We have already started the year off right by attending some fun community events. The Coalition was invited to table our information at the opening of a new Cross Fit gym in the local area. It was the perfect opportunity for these moms and dads to learn about early education and getting in shape! The event drew an estimated 200 people with a special visit from Mayor Michael Udine of Parkland!
Just in case you missed it! Kathy Wininger, Board Member of the Coalition and Director of the Appleseed Preschool, helped the Coalition out with WPTV by shooting a segment on the most useful applications for youngsters. Take a look! http://www.wptv.com/news/science-tech/top-5-education-apps-for-your-child
The Just Read Florida! We will be celebrating literacy by encouraging local child care providers to participate in the Florida Department of Education’s (FDOE) sixth annual statewide event, Celebrate Literacy Week, along with the partnership of Florida’s Office of Early Learning, school districts across Southeast Florida, and numerous other state agencies throughout Florida. Child care providers can support this effort to promote literacy in their homes, centers and schools by reading ‘Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus,’ by Mo Willems (for infants and toddlers) and ‘Time to Sleep,’ by Denise Fleming (for three, four, and five year olds).
February 6-8, 2015
The International Kinetic Art Exhibit and Symposium is the second FREE biennial event.
· Tour sixteen iconic kinetic artworks installed outdoors in east Boynton Beach.
· Participate in the first Kinetic Connection, a community-based/created kinetic artwork.
· Join special S.T.E.A.M. learning based youth workshops and see the Solar Tree kinetic art student exhibit!
· Enjoy over 60 Indoor kinetic artworks and site specific installations.
· Interact with kinetic art influenced inventions and technological innovations.
· Attend engaging and educational presentations.
· Meet international kinetic artists!
The International Kinetic Art Exhibit and Symposium was created by the Boynton Beach Arts Commission and produced by the City of Boynton Beach through its Art in Public Places program. It’s supported by Equity One, Inc., Kinetic Art Organization (KAO), International Sculpture Center, Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, Buffalo Wild Wings, Boca Bearings, Hacklab, Solartree Project, Coastal Star, Neighborhood Gallery, Schoolhouse Children’s Museum and Learning Center, The Secret Garden Cafe and the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. The FREE biennial event is created to connect the public to one-of-a-kind visual experiences.
For more information, please visit their website: http://intlkineticartevent.org/
Articles of Interest
Tampa Bay Tribune
TAMPA — What do you do with kids who are too big for car seats but too little for a standard seat belt? The Florida Legislature says it has the answer, though some child advocates say the new law that takes effect on Jan. 1 doesn’t measure up to the rest of the nation or to recommendations of national safety experts.
After years of relentless pushing, child safety advocates persuaded Florida lawmakers to pass a law this spring designed to further protect children in moving motor vehicles. The law was signed by Gov. Rick Scott in June.
The law requires children to be put in federally approved car restraint seats through the age of 3 and either a car seat or booster seat, depending on the size of the child, for kids 4 and 5.
Until the law kicks in on Jan. 1, Florida will be one of only two states that do not require child booster seats for children after they turn 4.
“We’ve been working on this bill for 14 years,” said Karen Morgan, public policy manager for AAA The Auto Club Group in Tampa. “It’s been a long time.”
Still, there is a way to go,she said. The state still does not follow American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations that children be restrained in booster seats until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall.
“Many states have moved to require child-safety laws through the age of 8,” she said.
Under Florida’s new law, a violation could cost up to three points on a license for the driver and an unspecified fine set at the discretion of the judge, Morgan said. The points can disappear, too, if the driver takes a safety class.
There are exemptions, including children being driven by unpaid drivers who are not in the child’s immediate family, children being transported for medical emergencies and children with a medical condition necessitating an exception. Parents bear the responsibility of putting their children in seats in cabs and limousines, and the operator of the for-hire vehicle is not liable, the law says.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says children improperly restrained when in traffic accidents is the leading cause of death for American kids between 5 and 14.
Charles Paidas, director of pediatric trauma surgery at Tampa General Hospital and vice dean of clinical affairs and graduate medical education with the University of South Florida, said seeing children hospitalized because of improper restraints in vehicle crashes is traumatic.
“I would say the entire health-care continuum is frustrated and saddened, from nurses and doctors to pharmacists and therapists,’’ he said. “It’s not just the child, either. We see what these devastating injuries do to the families as well.”
He applauded the efforts to bring about changes in the law. “It’s a little step,” he said, though he admitted the new law falls short of where most other states are.
Paidas said about 100 children a year undergo trauma surgery at Tampa General Hospital, many of whom would not be so severely injured if they were in the proper car seats or booster seats. Proper restraints, he said, could cut those serious injuries in half.
Bevin Maynard, child advocacy supervisor at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, sees a lot of children injured in car crashes who weren’t properly strapped in. She helped spearhead the lobbying effort to get the law changed.
“It was a challenge,” she said.
Over the past few years there have been a lot of child advocates pushing for the law, but no single voice, she said. Last year, Maynard and others formed the Florida Booster Seat Coalition and began lobbying state legislators.
“We traveled constantly to Tallahassee,” she said.
A similar law was passed by the Legislature a few years ago and would have required safety seats for children up to 8 but was vetoed by then Gov. Jeb Bush, who advocated fewer government regulations.
“That was huge,” Maynard said. “At the time, that would have ranked us No. 1 nationally.”
Instead, kids only needed protective seats up to 3 years old and since then, she said, the rest of the nation passed Florida in protecting children in vehicles.
Though the new law requires booster or restraint seats for children up to 6, height has more to do with being safe than anything else, she said. A child under 4-foot-9 inches tall should be in a booster seat, no matter the age, she said.
“The magic number is not weight or age,” she said. “It’s height.”
Maynard said more work needs to be done to bring Florida in line with the rest of the nation, but for now, child advocates are satisfied with this step forward.
“It’s wonderful,” Maynard said. “We have two more ages that are safer.”
U.S. Early, Ed Official:
'No More Exciting Time to be Working in Early Learning’
Libby Doggett, who oversees early-childhood policy for the U.S. Department of Education, has a long history in the field, including work with the National Head Start Association and the Pew Charitable Trusts, where she led the philanthropy's Home Visiting campaign and its Pre-K Now initiative.
But the latest work in early-childhood nationwide is energizing even to this self-described "optimist." Said Doggett: "What's been exciting is to have so many unexpected allies. The business community, the law enforcement community, the faith-based community, others [are] stepping forward and saying that 'These are our children, and we're going to help.' And that's what's made the difference."
Doggett spoke to Education Week as part of the publication's 2015 Quality Counts report, which ranks states on their early-childhood performance and also gives insight into politics, classroom practices, and research surrounding young learners. She shared the department's plans to continue pushing the Obama administration's $75 billion Preschool for All initiative, what she sees as notable successes, and the future of federal efforts around early childhood. The interviews, conducted in October and January, have been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
What do you think about states and municipalities moving on their own to expand preschool?
The research is so very clear. Policy leaders have heard from the business community, the law enforcement community that we've got to have larger, better access and better quality in all of our learning programs. And [state] and city officials are saying, yes, we hear you, and we're not going to wait for the federal government to act. But truthfully, we need every level of government to do more, because this has been such an underfunded area for so long, and the quality still varies. The challenges are immense. We know how to solve them, but it is going to take more resources, and everybody's got to step up.
Everyone's talking about preschool. What is the department doing to bolster the early grades—k-3?
All the reforms that we have put in place over the last couple of years—school turnaround, teacher evaluation and suppport, our work around equity, and certainly our work around flexibility—are all focused on how can we improve the kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades. So that children who go to pre-K come out of there with great motivation and great skills—those are all sustained while they're in the early grades. There's been a tendency, in some cases, for schools to focus on preschool and then to focus on the 3rd grade because that's when kids take the test, and forget about those intervening three years. [Note: No Child Left Behind accountability testing starts in 3rd grade.] I do think our reforms will really make a difference for that.
What would be your dream system of programs and supports for young children?
I'd like to see high-quality programs available from birth?mainly at that point to support the family. They are the first teachers, and the most important teachers over the lifetime of that child. We'd want to make sure there's high-quality child care that's not just caring for those kids, but is an early-learning environment that is seamless, where families don't have to transfer children at noon over to a grandmother's house or from one setting to another to get a full-day program.
We'd like to see, obviously, preschool for 3- and 4-year olds through either Head Start, enhanced child care, or schools stepping up and providing more programs. And then obviously, families need wraparound. Parents who work need before- and after-school care, and we want that to be linked to their learning.
And then finally we want full-day kindergarten and we want high-quality programs in kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade, to ensure that the gains that kids come in with are sustained.
If we got all that, we as a nation would see incredible changes in terms of graduation rates, the quality of our schools and what's going on in classrooms, [and] more people flocking to teach, because teaching in a school where children have gotten a really high-quality early-learning experience from birth is altogether a different experience.
And probably the one important piece in there is we want programs to be voluntary. I think parents are very protective of their children and don't want to be told what to do. We want parents to have choices and make these decisions for their youngest children.
Are we close to taking steps to create that seamless system?
I think what's uppermost in people's mind is, is this actually going to happen? And I want to say a resounding, "Yes, it is." I hope people can refer to [U.S. Education Secretary] Arne Duncan's speech to the National Governors Assocation about six or seven months ago, when he said expansion of high-quality early learning is inevitable. It is going to happen, and I know that the president and Arne Duncan, are not going to stop. Neither am I, until we succeed.
But congressional leaders have not yet shown an interest in taking up program expansion for young children. Who will be your friends among federal lawmakers?
Lots of people are making predictions; I'm not one to do that. I think that early learning will have some new friends in the new Congress and will continue to build in the old friends we've already had. [Note: Doggett named Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate education committee; Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.] It'll continue to be a bipartisan issue. It may continue to be a sleeping issue, but I imagine we will hear it talked about much more than people think.
Photos: Mitchell De Araujo Silva looks through a cardboard tube in a building-block area with Lucia Nassif at Jefferson Elementary School in Rockland, Mass., during a time set aside for play of their choice.—Charlie Mahoney for Education Week. Libby Doggett courtesy of Lillian Mongeau, EdSource
Our state elected officials are already working hard preparing for the upcoming legislative session, which will start the first week in March. There are several bills we will be paying attention to this session. A key bill we will be tracking is regarding improving the quality of early learning, led by State Representative O’Toole. As a follow up to Warren Eldridge’s, Chief Executive Officer at the Coalition presentation to the legislative delegation, we will be meeting with our Palm Beach County elected officials in the coming weeks as their schedules permit to discuss early learning.
Congresswoman Frankel held a press conference with the Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County regarding the announcement of the Early Head Start Child Care Partnership grant. Congressman Ted Deutch and Councilman of Riviera Beach, TC Davis stopped by as well to congratulate the participants. The grant was announced at the White House Summit on Early Education, a gathering of leaders from across the country looking to enhance early childhood education. The money will be used by the Coalition to support a new Early Head Start Program for 150 children between the ages of newborn to three years old in West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Belle Glade and Pahokee. Ten child care centers and 14 family child care homes in Palm Beach County are expected to benefit. The money is part of a $500 million package being distributed across the country. The grant is based off of the Children’s Services Council’s BRIDGES program.
*A special thank you to Kathy Wall, BRIDGES Public Education Manager, and Terri Ferguson, Director at the Riviera Beach Bridges school, we thank you for your help!