Nominee for Assistant Secretary for the Office for Civil Rights Refuses to Protect Civil Rights

Whether Kenneth Marcus knows it or not, the position he would take on must enforce all civil rights protections and advocate for kids and families no matter their immigration status.

By Rebeca Shackleford, Education Policy Analyst, UnidosUS

Kenneth Marcus

Kenneth Marcus/YouTube

Next week, the Senate will vote to confirm the next assistant secretary for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education. The high-level position focuses on protecting each child’s civil rights in our nation’s public schools.

But during his nomination hearing on Tuesday, nominee Kenneth Marcus wouldn’t commit to protecting undocumented children.

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CASA at Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School

 By Jennifer Archer, CASA Instructor, Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School

The Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School (MORCS) family kicked off our work with CASA with a trip to the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition (GWHFC). Students in the Youth Advisory Board were discussing the lack of services for homeless people in Los Angeles, and wanted to see what they could do to help.

 

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Mi CASA Es Su CASA: Cultivating Agents of Change to Serve the Latino Community

By Feliza I. Ortiz-Licon, Ed.D., Senior Director, Education Leadership Development

Earlier this month, the country mourned the loss of “The Greatest,” boxer Muhammad Ali. News outlets and social media platforms were inundated with some of Ali’s most memorable quotes, including “the service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” It is this spirit of service and giving back to the community that drives many of the middle school students participating in NCLR’s youth leadership program, CASA-Cultura, Aprendizaje, Servicio, Acción (Culture, Learning, Service, Action). The goal of this service-learning program is to equip students with the necessary skills to identify genuine needs in the Latino community and address them through a two-pronged approach of academic learning and service actions.

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Five Latino Disparities in Education Revealed in New Civil Rights Data

By Viviann Anguiano, Intern, Education Policy Project

Recently, two high school valedictorians in Texas revealed their undocumented status. Yale-bound Larissa Martinez and Mayte Lara Ibarra, holding a 4.5 GPA, declared undocumented status. Mayte and Larissa are true exemplars of academic success and beating the odds. These challenges are apparent in the newly released Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) by the U.S. Department of Education, revealing the continued inequities faced by Latino students, English learners, students of color, and students with disabilities. Here are five racial disparities in American public schools that beg our attention.

  1. Latino, along with American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and multiracial high school students, are 2.66 times more likely to be held back in high school compared to their White counterparts.In the same vein, Black students are 3.75 times more likely to be retained compared to White students.
  2. Latino and Black students are underrepresented in AP courses. These students account for 38% of students in schools that offer Advanced Placement courses, but only 29% of such students enrolled in at least one AP course. English learners, moreover, represent 5% of students in schools that offer AP courses, but only 2% of students enrolled in one AP course.
  3. Black and Latino students in schools that offer gifted and talented education (GATE) programs are 1.76 times less likely to have access to GATE programs than their White counterparts. The difference is even larger among English learners in GATE schools, who are 4.3 times less likely to have access to GATE programs when compared to White students in schools offering GATE programs.
  4. Not only do Latino and Black students have less access to high-level math and science courses, but they are also 1.89 times less likely to be enrolled in calculus courses. English learners are also underrepresented in advanced courses, accounting for 5% of students in schools that offer calculus and only 1% of students enrolled.
  5. Fifty-one percent of high schools with high Latino and Black enrollment have sworn in law enforcement officers. This means that predominately Latino and Black schools have more police and policing than schools with low Latino and Black enrollment.

The CRDC unveils vast disparities in access to opportunity among historically vulnerable populations of students. Latino and English learner students continue to get less access to the resources and supports that lead to academic success. As the nation embarks on a historic implementation of the newly signed Every Student Succeeds Act, it is imperative to strive for closing opportunity gaps for vulnerable kids.

2016 Workforce Development Forum Wrap-Up

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On May 4, NCLR and some of the top business minds in the country convened the annual NCLR Workforce Development Forum in Las Vegas. The goal of the Forum was to help educate attendees on coming demographic shifts in the American workforce and their implications for the economy, as well as to provide best practices in integrating new American workers into the workforce. Attendees, stakeholders, experts, and corporate representatives spent two days discussing how employers and their employees can most effectively work together to create an efficient and conscientious workforce.

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Weekly Washington Outlook — September 28, 2015

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Monday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 1624 – Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Brett Guthrie / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • 136 – Gold Star Fathers Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 313 – Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lynch / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • 565 – Federal Vehicle Repair Cost Savings Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Gary Peters / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 3089 – Grants Oversight and New Efficiency (GONE) Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 3614 – Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • 139 – Ensuring Access to Clinical Trials Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 2061 – Equitable Access to Care and Health (EACH) Act (Sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 3594 – Higher Education Extension Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Bishop / Education and the Workforce Committee)
  • R. 2617 – To amend the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 to postpone a scheduled increase in the minimum wage applicable to American Samoa, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Amata Radewagen / Education and the Workforce Committee)
  • R. 2786 – Cross-Border Rail Security Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Filemon Vela / Homeland Security Committee)
  • R. 2835 – Border Jobs for Veterans Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally / Homeland Security Committee)
  • Concur in the Senate Amendment to R. 2051 – Agriculture Reauthorizations Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway / Agriculture Committee)

On Tuesday, the House will also consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 3596 – Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • R. 3595 – To extend the authorization to carry out the replacement of the existing medical center of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Denver, Colorado, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

The House will also vote on H.R. 3495 – Women’s Public Health and Safety Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy / Energy and Commerce Committee)

On Wednesday and the balance of the week, the House will vote on the following:

  • R. ___ – Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • Legislation related to Continuing Government Funding for FY2016

Consideration of the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1735 – National Defense Authorization Act for FY2016 is possible, as well as a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Senate:

The Senate has scheduled a procedural vote Monday evening on the legislative vehicle for a clean continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11th.

White House:

On Monday and Tuesday, President Obama will be in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. He will attend meetings at the White House the balance of the week.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Senate Judiciary Committee has rescheduled a mark-up of S. 1814, the “Stop Sanctuary Cities Act,” sponsored by Senators Vitter (R-La.) and Flake (R-Ariz.). This mark-up has been postponed several times due to conservative concern with the underlying legislation and a substitute amendment. The bill would block certain funding streams for law enforcement in municipalities with community trust policies; some lawmakers have suggested that this approach is inappropriate. The substitute amendment would impose a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for illegal re-entry, which has faced opposition from those interested in criminal justice reform. Democrats are united in opposition, although some remain interested in creating an alternative policy that would lead to some form of cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement.  Elsewhere, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and the National interest Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Thursday on the fiscal and security impact of the Administration’s recently announced refugee resettlement plans.

Appropriations – Congress has until September 30 to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government. After a procedural vote failed last week in the Senate to pass a spending bill until December 11 that would also defund Planned Parenthood, another vote has been scheduled for Monday evening without the controversial rider. In the House, Leadership has been clear that they will also move to a clean bill sometime this week. Precise details of this remain unknown, however. Both bills do contain a number of “anomalies,” extensions of expiring programs, including E-Verify, EB-5 Investor Visas, and others.

Health – The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a mark-up on Tuesday of budget reconciliation legislation repealing pieces of the Affordable Care Act. Repeals of both the medical device tax and so-called cadillac tax are included. It is likely the House Energy and Commerce Committee will follow shortly with related legislation that will be combined into one bill to send to the Senate. The Committee has held a number of hearings on the ACA, and will continue on Tuesday with an Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee hearing on state-based marketplaces. It is not clear if Senate Committees with jurisdiction over the Affordable Care Act plan to move their own versions of repeal legislation. Under the reconciliation process, the Senate can pass a bill with a simple majority, allowing Republican Leadership to circumvent procedural hurdles that have prevented their priorities from getting to the President’s desk.

Nutrition – While authorization for child nutrition programs expire September 30, these were not included in the continuing resolution that is expected to clear the House and Senate this week. Instead, lawmakers are continuing work to find a path forward on a bipartisan reauthorization effort this fall. However, the Senate Agriculture Committee postponed a planned mark-up of legislation indefinitely, and it is not clear how the House Education and Workforce Committee plans to proceed. Community eligibility and nutrition guidelines are both controversial in the effort.

Taxes – The Senate Finance Committee will convene a hearing on Thursday with the U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro on improper payments. The Earned Income Tax Credit is likely to be a part of this hearing, given many believe that the credit’s complexity lead to error.

Labor – The House Financial Services Committee will mark up a series of bills on Wednesday, including H.R. 1090, which would block the Department of Labor’s “conflict of interest” rule. Elsewhere, the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee will convene a hearing Wednesday on the proposed rule.

Consumer Financial Protections – On Tuesday, Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), will give his semi-annual report to Congress to the House Financial Services Committee. The Committee has also scheduled a mark-up of a number of bills related to the CFPB on Wednesday. Among these, H.R. 957, legislation that would subject the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Inspector General to Senate confirmation, and H.R. 1266 that would change the CFPB’s governing structure from a single Director to a bipartisan commission.

Puerto Rico – The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi will testify.

Education – While conferees have not yet been formally appointed to the ESEA conference committee, staff-level work continues to reconcile the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act with the House’s Student Success Act. There are significant differences between the two bills; notably, neither has strong accountability language ensuring intervention if students are not meeting academic goals. Conferees are likely to be named at some point in October.

Republican Leadership Election – On Friday, Speaker John Boehner announced he would be resigning at the end of October. He outlined an ambitious agenda for the next four weeks including reaching a budget deal, reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, and passing a long-term transportation bill. Yet, all eyes remain on Leadership elections to replace him; these have not yet been scheduled, but could come as soon as this week. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is likely to replace the Speaker, although he is being challenged by Rep. Dan Webster (R-Fla.). The race for Majority Leader is also competitive with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) all vying for the position. A number of members are also running for Whip, including Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), and potentially Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas). The precise details are still taking shape, and it is possible that Rep. Peter Roskan (R-Ill.) could emerge as a candidate for any of these. He has gathered signatures for a conference meeting this week to discuss a plan for the Republican party moving forward.

Weekly Washington Outlook — May 4, 2015

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House is in recess, returning the week of May 11th.

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will vote to override the President’s veto of S.J. Res. 8, a bill that would block a proposed National Labor Relations Board rule on expediting workplace elections in certain circumstances. On Tuesday, the Senate will resume consideration of legislation that would give Congress the authority to review any nuclear agreement with Iran. The Senate also plans to vote this week on a conference report of a joint budget resolution.

White House:

On Monday, the President will travel to New York City to deliver remarks at an event at Lehman College launching the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a new non-profit organization. He will also tape an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, and attend DNC events.

On Tuesday, the President will host a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House.

On Wednesday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.

On Thursday, the President will welcome the United States Air Force Academy football team to the White House to present them with the 2014 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. In the afternoon, the President will travel to the Portland, Oregon area to attend a DNC event.

On Friday, the President will attend an event held at Nike headquarters to discuss how workers will benefit from progressive, high-standards trade agreements that would open up new markets and support high-quality jobs both for Oregon small businesses and large companies like Nike. The President will also make the case that strong bipartisan trade promotion legislation – introduced this month by Senators Ron Wyden and Orrin Hatch – is an important step to ensure our trade policy works for the middle class through strong enforcement provisions, transparency, and the requirement that our trade agreements include high-standards to bring greater opportunity to American businesses, level the playing field for American workers, protect the environment, and raise human rights and labor standards around the world. Afterward, the President will travel to Watertown, South Dakota to deliver the commencement address for the graduating class at Lake Area Technical Institute. Lake Area Technical Institute is one of the top community colleges in the nation, and is recognized for rigorously preparing its students with the skills they need to compete in the 21st Century economy. With a two-year graduation rate more than twice the national average, Lake Area Technical Institute focuses on providing its graduates smooth pathways to high skilled careers with private-sector businesses.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will mark-up several bills on Wednesday, including S. 750, “Arizona Borderlands Protection and Preservation Act.” This bill would allow Customs and Border Protection access to federal lands in Arizona for their patrols. It has been criticized by environmental groups, immigration advocates, and others.

Appropriations – The Senate Appropriations Committee continues to hold hearings this week. The Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White and the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Tim Massad will both appear on Tuesday before the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. Attorney General Loretta Lynch will make her first appearance in her new role on Thursday before the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee. When the House returns from recess, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has indicated he plans to bring the Legislative Branch funding bill to the floor before the end of the work period.

Budget – The Senate is scheduled to vote this week on a conference report on a joint budget resolution for FY2016. The measure maintains discretionary domestic spending at sequester levels, but increases defense spending by $96 billion. It also includes reconciliation instructions, setting the stage for a fight over repealing the Affordable Care Act later this summer. The House passed the conference report last week.

Education – Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wrote in his May memo that he still plans to bring H.R. 5, the “Student Success Act” to the floor in the coming weeks. Without any Democratic support, however, the legislation is rumored to still be short of votes needed for passage. Acknowledging this, Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) has recently signaled openness to a different legislative vehicle for passing legislation to rewrite ESEA. The Senate is likely to take up a bipartisan reauthorization bill in early June. The “Every Child Achieves Act,” which passed unanimously out of the HELP Committee earlier in April, still faces challenges from civil rights groups and others about what has been perceived as a weak accountability system.

Weekly Washington Outlook — April 6, 2015

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House is in recess, returning the week of April 13.

Senate:

The Senate is in recess, returning the week of April 13.

White House:

On Monday, the president and the his family will participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll. The event will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling, and Easter egg rolling.

On Tuesday, President Obama will host an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House; the vice president will also attend.

On Wednesday, the president will depart the White House en route to Kingston, Jamaica.

On Thursday, President Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica and participate in a meeting with Caribbean Community leaders. The president will also participate in a town hall with young leaders. In the evening, President Obama will depart Kingston en route to Panama City, Panama.

On Friday, the president will hold a bilateral meeting with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and participate in the Summit of the Americas CEO Forum. In the evening President Obama will attend the Summit of the Americas Opening Ceremonies.

On Saturday, the president will attend official Summit of the Americas events. The President will participate in a press conference before departing Panama en route to Washington.

Coming Up Next Week:

Budget – When Congress returns on the April 13, the budget process will continue, with House Budget Committee Chairman Price (R-Ga.) and Senate Budget Chairman Enzi (R-Wyo.) wanting to resolve differences in the budget by April 15, the statutory deadline for adopting a concurrent resolution. There is no penalty for failing to meet the deadline, whether by adopting a budget late or not adopting one at all. If no agreement is reached, each chamber can deem its resolution as binding on the spending and revenue bills that come later.

Nominations – When the Senate returns, the chamber may resume consideration of a stalled anti-trafficking bill that has become mired in abortion politics. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said repeatedly that the Senate must complete work on this legislation before he will move to confirm Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General. Last week Senator Kirk (R-Ill.) became the fifth Republican to say he will vote to confirm Lynch, hypothetically assuring her confirmation.

Health – The Senate is expected to vote in mid-April on legislation that would permanently alter Medicare’s sustainable growth rate. This legislation also extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years. It passed overwhelmingly in the House on March 26.

Education – There is considerable speculation House Leadership will try again to pass H.R. 5, an ESEA reauthorization bill, after the recess. The legislation had to be pulled from the floor in February and it is still unclear whether the measure has enough Republican support. In the Senate, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Murray (D-Wash.) are continuing to negotiate a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization bill.  A mark-up has been scheduled for the week of April 13, and it is possible details may soon be announced.

Weekly Washington Outlook — January 20, 2015

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Tuesday, the House will meet at meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. The House will recess no later than 5:30 p.m. to allow a security sweep of the House Chamber prior to the President’s State of the Union address. The House will meet again at approximately 8:35 p.m. for the purpose of receiving, in a joint session with the Senate, the President of the United States. Members are requested to be on the Floor and seated no later than 8:25 p.m.  No votes are expected.

On Wednesday the House will vote on legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • Res. ___ – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives condemning the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that resulted in the deaths of seventeen innocent persons and offering condolences to those personally affected by this cowardly act (Sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe / Foreign Affairs Committee)

The House will also vote on H.R. 161 – Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo / Energy and Commerce Committee)

On Thursday, the House will consider H.R. 36 – Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks / Judiciary Committee)

Senate:

The Senate this week will resume consideration of a bill to require the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline (S.1).  Senators on Tuesday will also gather and proceed to the Hall of the House of Representatives for the President’s State of the Union address.

White House:

On Tuesday, the president will deliver his State of the Union Address at 9:00PM EST.  The vice president, the first lady, and Dr. Biden will attend.

On Wednesday, President Obama will travel to Boise State University in Boise, Idaho to deliver remarks and discuss the themes he will lay out in his State of the Union address. In the evening, the President will travel to Lawrence, Kan.

On Thursday, the president will deliver remarks at the University of Kansas and discuss the themes from his State of the Union address.

On Friday, President Obama will deliver remarks and host a reception of the nation’s mayors at the White House. The mayors will spend the day at the White House interacting with cabinet members and senior White House officials to expand the partnerships between cities and the federal government.

Also this Week:

Appropriations – The House last week passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through September 30. Members also included several amendments that would block implementation and de-fund President Obama’s actions on immigration. Next, the bill will move to the Senate for consideration early in February. The Department is only funded until February 27, but the president has already threatened to veto any appropriations bill including language undoing DAPA and/or DACA.

Immigration – The House Homeland Security Committee will mark-up a border security bill Wednesday afternoon. The legislation sponsored by Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) would require the Department of Homeland Security to establish “operational control” of the entire Southern border by blocking all unlawful entries in five years. High-traffic areas must be completely secured within two years. If DHS fails to meet these benchmarks, political appointees would be prohibited from travelling on a government aircraft, non-essential training, and receiving any bonuses.

Education – The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the testing and accountability systems enacted by No Child Left Behind. The hearing is the first of several expected leading up to a re-authorization of the 2001 law. Elsewhere, President Obama will discuss further his proposal for universal community college in Tuesday’s State of the Union.

Tax – Over the weekend, the White House released a tax plan expected to be a central component to President Obama’s State of the Union. The proposal would close the trust fund loophole, raise capital gains and dividend rates and charge a fee to certain financial transactions. The revenue from these actions would pay for a new $500 credit for two-earner households, an increase in the child care tax credit, reforms to the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and a savers credit to make saving for retirement more accessible. In addition to these, the president has called for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless workers and making the 2009 expansions of the EITC and the Child Tax Credit permanent.

Internet Access – The House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee have both scheduled hearings on Wednesday on net neutrality. The hearings will address legislation designed to prevent service providers from creating two tiers of Internet traffic.

Labor – President Obama is expected to highlight several labor-related issues in tonight’s State of the Union. As has already been announced, he will call for an expansion of paid sick leave. He recently signed an executive order for federal workers and will call on the private sector to follow his lead. The speech may also highlight the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rules which are expected to raise the minimum salary threshold under which workers must receive time and a half for extra hours worked. News accounts have also reported he will highlight legislation requiring workers to receive their schedules two-weeks in advance and a minimum of four hours of compensation if their hours are reduced. Finally, it is expected that the president may mention apprentice programs as a form of job training.

We Must Invest in Early Childhood Education

By Leticia Bustillos, PhD, Associate Director, Education Policy Project, NCLR

ACAdiabetesblog_pic1_resizedMy daughter’s first day in child care was perhaps one of the most difficult days I ever faced as a mom. From the day I started exploring child care options to the night before Isabella’s first day at school, I was fully confident in my decision to take her to the child care center that other parents had recommended. Despite the fact that my mother, who had been her primary caregiver once I returned to work, was adamantly against me taking Isabella out of her care, I was firm in my belief that my daughter would benefit from center-based care, as they would further her social, emotional, and learning development.

But then it was time to say goodbye.

All of a sudden, the decision that was backed up by reams of research and parents’ rave reviews could not stand up against Isabella’s tears and my sudden fear that perfect strangers could not possibly care, nurture, and protect my daughter as much as my mother or I could. In that moment of saying goodbye, I was the worst mother in the world for leaving her in distress in an unfamiliar environment with people she never met but whom I was entrusting with her safety, her happiness, and her early development.

Every day across the country, mothers and fathers rely on a child care system that they hope is safe, inspires joy, and promotes the positive development of their children. While I had the benefit of a background in education to help me identify and seek out the best child care options, not all parents have the same opportunities and must instead rely on recommendations from friends and neighbor—and a great deal of faith—that the choices they make are the best ones for their children. For that reason, the reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is a significant first step in crafting a new vision for the care and education of children for low-income and working families.

In a show of bipartisan and bicameral support, the bill calls for a significant overhaul of the law, last reauthorized in 1996, such that the level of care children receive is of high quality and meets a new standard of health and safety. The reauthorization of the CCDBG requires:

  • Background checks for all child care providers
  • Providers to receive ongoing training in essential health and safety practices to keep children safe while in care
  • Yearly inspections of licensed and licensed-exempt child care settings with the publication of results on a user-friendly website
  • A percentage of funds to be dedicated to help providers meet and sustain higher levels of quality, adopting program guidelines describing what children should know and be able to do, including developmental benchmarks for children from birth to kindergarten
  • The receipt of professional development to best meet the needs of students of multiple age groups, English language learners, and children with disabilities

Additional changes are especially important for low-income and working families, notably the continuity of care provision, which stipulates that all children will receive a minimum of 12 months of service regardless of changes to a parent’s work or income and before a state re-determines eligibility. Moreover, states are required to prioritize the needs of children who reside in communities with high concentrations of poverty and unemployment, such that their investments make available increased access to high-quality early care providers. For Latino families whose primary language may not be English, this renewed commitment to early care and education ensures the needs of their children are met by the stipulation that professional development and training provided to caregivers adequately support the social, emotional, and cognitive development of English language learners.

As a first step, these changes are significant, but more must be done. Though research shows that attending preschool has academic and social benefits, estimates show that more than 60 percent of Latino children ages 3–4 are not in preschool. Additionally, data show that current funding levels only reach one in five children eligible for care, meaning that too many families are left without support and must make difficult choices about the quality of care they can and cannot afford. Proactive investment in early childhood care and education, including increased parental outreach, prioritizing the needs of low-income and working families, and increased funding tied to the improvement of programs will assure parents that their children are safe and receiving the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

Though there were a fair share of bumps and many more tears, Isabella and I survived her first week of care. Despite the diagnosis of an early learning disability, a change in center-based care, and a seemingly endless parade of paperwork and red tape, Isabella ultimately thrived in her prekindergarten experience. Our goodbyes were no longer characterized by tears and despair, but rather by excitement and joy for the friends she would see, the hugs she would receive from her caregivers, and the stories she would tell at the end of each school day. I knew she was happy and safe; now at the age of eight, Isabella is ready to take on the world (or so she likes to say). My hope is that all parents have this level of assurance and comfort when they choose providers for their children; with the bill reauthorizing the Child Care Development Block Grant now signed by the president, we are one step closer.

See our fact sheet below for more.

Childcare Development Block Grant Fact Sheet