Half the kindergarten parents at P.S. 101, in the Queens neighborhood of Forest Hills, successfully lobbied the principal for more recess and unstructured time during the school day.

There's a lot going on in child care lately. According to the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), federal child care spending in 2009 stood at $12.4 billion, down slightly from 2008. The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCBDG) is up for reauthorization, bringing issues of child care for low-income families to the fore. The Urban Institute recently released a paper calling for policymakers to help low-income families keep their children in stable care. And the National Association for Regulatory Administration has issued a call to strengthen state licensing for child care.

The state advisory committee in charge of developing a Quality Rating and Improvement System for early-learning and care programs released a report outlining what an upcoming pilot would look like.

Research shows how to help low-income mothers learn to talk to their babies the way more affluent mothers do, and Mississippi districts will be among the first to administer UCLA's national pilot of an early development survey onkindergarten readiness.

On January 6, the BAM! Radio Network released an interesting podcast about Common Core standards for kindergarten through third grade and their potential impact on early learning.

Promoting kindergarten readiness is a hot trend among preschools in Asheville, North Carolina.

Two upcoming conferences of interest to Early Years readers: National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting Programs in Washington, D.C., February 2011; and CAYL Institute's third annual principals' conference in Orlando, Florida, July 2011.

Early-childhood experts say just talking to very young children helps build language and social skills, and say the simplest toys can be the best.

On December 20, the California advocacy group Children Now, released its 2011 report card , which graded 11 aspects of children's health, safety and learning across the state. The report also included an action agenda of 10 items Children Now hopes lawmakers will address in the new year. The highest grade awarded was a B-plus for the state's after-school programming. By contrast, early learning received their average grade, a C-minus. Children Now reports that California's licensed child care centers are only inspected once every five years, while other states inspect annually. Affordability of care is also a challenge. According to the ...

As I reported earlier this month, post-election changes to Iowa's political landscape could affect the state's voluntary, universal pre-K program. Right after the elections, advocates I spoke with were hopeful that newly elected Republican lawmakers would moderate their opposition to universal state pre-K in the face of its popularity with constituents. Recent news indicates otherwise. At a Dec. 15 forum sponsored by IowaPolitics.com, Republican state legislative leaders questioned the value of the state's voluntary, universal pre-K program, which advocates have looked to as a national model. You can see the full story here; read on for highlights. "It's very, ...


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