The Long-Run: How Early Learning Can Help Children and the Community

Parents of young kids often wonder about their children’s futures and what they can do to set them on the right track at a young age. That’s where early learning opportunities come into play.

“It is important that families have access to high-quality early learning experiences so their children have a great start and are prepared with the necessary tools for school,” said Crystal Givens, director of programs for Early Learning Indiana’s Child Care Answers program. “Those tools will help children to grow into responsible adults who will provide a positive contribution to society.”

The phrase “early learning” generally refers to the education of children from birth to age five and is used to reinforce the importance of experiences that help children develop academically and socially.

“Research shows that children who have high-quality early learning experiences are more likely to complete high school [and] go on to college, less likely to commit crimes and more likely to be productive citizens,” said Givens. “If children do not have access to quality programs they are less likely to possess the necessary social skills to cope with everyday situations; for instance, getting along well with others. A young child without practice in getting along well with others gets in trouble starting in kindergarten [and] becomes an adult who cannot get along well with others.”

La’ Toya Pitts, deputy director of Christamore House, said, “Early learning provides a foundation for children to be successful throughout their educational careers. Early learning plays a vital role in building confidence in young people so that they are equipped to deal with the various learning situations that they may encounter throughout the learning cycle.”

Pitts added, “Early learning builds confidence, confidence leads to success, success leads to change – and our communities are begging for change. We need change to happen so that our community can succeed.”

Read more on Indy With Kids.

January 20, 2012 Legislative Update

The 2012 legislative session is off and running. Below is a list of bills that MCCOY is following and that have either been heard in committee or are scheduled to be heard. Given the controversy surrounding the Right to Work bill, many bills are still on hold because the House cannot convene and many committee meetings have been rescheduled. To read the bill digests or the bills themselves, please visit http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo?year=2012&session=1&request=all and enter the bill number.

HB1019 Adoption history information. This bill has moved on to the Senate. It passed the third reading 94 Yes 0 No. The Senate sponsor is Senator Broden.

HB1150 Family friendly school designation. This was amended and passed in committee 11 Yes 0 No on 1/17/12

HB1189 Multiple ADM counts. This was amended and passed in committee 12 Yes 0 No on 1/17/12

HB1326 Various education matters. Committee hearing Friday January 20, 2012 8:30am COMPLETE TESTIMONY AND VOTE

HB1324 School accountability and turnaround academies. Committee hearing Friday January 20, 2012 8:30am

SB4 human trafficking. This bill has had a lot of process and support from both sides. This bill went quickly through the senate and passed 48 to 0. Rep. Steuerwald is the House sponsor, with Reps. Foley, L. Lawson, and Welch as the Cosponsors. Several Representatives from both parties were added as coauthors. It was referred to the Committee on Courts and Criminal Code and has aHouse Committee hearing Friday January 20, 2012 at 10:30am. It is moving so quickly, presumably, so it will be passed before the Superbowl. It is effective upon passage.

SB179 Virtual instruction course requirement. Senator Schneider added as coauthor on 1/19/12Heard in committee on 1/18/12

SB236 Various education matters. Heard in committee on 1/18/12

SB248 Referendum on use of balanced school calendar. Committee hearing Monday January 23, 2012 10am

SB265 School report card. Senator Yoder added as coauthor on 1/17/12Heard in committee on 1/18/12

SB267 Education concerning child abuse. Senator Kruse added as second author 1/17/12Heard in committee on 1/18/12

SB268 Advisory committee on early education. Senator Kruse added as second author 1/17/12Heard in committee on 1/18/12

Please stay tuned for more weekly updates as the session continues. If you have any questions, please e-mail Mindi Goodpaster.

2011 General Assembly Recap

The 2011 legislative session is now over and the bills have been enacted. It was an incredibly interesting session to watch, especially for me as this is my first year getting involved in advocacy in Indiana. Some of the measures passed will do great things for youth and some will need to be watched to see what their full impact will be. Here is a brief summary of some of the bills that passed that MCCOY was following.

Education Reform
SEA 1 (P.L. 90-2011) Teacher evaluations and licensing – links the effectiveness of teachers, in addition to other factors, to student performance. Also has provisions defining “attend,” policies outlining excused vs. unexcused absences, parent notification and reporting of habitually absent students to Juvenile Court or the Department of Child Services.

SEA85 (P.L. 142-2011) Education issues study committee – establishes an interim study committee to look at the causes of low graduation rates, best practices to increase graduation rates and the impact of school counselors, teachers, administrators and parents on grad. rates.

SB497 Higher education scholarship – inserted into the budget bill – provides a $4,000 Mitch Daniels Early Graduation Scholarship for high school students graduating earlier than senior year for an approved post-secondary education institution within Indiana.

HEA1002 (P.L. 91-2011) Charter schools – increases the number and types of entities that can sponsor charter schools, adds accountability measures and delineates that only 90% of teachers must possess a license.

HEA1003 (P.L. 92-2011) School scholarships – provides a $1,000 tax deduction for parents who home school their children or send them to a private school and provides scholarships to help cover private school tuition to students in families meeting certain financial requirements.

Full-day kindergarten funding – provides schools access to additional full-day kindergarten grants.

Prevention
SEA4 (P.L. 93-2011) Suicide prevention training for school personnel – provides that teachers should be trained in evidence-based suicide prevention and recognition of signs that a student may be considering suicide. After June 30, 2013, any person applying for a teaching license must be trained in suicide prevention.

HEA1083 (P.L. 180-2011) Various criminal law matters – provides that schools may offer classes, instruction or programs regarding the risks and consequences of “sexting.” Also mandates that schools must include provisions against cyber-bullying in their discipline policies.

HEA1107 (P.L. 183-2011) Preventative programs for at-risk children – provides that a juvenile court may create a voluntary preventative program for at-risk children.

Over the next month, MCCOY will be watching the calendar of the Interim Study Committees and will post periodic updates as they progress. Please stay tuned. As always, if you have any questions or would like more information, please contact me. Thank you for your dedication to advocacy!