generational programs that work with both parents and their very young children at the same time, in the same location.  A recent report by the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard describes the research and findings behind the lessons we’ve learned about how best to support adults as they work or study while caring for an infant or toddler. (more…)

IMG_2993What a Two Can Do

Refer to himself by his first name rather than “I,” as in “Albie up, Mommy,” “Albie wants to play.” “Manna help Albie” and sometimes, “Alan help you,” meaning Alan, please help Albie (me).”

Feed himself with a fork or spoon.

Ask for a specific fork (the strawberry fork).

Drink from a cup with two hands. Ask for the cup he wants (“No, not that one, the red one!”)

Scoop out half an avocado with a spoon.

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The Most Important Piece of Furniture

Margaret Williams was interviewed live this morning on Fox 45’s Good Day Baltimore. She talked about the most important piece of furniture in your home – the dining room table – and all of the fun and healthy bonding activities parents and kids can do around the table. On March 19th from 10 AM – 5PM, MFN will be sponsoring the Family Table Zone at the Fox 45 B’More Healthy Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center. This is a great opportunity to remind families how very important it is to spend time together and connect – especially during the first five years. Join us!

Facebook and EY Research

A colleague at MFN recently sent me a link to early data from an extensive study by Facebook of its users, Meet the Parents. It’s no surprise to find that parents of children under 18 years of age report that they have access to more information than their parents had when they were raising children. Other early findings from the global research is highlighted in this article.

EY, the international tax and business advisory firm, found in its recent study that “ . . . many parents report wanting paid time off, more flexible hours, and help paying for the astronomical cost of child care.”  Around the world, EY reports: “Managing work and family responsibilities for US Millennials is proving difficult.  Millennials (78%) are almost twice as likely to have a spouse/partner working at least full-time than Boomers (47%). Consequently, “Finding time for me” is the most prevalent challenge faced by millennial parents who are managers in the US (76%) followed by “getting enough sleep” and “managing personal and professional life” (67%).” Read more here.

If we want healthy, happy children, we have to find a way to support their parents. Working to improve the quality and affordability of child care and to provide paid parental leave are two of MFN’s major activities this year.

Changing the World

A fascinating article about the Ford Foundation in the January 4, 2016, edition of The New Yorker got me thinking about MFN’s foundation funders who support our mission — MFN ensures that young children and their families have the resources to succeed. The profile of Ford by Larissa MacFarquahar begins with a comprehensive litany of the challenges to conquering inequality, and in our case, that means giving all Maryland children a great start in life. (more…)

Voters Support Early Care and Education

As we get closer to the primaries, it’s important to know where your candidates stand on issues of importance. For Maryland Family Network supporters, that includes early childhood matters. Apparently, lots of other voters care about these issues. See the December 24 issue of Exchange Everyday for a quick synopsis of data related to early care and education professionals. It’s reprinted here for convenience. (more…)

Getting to Yes

How awful it is to be losing a US Senator like Barbara Mikulski who champions the interests of very young children and gets decision-makers with different points of view to agree and advocate those interests. We will have choices when we select Senator Mikulski’s replacement, and we should vote for the one who can get people together to get to yes.

Here’s an excerpt from a press release about her most recent victory.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                        

December 18, 2015
CONTACT:
Matt Jorgenson
Alanna Wellspeak
202-228-1122   

MIKULSKI ANNOUNCES FY16 SPENDING BILL INVESTMENTS IN QUALITY EDUCATION FAMILIES CAN COUNT ON FROM EARLY CHILDHOOD THROUGH HIGHER EDUCATION

Senator puts down payments on recently refreshed and reformed Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Child Care Development Block Grant, and gifted and talented education

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 protects children and families with funding for critical child care and education programs including the recently refreshed and reformed Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and gifted and talented education.

The legislation has passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives and now heads to the White House to be signed into law by the President.

“Education is the opportunity ladder of this nation. Every child deserves their chance to get a foothold on that ladder,” Senator Mikulski said. “In order to out-innovate the rest of the world, we must first out-educate. This legislation will help ensure that America’s children, regardless of the zip code they live in, will have access to quality child care and education they can count on from early childhood to K-12 through higher education.”

Early Childhood Education and Care

Child Care and Development Block Grant

High-quality early childhood education and care has been proven to have positive, lasting effects for children and families, especially since the greatest period of brain development is from birth to age five. High-quality early childhood education and care also supports the nation’s long-term economic security by preparing the next generation of workers, entrepreneurs and business leaders for the jobs of tomorrow.

Senator Mikulski fought to increase CCDBG funding by $326 million over fiscal year (FY) 2015 levels, for a total of $2.761 billion in order to help working families access and afford child care. It builds on passage of her bipartisan legislation, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 which was signed into law last year. This legislation is improving overall program quality, addressing the nutritional and physical activity needs of children in child care settings, strengthening coordination and alignment to contribute to a more comprehensive early childhood education and care system, better meeting the needs of children with disabilities in the program, providing much-needed stability to families, and improving health and safety standards for providers.  This investment will ensure that the critical CCDBG program continues to help families access safe, affordable, quality child care that gets kids ready for school. CCDBG serves more than 1.5 million children each month, including 19,000 in Maryland, while their parents work or attend school.

Specifically, the CCDBG legislation requires stronger inspections of child care programs; requires comprehensive background checks for providers; strengthens health and safety standards by requiring child care workers be trained in CPR and first aid, prevention of SIDS and child abuse and responding to food allergies; promotes stability by ensuring families can stay in child care programs for an entire year so that if working parents get a small raise that puts them above the income threshold their children are not kicked out of the program; and improves program quality through training the childcare workforce in developmental, physical and nutritional needs of kids and gets kids ready for school.

“Working parents across Maryland and the nation rely on child care that is available, affordable, reliable, safe and exceptional. That’s what every parent wants for their children,” Senator Mikulski said. “With this bill, we accomplish four things – increase participation of low-income and other vulnerable children in high-quality child care, promote stable and continuous care, ensure program integrity and accountability so that parents have peace of mind, and improve overall quality and coordination of early childhood programs. Through these efforts, we are fighting for children to succeed in school and beyond.”

Head Start

The spending bill provides $9.2 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start programs, which is $570 million more than FY15 levels. This includes an increase of $141 million for a cost-of-living increase for Head Start grantees, a $135 million increase to expand Early Head Start, and an increase of $294 million to help Head Start programs expands to full-day, full-year services. The Head Start program was created in 1965 and provides comprehensive child development, educational, health and nutrition services to economically disadvantaged children and families with a special focus on pre-school reading and math skills.  Since its founding, research has shown the program has had an effective positive impact. Low-income children who attend the program make significant gains in vocabulary, writing and letter recognition and have access to health care. Traditionally the Head Start program is focused on children aged four to five. The Early Head Start program was incorporated into the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 to recognize the value and importance in investing in children aged zero to three.

“Head Start helps the children who are most in need keep up with their age group in school,” Senator Mikulski said. “It gets children to the doctor to get immunizations or hearing checks. It provides nutritious meals for children who might otherwise go hungry. Early in my career, I worked as a Head Start social worker providing these critical services to some of Baltimore’s most vulnerable children and families.”

Pre-School

This legislation also provides $250 million in funding for the Preschool Development Grants program.  Grants are given to states to help them develop, enhance or expand high-quality preschool programs for children aged four and up. In December 2014, the State of Maryland was awarded $15 million to provide high-quality preschool programs in 18 school districts in Maryland.

K-12 Education

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

ESEA is the primary source of federal aid to K-12 education. It was first enacted in 1965 and was last reauthorized in December 2015 through the Every Student Succeeds Act. The recently-signed law replaces the failed tenets of No Child Left Behind. (NCLB). It eliminates the one-size-fits-all approach to education generated out of Washington, and moves decision making to the states. Under this framework, there will be federal guidelines, but will be implemented with state-developed methods so Maryland can decide what’s best for Maryland students.

“I think this is a very good job in what has been done here. What we hope to be able to do is make sure that our children are ready for the 21st century. I believe this bill is a down-payment on our children’s future and on our nation’s future,” Senator Mikulski said, who served on a bipartisan, bicameral conference committee that wrote the final bill. “When we spend money on education, the benefit not only accrues to the child, but it accrues to our society. Every time a child can participate in the demands and knowledge of what the 21st century requires, we are going to be in a better place.”

During consideration of the Every Student Succeeds Act, Senator Mikulski fought to save Maryland schools $40 million in federal Title I funding by keeping out a disastrous provision that would have drastically changed the formula to distribute Title I funds nationwide.  The change would have punished states like Maryland for investing in their education system, creating winners and losers among low-income families in different regions and abandon some students while helping others.  Title I – the federal government’s only program devoted to closing achievement gaps between high-and-low poverty students – ensures that critical federal education dollars reach and support students with limited resources, as well as provide additional education supports. The spending bill includes an increase of $500 million, for a total of $14.9 billion.

People Who Know

Those who support families in great need – parents and children involved in the child welfare system, who are homeless, who are disenfranchised by incarceration or lack of documentation, who are poor and un- or under-educated – these are the people who know firsthand how mothers and fathers struggle to care for their children and how our systems, though large and expensive, aren’t sufficient to the task of breaking the cycles – poverty, adolescent parenting, failure in school, poor health outcomes, and so on.  Here’s a note that one of those supporters sent to Maryland Family Network.  The author, like me, realizes that public policy advocacy is every bit as important as the services we provide; if we don’t speak out for what’s needed, we’ll never get it. Maryland Family Network’s Public Policy Director, Clinton Macsherry, likes to quote Madonna:  “If you want to get what you want, you have to ask for what you want.” (more…)

Pay for Success

A few in Maryland have been looking into the feasibility of using pay-for-success strategies to finance early care and education. Such approaches, e.g. social impact bonds, are used to raise money to invest in programs that prevent negative outcomes that cost money, thereby saving money, and returning the investment to the funder with interest. Today I was on a phone call about investing in opportunity housing (housing in non-racially and non-economically impacted communities) because it has been demonstrated to reduce obesity and asthma (see diagram of what’s involved, below). Several years ago, I was on a state task force that looked at the strategy for various purposes, including return-diversion programs for juveniles.

We’re desperate enough to get quality programs for the very young to scale, so we’re willing to entertain these complicated schemes. But they are expensive, they reward wealthy investors, and they cost more to do than straightforward, publicly funded programs because of the transaction costs. Why not just invest in good programs that have demonstrated that they deliver success?

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Margaret Williams and Judge Ellen Heller.

Margaret Williams and Judge Ellen Heller.

Though Judge Ellen Heller’s name has been familiar to me for years and years, it’s only been in the last five or so that I have had the opportunity to work with her, the driving force behind the development of the Weinberg Early Childhood Center at the East Baltimore Community School (Henderson Hopkins). An enormously complex project with a plethora of prominent players, the grand vision has continued to move toward full realization not only because of Ellen’s power and influence, but also because she believes in young children and strengthening their families and communities. She brings her probing analyses, patient listening, astute insights, and sheer determination to the daunting task of building a mixed-use and mixed-income building, program, and neighborhood. And she’s a kind, generous, gentle person; working with and learning from her is a joy. I am so grateful I’ve had the opportunity to get to know and spend time with Ellen.  And glad every day that I named my daughter Ellen, though I could not know at the time that Ellen Heller would be one of my real-life heroes.

FCS ANNOUNCES NEW LEADERSHIP

There are two characteristics that all great Family Support Centers (FSC) have in common: a great director and a great sponsoring (or delegate) agency. And you need both for a great FSC, so we pay close attention when there’s a change in leadership, such as the one announced recently by Family & Children’s Services of Central Maryland. Here’s an excerpt from their press release: (more…)

L to R: Margaret Williams, Executive Director, MFN, Steve Schuh, Anne Arundel County Executive, Stacey King, Director, Annapolis Family Support Center, and Carnitra White, Director of the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services.

L to R: Margaret Williams, Executive Director, MFN, Steve Schuh, Anne Arundel County Executive, Stacey King, Director, Annapolis Family Support Center, and Carnitra White, Director of the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services.

A Very Good Day!

First, the Annapolis Family Support Center cut the ribbon on its brand new playground for infants and toddlers this morning!  Carved out of a piece of downtown Annapolis County park, the Tot Lot is adjacent to the Center and was made possible by federal, state, and local government contributions, along with broad community support from foundations and civic organizations. County Executive Steve Schuh was on hand for the ceremonies. The Director of the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services, Carnitra White, and the Director of the Family Support Center, Stacey King, are dedicated in word, thought, and deed to primary prevention and strengthening families, and they have been wonderful partners with Maryland Family Network over many years. Check out our Facebook page for video from today’s ribbon cutting. (more…)

Once Upon a Time

From left to right: N. Scott Phillips, Walter Gilliam, PhD, Albert Zachik, MD, Margaret Williams, Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD, Steve Rohde, and Brian Eakes.

From left to right: N. Scott Phillips, Walter Gilliam, PhD, Al Zachik, MD, Margaret Williams, Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD, Steve Rohde, and Brian Eakes.

Yesterday evening we held our sixth annual Sandra J. Skolnik Lecture on Early Childhood Education & Advocacy. In a departure from previous formats, we showed a video – Once Upon a Time:  When Childcare for All Wasn’t Just a Fairy Tale – and asked a panel of experts to respond: (more…)

First Five California

Years ago, Rob Reiner funded a campaign to promote the importance of the early years in California, I Am Your Child.  Then a proposition passed in California that raised millions of dollars each year for early childhood activities throughout the state.  Recently a colleague sent me a link to First Five California, the state’s brain center for all-things early childhood.  It’s a marvelous site.  Here’s the link to a wonderful, interactive visual about children’s brain development.  California is so cool!

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Washington County FSC’s 20th

The Washington County Family Support Center threw a huge party on Friday, November 13, to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Founders, funders, and friends turned out in large numbers, including participants from now and then – babies who are now approaching 20, in college or good jobs, and parents who are approaching 40+ or approaching 40, launched on a career, raising happy, successful children – every one of us grateful.

It takes three major ingredients to make a successful Family Support Center (FSC), which Washington County has always been (and more — an EXEMPLARY FSC ). (more…)

10 Reasons to Invest in Early Care & Education

I love helpful lists.  Here’s a handy one published by Bloomberg of ten reasons to invest in early care and education.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-21/ten-reasons-why-early-childhood-education-pays-off

First Five Years Fund Poll

Here’s some information you can use! What’s below is directly from the First Five Years Fund’s email of 10/20/15.

For three years running, the First Five Years Fund’s annual bipartisan poll shows that early childhood education is a national priority for Americans, regardless of party.

Now more than ever, voters see quality early childhood education as a necessity for today’s families and want the federal government to support states as they invest in new or expanded early childhood education programs.

In fact, voters say we have our education priorities reversed, and call for more investment in early education over higher education.

These results are particularly relevant to candidates seeking to connect with voters on family issues, as 84% of voters believe a candidate who supports early childhood education is looking out for working- and middle-class families. What’s more, majorities of critical swing voter groups would be impressed with a candidate who calls for investments in early education—69% of Hispanics, 62% of Millennials, 57% of Moderates, 56% of mothers and 54% of women Independents.

FFYF

Refugee Children

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A young Syrian woman holding a child in a park full of refugees in tents near the train station, waiting for the transport to the European Union on September 5th, 2015 in Belgrade, Serbia.

The photographs and moving images of families fleeing their countries for safety are disturbing.  We know that the trauma of the ordeal will leave its mark on children and adults alike, and that’s the least of the risk.  I’m glad the USA is planning to accept more refugees for resettlement than originally projected.  Here in Maryland, we’ll have many newcomers, adding challenges and richness to our communities. (more…)

Can’t play hard enough on this theme!

Once again, directly from my favorite daily e-newsletter, ExchangeEveryday, here is a reminder of how important play is to young children. (more…)

Our Champion Ed Gold

This week was Maryland Family Network’s Annual Meeting and we celebrated the outstanding commitment of longtime friend and board member Ed Gold. He has stepped down from the Board after a long tenure. Ed served on the board since 1994 and as President from 1998 – 2002. Scott Phillips succeeded him as President and has offered to be a guest blogger this week to share his memories and fondness for Ed. (more…)

Child Care in State Economies

The Committee for Economic Development just completed an analysis of the economic impact of child care across the country.  As its website states, “Child Care in State Economies examines the child care industry’s effect on parents’ participation in the labor force, and provides extensive details regarding the industry’s state economic impact, including: usage rates, the role of public funding, revenues, and business structure. The report was commissioned by the Committee for Economic Development, produced by the economic firm, Region Track, Inc., and generously supported by the Alliance for Early Success.” (more…)

Ralph E. Moore, Jr.

I’ve known Ralph Moore for over thirty years. I think we first met when I volunteered for Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. Over the years, no matter where he’s worked, he’s been a community activist, fighting for the interests of Baltimore’s residents. So I paid attention when he posted this on the Baltimore Lift Facebook page. (more…)

Maryland’s Baby Facts

One of the national organizations that I admire, ZERO TO THREE, has just released the latest version of  State Baby Facts, a colorful, easy-to-read four pager organized into the categories of good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences.  You can read the Maryland report here. (more…)

What’s the purpose of a happy childhood?

When the Family Support Center network was a line item in the budget of the Department of Human Resources, the network was justified as a strategy to prevent child abuse and neglect, long-term welfare dependency, failure in school, and other negative family outcomes.  (more…)

Congressional Resolution on Child Care

For those of you who are struggling with the cost of child care – or perhaps have found other arrangements for your child or children in order to avoid the high cost of child care – you will appreciate the resolution introduced last week by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings is a member). (more…)

My Sister’s Place

I start every day with a shower and shampoo, clean clothes, and a good breakfast. Taking the time for all of this helps me feel presentable and ready to face the world. But for thousands of Baltimore’s homeless, a chance to bathe and wear clean clothes is a luxury. (more…)

Diapers and Depression

The connection between diapers and depression is not what you might be thinking.  A recent article in the Atlantic presents the findings of a study published in Pediatrics in 2013.  Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine found that not being able to afford diapers increases a mother’s stress level and weakens her confidence in the ability to parent. (more…)

Kids Count

One of the most useful resources available about children in Maryland is the Kids Count Data Book, produced annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. (more…)

IV-E Waiver

I spent a day this week in a technical assistance session hosted by Casey Family Programs.  The participants were representatives from Maryland’s state and local child welfare agencies.  I was invited because family support and child care are key to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.  The group is working on what’s called the IV-E Waiver:  developing new approaches to reducing child maltreatment by shifting the use of federal funds from mostly treatment to predominantly prevention services.  At this stage of the state’s IV-E planning process, local Departments of Social Services are preparing to write concept papers that outline their proposed approaches.  Several of the plans will be selected to receive about $8.9 million annually in waiver dollars. (more…)

Construction in Cherry Hill

I used to be a Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Housing and Community Development/Housing Authority of Baltimore City.  I know from the inside how hard it is to get work done.  At that time and to this date, there have been lots of complaints from customers – citizens and others — about how hard it is to get projects done in the City. (more…)

Nancy Kramer

Friend, mentor, leader, Nancy Kramer died on June 17. No one knew more about high quality child care, the development of young children, and the skills needed for the care and nurturing of the very young – by parents and providers – than Nancy.  Word-of-mouth led my husband and me to seek a slot for our daughter Ellie at Downtown Baltimore Child Care (DBCC), founded by Nancy in 1983.  Thankfully we were admitted, and Ellie thrived there, and I became a board member.  The board then, as now, was dominated by parents whose children attend the center.  And much later, Ellie herself became an early childhood educator.  Nancy recommended Bank Street College for Ellie’s master’s degree, and it served her well.  Right up until she had her own child, Ellie worked for years in early childhood education as an intern, assistant teacher, and lead teacher. (more…)

Top 100 Women 2015

The Daily Record’s Maryland’s Top 100 Women is an annual selection process and award ceremony, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year on June 1.  Along with many familiar names and faces, including influential State legislators, a number of friends and trusted colleagues were selected for the 2015 honor.  (more…)

six for Saturday

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Steve Rohde, Deputy Director, Maryland Family Network

One of MFN’s Deputy Directors, Steve Rohde, lists his major accomplishments each week.  This week’s was impressive.  It may give you some insight into the inner workings of the State Coordinating Entity.  (Steve’s list is in bold; my comments follow.) (more…)

EHS-CC Orientation

What a perfect prelude to a three-day orientation to the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grant that Maryland Family Network was awarded recently:  a visit with my 17-month old grandson!  Playing in the yard with water, running through the trees at the arboretum, and exploring the properties of sand at the beach were a lot more fun than sitting in windowless hotel rooms listening to trainers! (more…)

Impressive Men

Last week I had the chance to hear two very impressive men speak. The first, Stanley A. Levi, has been the Executive Director of Family and Children’s Services for almost 30 years. At his retirement party, FSC’s board chair reminded us of the nearly 170-year history of the organization, and Stan himself talked about FSC’s partnership with Maryland Family Network and many other public and private organizations. Stan and a group of successive Family Support Center Directors have been running the Park Heights Family Support Center for over twenty years. We greatly appreciated his responsiveness, transparency, and commitment when it came to finding resources and providing guidance. He has been a true “friend of the family,” and I’ll miss him.
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responsibilities of the nonprofit board

I recently was asked to participate on the board governance work group of a relatively new organization of which I am a board member.  Having participated on the board of Maryland Nonprofits (back then, it was the Maryland Association of Nonprofits or MANO), served as its board chair, chaired its Standards for Excellence Committee as the, by now, well known Maryland Standards were developed, and led its National Standards for Excellence Advisory Board, I was delighted to have the opportunity to return to the issues of board performance from a different perspective. (more…)

Death at an early age

When I was in college, I read Death at an Early Age, and, like The Feminine Mystique and Black Like Me, all written and published and read (by me) around the same time, it changed my life forever. (more…)

Frank Porter Graham

One of America’s foremost early care and education research organizations is the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It has served for over ten years as the principal investigative agency for the evaluation of Educare programs, perhaps the most well-funded and ambitious early childhood initiative in America. (more…)

Income and Brain Size

Here’s a surprising report from one of my favorite daily e-newsletters, Exchange EveryDay, written primarily for child care operators. The original research is reported in Nature Neuroscience. (more…)

Your Little Rocket Scientist

Every now and then there’s a succinct piece of information that seems particularly family friendly.  Here is one of them, brought to you by your federal government!  It’s called The Milestones of Your Little rocket Scientist’s Development. (more…)

Quality of Life Summit

Recently Maryland Nonprofits held a ½ day event called the Quality of Life Summit. The general idea was to inspire nonprofits, business, and government to think about changing how we’re trying to accomplish our missions because, over the last 50 years, we’ve made little progress. Perhaps the most provocative speaker, Gar Alperovitz from the University of Maryland, impressed the audience with his facts about real wages (practically no increase), the divide between the wealthy and everyone else (huge and getting bigger), and other dismal statistics, e.g. there are over 45 million Americans currently living below the poverty line. (more…)

everyone is a cheerleader and everyone is a star!

I am pleased to welcome guest blogger, Linda Ramsey, Deputy Director Family Support at Maryland Family Network. 

As I look at the pictures of our parents who have successfully completed the Parent Leadership program, I see smiling faces filled with accomplishment, pride, confidence, and belief in self….that’s what this is really all about and I couldn’t be more proud of them. On the first day of the program they arrive not knowing what to expect and we see the anxiety and self-doubt, but we also see a desire to learn something new and behind their faces there are dreams of a better life for their children and themselves. For many, this is the first experience where others have asked them what they think, what they’d like to do with their lives or what they want to be, and to give them an opportunity to discuss the challenging but rewarding job of being a parent. (more…)

75 Years of Experience

75 years of experience is a lot — and they’re still going strong! (more…)

Bond Bill Saturday

It’s Saturday, and I’m back in Annapolis for Bond Bill Saturday, with hundreds of others seeking funds for capital projects. (more…)

“but he was still hungry…”

Nancy Pelton, the Acting Director of the Baltimore City Child Care Resource Center (BCCCRC – or as we call it “B Triple C-R-C”) put on a wonderful conference, Baltimore City Children’s Emotional Wellness, this past Saturday, March 7. It was a sell-out crowd and even with the snow and ice still on the ground, 95% of those registered showed up. (more…)

a legislative hearing

I’m sitting in a hearing room in Annapolis. During Session, I tend to spend hours in rooms like this. There will be 17 bills heard today. The room is packed with people – some will testify, some are observing, others are available to answer legislators’ questions that can’t be answered by the presenters at the speakers’ table. And I’m thinking what a strange activity a bill hearing is: necessary for transparency and an opportunity for input, but perfunctory in the sense that most often, the critical work on bills happens before and after a bill hearing.  (more…)

maryland family network day in annapolis

Maryland Family Network Day in Annapolis – held this year on February 3 – is a major production.  While it takes about 30 MFNers to make the day itself go smoothly, there is only one person who moves all the machinery behind the production:  Gail Guillard, Training Director for the network of Family Support Centers.  Working closely with the Training Assistant Michelle Argent, Gail devotes hundreds of hours to the planning, ordering, writing, arranging, categorizing, calling, sorting, hauling, cleaning, directing, energizing, following up, checking and rechecking that needs to be done.  She’d probably be the first to say that she couldn’t do it alone, but she pretty much does! (more…)

just the facts ma’am

I’m preparing remarks to give before the House Budget Subcommittee on Education and Economic Development. The facts are my favorite part. Here are a few of them. (more…)

the president’s plan part Two

The President’s plan on child care and early education, part of which was outlined in my last blog post, includes several other components of note. Again, this is excerpted from a summary prepared by the National Women’s Law Center. (more…)

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