New Policy Paper
We don't always think about how pooling our resources through tax contributions helps children and our community. The public structures and services that we all count on and pay for through taxes make a real difference to our economy and our quality of life, and they foster children's growth. In a new policy paper, Texans Care for Children provides a look at how state, local, and federal taxes in Texas benefit children, as well as other key services that improve our communities and way of life. Read the paper now. ___________________________
Best of the Web
A round-up of children's issues in the news and on the blogs
The way Texas finances its schools and health care has caught the attention of one of the nation's major credit-rating agencies . . . and not in a good way. Watch—and share—this minute of testimony by an expert witness at an April 14th hearing before the Texas House Ways & Means Committee. (Thanks to Dick Lavine at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, who steered us to it.)
Schools Prepare for Anti- Bullying Law
Under a law the Texas legislature passed in 2011, Texas schools have new responsibilities to ensure staff know how to address and prevent bullying. A focus on prevention in schools can really address problem behaviors. Our juvenile justice and mental health policy fellow Lauren Rose spoke to KUT News about how schools can be intentional in addressing bullying head-on.
Texas Kids Need Healthcare
That was the headline on a Houston Chronicle editorial this month, one of several around the state noting that Texas can and should make children more of a priority. Unfortunately, as an Austin American-Statesmanarticle points out, services for children such as Early Childhood Intervention are reaching fewer kids today, due to short-sighted choices made by the 2011 legislature.
On our blog, health policy coordinator Lauren Dimitry shares highlights of her testimony this month on the potential for urban agriculture and community gardening to help curb childhood obesity. Also, new communications coordinator Liz Moskowitz shares photos and observations from a recent staff fieldtrip to the Austin State Hospital. Over on LiveMom, we share some of what we've been up to over the past month on the early childhood education, health care, and budget scenes. And on the Texas Treatmentblog, don't miss new insights on what Texans can do to stand up for Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
Less than 2% of the discussion in recent presidential debates was about children's issues, even at a time when the nation is considering changes in the federal budget that would be "brutal for children," says Voices for America's Children, a national network. Click on the links above for a new infographic and report on the media's election coverage of children's issues, as well as a statement on the likely impact of a proposed U.S. House budget for children.
Resource Spotlight: Children and the 2012 Election
Imagine a candidate for public office stops by to ask for your vote and wants to know your concerns. What do you say about children's issues?
In plain language and compelling detail, the guide lays out the key issues for children, as well as the role our public systems play in securing children's health, safety, education, and opportunity.
- questions about children's issues to ask in candidate forums;
- background on federal programs for kids, including why services exist and how they shape the future;
- strategies for getting attention to on children's issues in your local races; and
- ideas for how to make your voice heard in an election year.
Texans Care for Children is proud to lend a hand in getting this important guide from Voices for America's Children into the hands of Texas voters, office-holders, and candidates for office. Download the guide now.
Partner Spotlight: Kara Johnson on the Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition
Earlier this month, we announced that Texans Care for Children will begin facilitating the nearly 10-year-old coalition known as the Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition, or TECEC. We are working closely with TECEC's executive director, Kara Johnson, who sat down with us to talk about early childhood education policy in Texas and what lies ahead in 2013.
What's the biggest misunderstanding people have about early childhood education?
The oldest misconception out there is that it is “just babysitting.” However, the good news is that there are very few Texas leaders remaining that still think of early childhood education this way. TECEC and its members and partners have spent the last decade educating legislative leadership and community leaders about the value of high quality early childhood education.
One of the most compelling studies on this issue was done in 2006 by the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. The study found that every $1 invested in high quality pre-k, child care, and Head Start programs returns at least $3.50 to local communities. This is a 350% return on investment, which is compelling to our leaders who have to make tough decisions about the budget every session.
Of all TECEC has achieved over the last decade, is there an accomplishment you're especially proud of?
It has been an honor running the Texas early education movement for the past several years. I am most proud of the work of our 6,000 members and partners, which has led to a $125 million dollar investment from the Texas Legislature, as well as 30 bills passed to improve the quality and safety of early learning programs for children ages birth to five in Texas.
I am also very proud that the early education movement always has been and continues to remain a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize the critical importance of ensuring children enter kindergarten school-ready and on level with their peers. By ensuring school readiness upon entry into kindergarten, school districts and taxpayers save millions of dollars not having to reeducate children entering the system behind. Freeing up dollars for other purposes and educating our future workforce is something all Texans can get behind!
What's at the top of the agenda for the coalition in the 2013 legislative session?
I am thrilled that TECEC has already started gathering its members and partners together to discuss potential policy options for 2013. Our first event to that end was “ The Impact of Pre-k in Educating the Texas of Tomorrow, Today,” an event TECEC and Texans Care for Children co-hosted on April 12th at the Texas Capitol. [Editor's note: Click on the link to access presentations from this event.]Two hundred stakeholders gathered together to discuss pre-k quality, child care reimbursement rates/quality initiatives, children with special needs, and other issues impacting the early education field.
TECEC will continue to engage its members and partners in discussions around the 2013 agenda between now and November, just in time for bill pre-filing. I am excited about the TECEC coalition transitioning to Texans Care for Children because this move will ensure an even stronger agenda that reflects all the needs of young children, including access to high quality early education.
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Texans Care is seeking a mental health policy fellow to support our coverage work. Recent graduates of master's level programs are invited to apply to join our team.
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