Update: Will Kids be Getting a “Strong Start”?

On Tuesday we shared news with you about an upcoming committee vote on the “Strong Start for America’s Children Act”, which was being considered in the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee. We asked you to join us, and thousands of others on Twitter and Facebook, in asking our Senators to heed the research and invest in young kids.

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Yesterday, the committee approved the Strong Start legislation with a vote of 12-10. There were two significant changes made to the legislation prior to voting.

  • First, the bill originally required teachers – in programs that receive funding – to hold a bachelor’s degree, with credentials that demonstrate competence in early education. The change, adopted yesterday, would provide teachers a three-year “grace period” to meet this requirement. This is considered a significant improvement over the original language, which provided no time period for compliance. However, advocates remain concerned that three years will not be enough time for teachers to meet this new mandate.
  • And second, new language allows both states and localities to be recipients of the bill’s preschool development grants. This language could be problematic as many states, including our own, are trying to build strong systems that reach children no matter where they reside. Money being provided directly to towns with the capacity to write strong applications could cause further fragmentation and inequity.

The Center for Law and Social Policy (commonly known as CLASP) has provided a more in-depth look into yesterday’s developments here.

The bill is now likely ready for a vote on the floor of the Senate. We will continue to track this legislation and provide updates as developments arise.

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