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Building Strong Children Today for a Strong Nation Tomorrow

The Huffington Post – Marian Wright Edelman

“Pediatricians aren’t usually day-to-day policy makers but policy decisions affect the work they do every day as frontline caregivers for our nation’s children. That’s why I was extremely pleased the official journal of the Academic Pediatric Association (APA) recently devoted an entire supplement to a pressing policy crisis affecting pediatricians, public health workers, teachers and all of us and the nation’s future: child poverty in America. As Academic Pediatrics put it: “Childhood poverty creates long-lasting, often permanent, physiologic changes through constant exposure to threats such as malnutrition, acute and chronic disease, toxic stress, social deprivation, and lack of opportunity.” The editors add: “Children remain the poorest members of our society even in good times, with rates that are unacceptably high for a developed nation. This situation is not an inevitable fact of life. The United States is a nation that knows how to use policies and programs to raise its citizens out of poverty.” I agree! The Children’s Defense Fund 2015 report, Ending Child Poverty Now, shows policy solutions to ending child poverty in our nation already exist and can be implemented without delay if politics and greed can be overcome by a commitment to help children. By expanding investments in nine existing policies and programs that work we could shrink overall child poverty 60 percent, Black child poverty 72 percent, and improve the economic circumstances for 97 percent of poor children.”(more)

Bringing Brain Science to Early Childhood

The Atlantic – Emily Deruy

“A group of scholars at Harvard University is spearheading a campaign to make sure the early-childhood programs policymakers put in place to disrupt intergenerational poverty are backed by the latest science. The idea sounds entirely reasonable, but it’s all too rare in practice, says Jack P. Shonkoff, the director of the university’s Center on the Developing Child and the chair of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. That’s because program grants and policies are generally structured in ways that incentivize “positive” results…On Wednesday, the center will publish a report that calls for an online and in-person network that uses recent advances in scientists’ understanding of the way young brains grow to create and test early-childhood interventions…In short, the idea is to invest in different people and programs who understand the science behind child development and give them the ability to test different interventions.”(more)

After-school clubs ‘can improve poorer children’s education’

The Guardian – Staff Writer

“After-school clubs can improve the academic performance and social skills of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, research shows. The study of 6,400 children in England found that those who took part in organised sports and physical activities at the ages of five, seven and 11 were almost one and a half times more likely to reach a higher than expected level in their Key Stage 2 (KS2) maths test at the age of 11. Disadvantaged children who attended after-school clubs also fared better than their peers who did not take part.”(more)

Inside the schools with edible playgrounds

The Guardian – Zofia Niemtus

“How can we get children to eat more vegetables? There’s no shortage of advice on the matter, varying from “serve them with unpopular foods” to “act more like French people” or “just give up”. But schools are discovering that getting students to grow their own greens can make a big difference. This hands-on method is so powerful, in fact, that it can even detoxify the dinner table nemesis of generations: the brussel sprout…Edible playgrounds are springing up across the country and address several key areas of concern around children’s health. They teach pupils about nutrition, encourage physical activity, and can help with food poverty.”(more)

Education is the topic for the new World Development Report

The World Bank – KAUSHIK BASU

“Education is central to improving human welfare and to achieving the goals of eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. Schooling was recognized as vital to achieving the MDGs, and it remains front and center in the SDGs. Yet there has never been a World Development Report (WDR) on education. As a result, I have just announced that the WDR 2018—with a working title of Realizing the Promise of Education for Development—will fill this gap by taking stock of what the development community has learned, and how it can strengthen and expand education systems to drive significantly more development and growth.”(more)

An Easier Way to Enroll in School Lunches

The Atlantic – Tajha Chappellet-Lanier

“The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has announced a new pilot program for the upcoming school year that hopes to give more children access to the National School Lunch Program. Under the program, states will use Medicaid data to find qualifying students and directly enroll them for both free and reduced-price meal programs. Under the current system, parents have to go through a cumbersome application process to access the programs, and the paperwork diminishes accessibility. “Many children who are eligible for free and reduced-lunch meals aren’t enrolled in the program—this is going to help ensure that they receive the benefits, too,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told The Washington Post.”(more)