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Alison Channon, Program Assistant

My Take

#PreKForAll: So All Children Have the Chance to Thrive

Posted by Alison Channon, Program Assistant | Posted on: June 05, 2013 at 02:38 pm

I am a proud aunt to a very precocious kindergartener. I remember when she was three and she shocked the whole family with her grasp of complex verb tenses. And over Memorial Day, she astonished me with her adept reading of Amelia Bedelia.

Her language and reading skills are extremely impressive and so are her pre-math, writing, and interpersonal skills. I’d like to think it’s solely because she shares some of my genetic material, but I know her wonderful prekindergarten experiences deserve credit too.

My niece's artwork

Starting as an infant, my niece was exposed to rich early childhood experiences, with her parents and extended family, at her family child care home, and then at preschool. She listened to stories, sang songs, played games, colored pictures, and the list goes on.

Every child should have the opportunity to thrive in a stimulating preschool classroom filled with playmates, art supplies, books, blocks, and caring teachers. But there are not enough publicly financed slots for all the children who need them, and for most families, the cost of private preschool is prohibitive. Only 43 percent of 3 and 4 year olds with family incomes below $20,000 per year are enrolled in preschool, compared to 65 percent of 3 and 4 year olds with family incomes at or above $75,000 per year.

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Don’t Delay, Get Your Tax Refund Now!

Posted by Alison Channon, Program Assistant | Posted on: April 11, 2013 at 10:26 am

This post is the eighth in a series of weekly posts containing tax information and filing tips. Check back next week for our next post, or click here to read past posts. 

April 15th is fast approaching, which means the time to file your taxes is running out. I know what you’re thinking – “I’d rather watch paint dry.” I felt the same way. Filing my taxes ranks high on my list of most boring life activities, but unlike waiting in endless airport lines or sitting in traffic, it comes with a great reward.

After filing my taxes, I felt accomplished – I crossed off a big item on my to-do list, I was now compliant with the law, and I had fulfilled my civic duty. But best of all, I knew I had a nice refund coming my way. Little did I know how quickly it would arrive. I filed my federal tax return online on March 26 and by April 3 the U.S. Treasury Department had deposited my refund into my bank account.

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Tags: Taxes, Tax & Budget |

27 Governors Highlight Early Care and Education in State of the State Addresses

Posted by Alison Channon, Program Assistant | Posted on: March 15, 2013 at 01:20 pm

Everyone’s ears perked up when President Obama announced his new early childhood education plan at the State of the Union last month. And many noticed when Jon Stewart started talked prekindergarten and the President’s plan on the Daily Show. But the focus on early care and education isn't just happening at the national level: 27 governors across the country — from left, right, and center — signaled that early childhood was a priority for them in their State of the State addresses.

Like the President, these governors (and the Mayor of Washington, D.C.) recognize that investing in children in their earliest years is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Early care and education helps nurture young children and prepares them for future educational and career success, provides crucial support for parents, and strengthens our nation's economy.

A number of governors called for significant new investments in early care and education to expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said he wanted to "ensure that every child in Massachusetts has access to high-quality early education."

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Behind the Scenes: Secretaries Duncan and Sebelius Champion Early Care and Learning

Posted by Alison Channon, Program Assistant | Posted on: March 01, 2013 at 04:50 pm

This morning I visited a Head Start classroom with NWLC’s Director of Child Care and Early Learning, Helen Blank, and two recognizable guests.

Helen was part of a select group of early childhood advocates invited to join Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as they visited the Judy Center at Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland. Judy Centers are located in or affiliated with elementary school across Maryland and provide a comprehensive set of services for at-risk children birth through age five and their families.

Secretaries Duncan and Sebelius treated the children to a great rendition of “Green Eggs and Ham” and I got to play press photographer. The children seemed to thoroughly enjoy their new storytellers though they were a bit skeptical when Secretary Sebelius tried to use the story to encourage them to try new foods.

Secretaries Duncan and Sebelius

“Have you ever tried a food you thought you wouldn’t like and then you liked it?” she asked.

“No,” a little boy responded matter-of-factly.

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Good News for Maryland Women: Minimum Wage Increase to Be Introduced

Remember when a hot dog and a soda cost 39 cents? Yeah, neither do we.

We all know that restaurant prices rise nearly every year with inflation. The cost of everything from groceries to gas to rent rises, too. But many workers have not seen their wages rise in years, leaving them straining to make ends meet on paychecks that keep getting smaller relative to the cost of living.

For our neighbors in Maryland, the minimum wage is stuck at $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum, and the minimum cash wage for tipped workers is woefully low at $3.63 per hour (though higher than the federal floor of $2.13 per hour). If the minimum wage had risen with inflation over the past several decades, it would be close to $10.60 per hour today. But neither the minimum wage nor the tipped minimum wage is linked to inflation in Maryland, so the purchasing power of these extremely low wages erodes further each year.

Today, full-time minimum wage earnings in Maryland amount to just $14,500 annually – more than $3,600 below the federal poverty line for a mom with two children. Women represent over 60 percent of the workers struggling to get by on the minimum wage in Maryland, and people of color are disproportionately represented among the minimum wage workforce as well.

But there is good news on the horizon. Maryland lawmakers are about to introduce a bill to gradually raise the Maryland minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.00 per hour, set the tipped minimum wage at 70 percent of the minimum wage, and index both wages to keep pace with inflation.

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