The Children’s Trust Ad Hoc Early Childhood Committee held a series of presentations and discussions on November 9 where key stakeholders and industry experts shared the latest data, trends and needs related to early childhood policy. The intent of the meeting was to ensure alignment of strategies and resources so all are working collectively and utilizing accurate data to help ensure families have access to high-quality child care options. Presenting organizations included the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Children’s Council, the University of Florida Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies and the Miami-Dade IDEAS Consortium for Children.
In their opening remarks, The Children’s Trust President & CEO James R. Haj and Committee Chair Daniel Bagner, Ph.D. spoke to the importance of early learning to improve the lives of children and families. “The science is clear on the matter – supporting quality early childhood development transforms the lives of children and their families, which ultimately benefits our entire community,” said Haj. “We know it will take all of our efforts, resources and vision to ensure our youngest learners are thriving.”
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also joined the meeting, voicing her support for the initiatives being discussed and announced the creation of a Miami-Dade County Children’s Commission, which will focus on the 0-5 age agenda. The Children’s Trust is expected to be a key part of this initiative.
According to an analysis presented by Brittany Birken, Ph.D. with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, only 44% of US households with children under the age of 13 can afford child care at full cost, without sacrificing other necessary basic needs like food, housing or transportation. With the workforce returning in full force, affordable, safe and reliable child care is a top priority for many families.
Looking ahead to the future, the Florida Chamber of Commerce offered a strong outlook, planning to introduce America’s first comprehensive, chamber-led strategy. “[The goal is] to cut childhood poverty in half, ensure all third graders are reading at grade level, and champion diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace,” said Florida Chamber President & CEO Mark Wilson. “The single best investment we can make is in early learning and quality outcomes.”
The Children’s Trust Chief of Research, Evaluation and Strategic Planning K. Lori Hanson, Ph.D. and Associate Director of Programs Rachel Spector outlined The Trust’s Early Childhood Investments, called Thrive by 5, which includes a total of $48 million distributed across child care quality, child care access and early intervention programs and initiatives. As part of Thrive by 5, a $3.6 million investment from The Children’s Trust leverages $28.1 million in federal funding for 3,214 additional high-quality child care slots for low-income children birth to five. Click here to learn more about The Children’s Trust Thrive by 5 initiative.
Other notable attendees of the collaborative meeting included The Children’s Trust Board Chair Kenneth Hoffman, Board Members Pamela Hollingsworth, Dr. Malou Harrison, Gilda Ferradaz, Mary Donworth, Nelson Hincapie, Annie Neasman, Dr. Magaly Abrahante and Karen Weller. Also in attendance were Evelio Torres, President and CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties; Madeleine Thakur, President of The Children’s Movement of Florida; and representatives from the Office of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins, Miami-Dade County, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.