Building Back for Children
On November 18th, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better bill. It includes historic, transformative investments in children that will foster an inclusive and equitable recovery for our nation. With $400 billion for child care and preschool education, the bill means:
The Children’s Agenda celebrates this long overdue acknowledgment that high quality child care and early childhood education is a vital public good. There was a time in the US when K-12 education was a private matter. Starting public education with 5- or 6-year olds instead of earlier was an arbitrary starting point. It is one that, today, we know overlooks critical periods in brain development that occur in the first few years of a child’s life. Furthermore, research shows that every $1 invested in early child care and education yields $4 - $9 in the long run with children doing better in school, being more likely to graduate high school and college, and earning more as adults. Investing in early childhood systems is investing in infrastructure.
But the Build Back Better framework is not merely an economic proposition. It is also a transformative statement about our nation’s values. In 2019, only 9% of the federal budget was spent on children. When enacted, the Build Back Better framework will accelerate the reversal of the downward trajectory our nation has been on for years in regard to spending on children. It will also begin the first of many steps to put the United States on par with other countries in our spending on early childhood care and education.
At The Children’s Agenda we know the work is not over. First, the Build Back Better framework must now pass the US Senate where changes to minimize the investment in children may be made. Second, when enacted, New York must be ready to use the funds effectively. We welcome Governor Hochul’s statement this week that child care will be a top priority in her first executive budget. However, we know how much work needs to be done to ensure New York’s child care system – from state agencies down through county governments – has the capacity to implement programs that are affordable, equitable, high-quality, and coordinated. The Children’s Agenda will continue to lead on child care and pre-K education in partnership with the Empire State Campaign for Child Care and, most importantly, with families in our region.
Action Changes Things
In Monroe County, we are fortunate that our Congressional delegation has endorsed the need to build back for children. Senator Schumer has committed to the unprecedented investments in child care and early childhood education laid out in the Build Back Better plan. Senator Gillibrand continues to advocate for the plan as providing critical infrastructure that will help working families thrive. Congressman Morelle, too, is backing the investments in children and families that are in the Build Back Better framework. They need the support of their colleagues in other states to move the Build Back Better legislation forward.
You can help! Forward this newsletter to your friends and family in other states (especially Arizona and West Virginia). Tell them to reach out to their senators and representatives with the message that:
Behind the numbers are the stories of child care providers, families, and children. This month on Raising Rochester, Kristen Rogers joins the show and shares her experiences as a family child care provider. Her motivations for opening her program, the ways she provided high quality experiences for the children, and the unique value of family-based child care provide a lot of insight into providers’ heartfelt dedication. Her decision to close her program after 15 years teaches us about the challenges providers face. From her current position with the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, Kristen shares her insights about how New York can improve the quality of child care by investing in and supporting providers.
In addition to the Build Back Better budget, local governments have also received substantial funding from the federal government to recover and rebuild from the pandemic. The Children’s Agenda has been advocating alongside families and community members to make children a priority for how those dollars are used.
The Children’s Agenda continues to advocate for greater investments in mental health supports for children in the Rochester City School District. This month more than 200 petitions will be presented to the RCSD Superintendent and Commissioners urging them to hire 20 restorative coaches, invest more in help zones, hire more social workers and counselors, and invest in non-clinical mental health and stress reduction supports. Thank you to all the students, families, and community members who signed petitions and to the Interfaith Collaborative for supporting this campaign during Children’s Interfaith Weekend.
Monroe County also has $144 million in federal relief funding. They continue to seek community input on those funding decisions. The last two chances to speak up for children are on December 1st in-person and December 8th online. Make your voice heard by telling the county to:
Keep watch for the annual county budget analysis from The Children’s Agenda, coming soon!
Parents at the Center
Everything we do at The Children’s Agenda is inspired and driven by youth, families, and community members. Brave voices like the parents who spoke out for mental health supports in RCSD are our guide. For our youngest children who need developmental support through Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education, we have a rapidly growing group of Rochester families organizing under the banner of Children’s Voices Alliance. Their numbers have tripled since their first gathering last month! Their strong voices, along with Parents Helping Parents of Monroe County, will send the message loud and clear in our region that kids can’t wait for the services they need. Follow Kids Can’t Wait on Facebook and amplify their voices.
We are pleased to announce that The Children’s Agenda will soon have a new way of listening to families’ voices. With generous support from the ESL Charitable Foundation, we are launching a 3-year initiative to systematically listen to and document the experiences of 1,000 Monroe County parents each year through polling on issues affecting their lives. This will help us reach more parents including parents who are not part of any formal groups. Their voices will inform our advocacy at The Children’s Agenda and be a valuable source of insight to our entire community, including contributing to ROC the Future’s goal of parent engagement. . Our project will be guided by an advisory council that includes parents and other community members. Stay tuned!
ROC the Day on November 30th for TCA
ROC the Day with TCA on Tuesday, Nov. 30th. ROC the Day is a 24-hour, online event put together by the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes that gives people in our community an opportunity to support all of the not-for-profit organizations doing great work in the nine-county Greater Rochester area.
Click here to support The Children's Agenda using a secure online giving platform. ROC the Day is an easy, one-stop way to support the causes that matter most to you.
Thank you for your support during the holiday season.
Please share with your friends, family, and co-workers your involvement with TCA during ROC the Day.
Congratulations to ROC the Future on their 10th anniversary! The Children’s Agenda is proud to be a longstanding member of this collective impact initiative working to improve education outcomes for Rochester’s children. You can read about the work of ROC the Future’s 70+ community partners and the gains that have been made in ROC the Future’s 2021 Report Card.
TCA in the News
Congratulations to Eamonn Scanlon. Eamonn named to 2021 RBJ Forty Under 40.
Earlier this month, The Rochester Business Journal celebrated the 27th annual Forty Under 40 awards program. The event recognizes and brings together the individuals who will be the future leaders of Rochester. These individuals are not only achieving success in their careers but giving back in meaningful ways to the Rochester community.
We are proud to say that TCA's Education Policy Director, Eamonn Scanlon was named to the 2021 Forty Under 40. Congratulations!
During this month of giving thanks, The Children’s Agenda is grateful to the individuals, organizations, and businesses who support our work. Because of you, we can speak boldly. Special thanks to:
Mr. David Canning and Mrs. Jennifer Canning - Ms. Meredith Dragon - The Education Trust - Empire Justice Center - Mrs. Blanche B. Fenster - Mr. Richard Lourette and Mrs. Diane Dinkins-Lourette - Ms. Carol Love and Mr. Nick Love - Mr. Gregory Partridge and Mr. Douglas Potter - Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy - Martin L. Suter and Suzanne S. Suter Family Fund - Mr. Paul Tremblay and Dr. Jennifer West
Sustaining the work we do together is only a click away. Making a monthly donation to The Children's Agenda supports our efforts to help children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.
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The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.