The Heart of a Caregiver

The World Bank report (2006) indicates that 82 percent of the Karamojong are living below poverty compared to a national average of 31 percent. Access to sanitation is only 9 percent compared to the national average of 62 percent and literacy rate is 11 percent compared to 67 percent at the national level.

Agnes Lomkol, 29, towers over the seated children at the mud walled room that serves as the early childhood development (ECD) center, in Nakapelimen village of Moroto district in northeast Uganda. Something other than the simple coolness of the dimly lit room draws even more dust-covered children inside, away from the scorching morning sun. This is Karamoja, a disadvantaged semi-arid sub-region that is nursing wounds of inter-clan wars. Here, education is still a luxury. As the late students squeeze and shuffle around for sitting space on the mat-covered floor, a stern female voice calls them to order. With anxiety for new tidbits of knowledge they settle down hurriedly and focus their attention on the slender solemn lady standing at the far corner of the room.

Agnes’s warm smile can light up any room, and she is gentle with all the children. She does not distinguish between those who arrive punctually at 8 o’clock, and those who run in hours later.

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Why Investing in Kids Is Good for Business

The evidence is clear.

Investing in early childhood education and quality childcare has far-reaching and long-lasting positive effects on the growth and development of our children. We know through the most compelling kinds of research and data that over 90 percent of brain development occurs between a child’s birth and the time they are five-years-old, and that so many life outcomes are impacted and determined during those precious early years.

We also know that investing in early childhood education improves the educational attainment of individuals in the long term, and will lead them to better and brighter economic futures. These realities show us beyond a shadow of a doubt that when children start behind, they so often stay behind, and are greatly limited in their life trajectory and ability to become contributing members of their community.

Despite these facts, we as a society have failed to adequately react to this reality through the policies and priorities we promote in this country. And as President Obama mentioned in his last State of the Union speech, “It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.”

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The Allure of Technology for Young Learners

As children look around their environment today, they are seeing not only the natural world, but also an increasingly technological world. For adults, this new world of technology makes possible instant connections between people, information, and ideas. But for parents of young children, who are often attracted to digital devices, it also raises questions and concerns about their children.

Many child development experts worry that too much time passively consuming entertainment media can limit a child’s opportunities to play and interact with others, as well as contribute to health issues, such as obesity, by reducing the child’s daily movement and exercise, while offering little value in return.

The good news is that there are many active and educational applications of technology that can be beneficial to children.

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Inspiring Head Start Alumni Share 50 Years of Stories

“Two years after Head Start launched nationally, a class was established in my home town of Hinton, West Virginia. In a rural town like Hinton, Head Start was one of the only early educational opportunities around. It meant a lot to the families in my town, and still does. In preparation for today, I wanted to talk to someone who remembers that time a little better than a preschooler. So I had my mom call my Head Start teacher, Rita Pack.”

That’s how United States Secretary of Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell opened her remarks at the National Head Start Association’s Annual Conference last Thursday, with a story that contained a powerful message: Head Start graduates can go anywhere and do anything they set their minds to.

During the conference’s opening session, Cornell Brooks had described how his Head Start diploma still hangs on the wall of his office as President and CEO of the NAACP. Moments later, one of the founders of Head Start, Edward Zigler, proudly said he felt safe putting his life in the hands of a Head Start graduate as he chatted with Dr. John Paul Kim, who enrolled in the program as a refugee from Cambodia, and today is an anesthesiologist. The following morning, Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, shared the visceral memory of a woman knocking on his family’s door back in 1965 and inviting his mother to enroll her children in a new program. Over the course of the week, dozens of alumni joined us, from four-year-olds to business leaders to reporters.

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