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The New York Times (3/27/14) Project to Improve Intellect of Poor Children Led to Better Health, Too, Research Finds

“This tells us that adversity matters and it does affect adult health,” said James Heckman, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who led the data analysis. “But it also shows us that we can do something about it, that poverty is not just a hopeless condition.”

The Washington Post (3/31/14) New York will Begin Universal Pre-Kindergarten

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio will get hundreds of millions of dollars to implement a universal pre-kindergarten program, while high-earning city residents avoided the tax increase de Blasio sought to pay for the new program.

The Washington Post (3/31/14) Both Parties Need To Grow Up in Discussing Early Childhood Education (op-ed by Rahm Emanuel)

Largely missing from this debate are the essential role that parents play in their children’s education and the importance of the quality of a child’s early learning experience. Parents must be engaged or their children will be shortchanged. In addition, the hours in preschool must provide high-quality learning built around best practices so the time does not become just expensive babysitting.

NPR (4/2/14) Finding a More Nuanced View of Poverty's 'Black Hole'

"It's like being stuck in a black hole," says Valdez, 47, who is unemployed and trying to raise a teenage son in Coney Island, New York City. "Poverty is like literally being held back from enjoying life, almost to the point of not being able to breathe." For years, researchers have complained that the way the government measures income and poverty is severely flawed, that it provides an incomplete — and even distorted — view.

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Atlanta Journal Constitution (3/1/14) Early Childhood programs look to engage the community in making smart choices from Day 1

"What we've realized is that if we've started in kindergarten, we've started too late," said Anne Warhavor, CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation. "It's just beyond dispute anymore that we have to do a better job from birth. This is really about melding all the experiences of a (newborn) to 3-year-old into trying to create a human being that is really resilient."

The New York Times(3/3/14) The Breast Cancer Racial Gap

Dr. Hurlbert said factors like the city’s public hospital system and an extensive public transportation system probably play a role, increasing access to breast cancer care regardless of income level. However, more research is needed to home in on the factors that are contributing to the racial divide..

The Wall Street Journal (3/4/14) New Orleans Projects Get a Lift

The project also will include schools, health-care facilities, retail space and a transportation plan. The plan is the latest example of a major city trying to reinvent public housing in a way that doesn't concentrate poverty. Cities now are working to deconcentrate such areas by replacing public-housing projects with mixed-income housing.

US News & World Report(3/4/14) Obama's 2015 Budget: More Early Education Funds, New Race to the Top

Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, said in a statement Obama's push for increased investment in early childhood education proves it is "a cost-effective, common sense solution to many of our nation's biggest challenges, including educational attainment, health and well-being, and economic productivity."

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Building Strong Communities

This op-ed from former Atlanta Mayor, Shirley Franklin, originally appeared in The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
I remember when East Lake Meadows was one of Atlanta's most violent neighborhoods. Today, high-quality, mixed-income housing has replaced decrepit apartments in East Lake. Crime is down, and employment, income, school attendance and student achievement are up. It's a flourishing community where people of all ages and different backgrounds choose to live. The benefits of living in a safe neighborhood with good housing and outstanding schools come from a holistic approach to community revitalization. Why holistic? A community's wellness results from the quality of education, recreational facilities, employment opportunities and health care of its residents.

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Culture of Health Blog (1/27/14) Investing in Children to Improve the Nation's Health

The report focuses on ways to influence the upstream determinants of Americans' generally poor health, including low levels of education and incomes, unsafe environments, and non-nutritious food. Of the panel's three top recommendations, the first is distinctly child-centric: "Invest in the foundations of lifelong physical and mental well-being of our youngest children." Were he alive today, Douglass would surely agree.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy(1/28/14) Pay-for-Success Projects Spread to More States

While most of the efforts so far have focused on helping people who have landed in prison, at least one high-profit project involved education. In Utah last summer, Goldman Sachs and the investor J.B. Pritzker invested $7-million to expand a Salt Lake preschool program for at-risk children that should provide the state with savings by lowering the number of students who turn to public special-education services.

The Tennessean (1/29/14) Support grows for pre-K programs

A common thread is running through a couple of major reports about education in Tennessee that thus far has eluded the decision makers in the state General Assembly and the Haslam administration: the value of prekindergarten programs. SCORE's "2013-14 State of Education of Tennessee" released on Monday, focuses on K-12 education, but founder and chairman, Sen. Bill Frist, has called for universal prekindergarten for Tennessee children.

The New York Times(1/29/14) How Preschools Got Hot

Early education is one of the best tools for breaking the poverty-to-poverty trap. Unfortunately, it only works if it’s high quality, and high quality is expensive. Yet very little of this newfound enthusiasm comes with serious money attached.

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Slate (1/22/14) Family Matters

A lot of research—including new research from the Brookings Institution—has shown us that kids are more likely to climb the income ladder when they are raised by two, married parents. But this is the first study to show that lower-income kids from both single- and married-parent families are more likely to succeed if they hail from a community with lots of two-parent families.

The Huffington Post(1/22/14) This Is The Single Biggest Threat To Health And Happiness

The World Health Organization has called poverty the "world's biggest killer and the greatest cause of ill-health and suffering." It's a statement that, unfortunately, is difficult to argue with. We often think of poverty's greatest threats as the ones affecting the world's most profoundly disadvantaged, such as violence, infectious disease and a lack of basic resources for everything from healthy food to medical care. But those living in poverty are also at an increased risk for chronic diseases, mental health problems, sleep disorders and stress -- ailments we more regularly associate with affluence, but that are no less profound among those living below the poverty line.

The New York Times (1/23/14) It Takes a Generation

If you really want to make an impact, you’ve got to have a developmental strategy for all the learning stages, ages 0 to 25. For the time being, we probably should spend less time thinking about marriage and more time thinking about parenting skills. As Richard Reeves, also of Brookings, points out, if we could teach the weakest parents to behave like average parents — by reading more to their kids, speaking more, using consistent, encouraging discipline — then millions of children might have more secure attachments, more structure and better shots at upwardly mobile careers. Programs like Nurse-Family Partnerships and the Baby College in the Harlem Children’s Zone seem to be able to teach these parenting skills.

The New York Times(1/23/14) Upward Mobility Has Not Declined, Study Says

The odds of moving up — or down — the income ladder in the United States have not changed appreciably in the last 20 years, according to a large new academic study that contradicts politicians in both parties who have claimed that income mobility is falling. The results suggested that other forces — including sharply rising incomes at the top of the ladder, which allows well-off families to invest far more in their children — were holding back talented people, the authors said.

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The New York Times (1/15/14) Children in Poverty

As president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, at a time when more than 16 million American children under 18 are living in poverty, I cannot be silent, and neither can other pediatricians. Poverty in childhood leads to poorer development and lifelong chronic health conditions in adulthood. As a country, we must commit to giving these children — our future workers, teachers and leaders — a healthy start in life.

PBS NewsHour(1/15/14) Federal government spending bill investing billions in educations

Hitting pause on sequestration restrictions, Head Start became one of the biggest federal government investments after appropriations were announced for the bipartisan $1.1 trillion spending bill. Providing comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition and parental involvement services to low-income children and their families, the program will receive just over $1 billion, a 13 percent increase over current funding and $612 million over its initial 2013 appropriation.

The New York Times (1/16/14) The Inequality Problem

If we’re going to mobilize a policy revolution, we should focus on the real concrete issues: bad schools, no jobs for young men, broken families, neighborhoods without mediating institutions. We should not be focusing on a secondary issue and a statistical byproduct.

Bloomberg Businessweek(1/16/14) The Heckman Equation: Early Childhood Education Benefits All

At this month’s conference of the American Economic Association, Heckman presented a new reason for government to provide this benefit. The data show that the earlier a child gets help, the better the results through each stage of education. Yet younger parents are on the whole more credit-constrained than older ones. So at the time they ought to be putting their kids into early education programs, they don’t have the money or credit to pay for it. Economists call this an imperfect credit market.

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The New York Times (1/8/14) Progess in the War on Poverty

Another hugely successful array of programs involved parent coaching to get pregnant women to drink and smoke less and to encourage at-risk moms to talk to their children more. Programs like Nurse-Family Partnership, Healthy Families America, Child First, Save the Children and Thirty Million Words Project all have had great success in helping parents do a better job with their kids.

Slate(1/9/14) Low Income Women Don't Need More Marriage. They Need More Child Care.

President Obama has already proposed a program to provide preschool education to 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families, citing the tremendous gains for children enrolled in these programs. It's a good start, but what we really need is to make it a goal that every woman who wants to work has an opportunity to do so. That means making affordable child care available not just for 4-year-olds, but for all children, even infants, who have mothers who want to go to work.

The Washington Post (1/10/14) Thirty states are raising pre-kindergarten funding

Nationally, states raised pre-kindergarten funding by 6.9 percent for the 2013 to 2014 fiscal year. That amounts to about $364 million more, bringing the national total for pre-K funding to $5.6 billion, the state-formed Education Commission of the States reported on Friday. And while some states are still making up for ground lost during the recession, overall funding is actually $400 million more than it was before it even hit.

MetroTrends Blog(1/10/14) Promise Zones: Revitalizing communities and reducing poverty

Promise Zones draw heavily from a policy approach that I helped to design called Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2). They are partnerships between the federal government and local communities that are bottom-up rather than top-down, stress accountability, and unleash the creativity of federal officials.

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Think Progress (1/3/14) Universal High-Quality Early Childhood Education Could Close The Achievement Gap At Age 5

Providing high-quality early childhood education to all American children from birth to age three has the potential to close the achievement gap between high- and low-income kids at ages three and five, according to new research by Greg J. Duncan and Aaron J. Sojourner. It would also likely cut the achievement gap in half for children at age eight. But just half of the country’s three-year-olds and 69 percent of four-year-olds are enrolled in preschool programs. Meanwhile, the achievement gap between high-income and low-income children is wide. A language proficiency gap between worse off children and wealthy ones shows up as early as 18 months, at which point disadvantaged toddlers are several months behind their peers.

The New York Times (1/4/14) Can Upward Mobility Cost You Your Health?

Those who do climb the ladder, against the odds, often pay a little-known price: Success at school and in the workplace can exact a toll on the body that may have long-term repercussions for health. Among American children there are wide socioeconomic gaps on many dimensions of well-being: school achievement, mental health, drug use, teenage pregnancy and juvenile incarceration, to name just a few. Despite the risks that lower-income children face, we also know that a significant minority beat the odds. They perform admirably in school, avoid drugs and go on to college.

Bloomberg Businessweek (1/6/14) Get Ready to Talk About Early Childhood Education

The earlier life stages, said Heckman, are important for improving cognitive skills—basic processing power, things we measure with IQ tests. Later in childhood is when it becomes important to develop non-cognitive skills, such as self-discipline. And early childhood is when a child’s parents are most constrained, financially. Parents with young children aren’t yet at their peak earning potential, and they’re burdened with child-care costs. Put these two observations together, said Heckman, and you get “a potentially serious market imperfection.” Parents are least able to spend on education to improve cognitive skills when their children most need it.

The Atlantic (1/7/14) The Proven Way to Fight Income Inequality: Education

But as these politicians are invoking the issue for political gain, they're avoiding one prescription that has proven to be a time-tested path to economic mobility—increasing access to quality education. When progressives discuss education, it frequently leads to the demand part of the equation. De Blasio proposed offering universal pre-K and after-school to city residents, while Obama has made it easier for students to obtain grants and loans to tackle the skyrocketing cost of a college education.

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The Atlantic Cities (12/17/13) We Don't Know Nearly As Much About the Link Between Public Health and Urban Planning As We Think We Do

When Americans think of health, we instinctively see in our mind’s eye the medical profession and the hospitals and clinics in which they treat illness. We usually do not think of architects and other design professionals. But what if we invited designers to help us reinvent aspects of preventive medicine? What if we adopted design strategies that lead to less sedentary lifestyles?

New England Journal of Medicine (12/19/13) Housing as Health Care — New York's Boundary-Crossing Experiment

The role of social determinants of health, and the business case for addressing them, is immediately clear when it comes to homelessness and housing. The 1.5 million Americans who experience homelessness in any given year face numerous health risks and are disproportionately represented among the highest users of costly hospital-based acute care.

Daily Planet (12/19/13) Collaboration to create healthier communities in Minnesota

Nineteen projects from around the state shared their experiences with cross-sector collaboration, involving nonprofit organizations, government, private businesses, and academia. These projects showed how they have educated the public, promoted exercise and nutrition, connected people with health care, and improved access to healthy food.

MetroTends Blog (1/3/14) Women's Health: A key link to understanding the US health disadvantage?

As the Urban Institute digs into the social determinants of health in an effort to better understand the US health disadvantage, a key part of this work will be exploring the many drivers of women’s health. Our preliminary analyses suggest that increases in mortality are especially pronounced among white women of reproductive age, not a group we generally think of as being disadvantaged.

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The New York Times (12/11/13) Helping Brazil's Poor Heal at Home
We often hear about the harmful effects of poverty on health, particularly the health of children. But we hear less about the decisive role health plays in triggering, or exacerbating, poverty. It made no sense to see medical care as something that takes place only within the confines of a hospital. When a member of a struggling family falls ill, it means a loss of income, potentially major costs, and much stress and fear. That’s more than a family living on the margins can withstand — even if they are lucky enough to have insurance.

Governing (12/11/13) State Legislators Want More Federal Support for Early Childhood Education
More than 500 state lawmakers from 49 states have signed a letter urging Congressional budget writers to increase federal spending on early childhood education. The letter, delivered to Capitol Hill Thursday, urges Congress to prioritize early childhood education to “provide greater access to children in need, and produce better education, health and economic outcomes.”

Health Affairs Blog (12/12/13) HELP Committee Explores Life Expectancy And Health Disparities Through Health Affairs Lens
“Socio-economic policies that are health promoting aren’t counted as health promoting. We need to change our calculations on how we account for costs and benefits,” Berkman concluded. Dr. Woolf, published in the October 2011 issue of Health Affairs, sounded a similar theme. “Economic policy is not just economic policy; it’s health policy,” he observed. “Relieving economic hardship for Americans is a smart way for Congress to control medical spending,” said Woolf, who chaired the Institute of Medicine panel that produced the seminal report “US Health In International Perspective: Health Shorter Lives, Poorer Health.”.

Forbes (12/12/13) In South Los Angeles, A Bold Plan To Address Health Disparities
Across the country, health providers and public health leaders are developing cutting-edge ways to address the underlying conditions that play a huge role in determining the health of a community and its residents. This is part three of Profiles in Innovation, a series of interviews with health leaders who are creating interventions that improve the health of whole populations, as well as individual patients.

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