At the Voices for Children conference held Tuesday, July 28th, Sandy Oxley CEO presented a year-in-review update and those attending heard about state and federal policy initiatives. John McCarthy, Director of the Ohio Dept. of Medicaid presented ODM updates and participants heard from the Ohio Afterschool Network. A presentation by Dr. Will Mosier, the Ohio Association of Infant Mental Health made some points about the important role of infant and toddler mental health which supports the social, emotional well-being of infants and toddlers by supporting those who serve and care for very young children. At the heart of the program is reducing infant mortality but also recognizing the vital attachment relationship in supporting the life of a child and all children.
A hand-out by ExpandEDschools by TASC showed there is a 6,000 hour learning gap by the time kids reach 6th grade. Middle class kids have spent that many more hours learning than kids born into poverty. The chart shows that middle income parents have spent 220 more hours reading to a child; 1,395 hours in pre-school education; 3,060 hours in after-school and extra-curricular activities; 1,080 hours on summer learning (camp); and 245 hours in field trips. This is a significant gap which has long term repercussions.
About 30% – that’s 608,657 of Ohio’s K-to-12 children spend an average of 8 hours per week unsupervised after school. With working parents struggling to make ends meet, children are more likely to be on their own. Participants learned that after-school programs contribute to higher academic student achievement, social and emotional enrichment, crime prevention, drug and pregnancy prevention, and childhood obesity prevention-according to the Afterschool Alliance and America After 3PM report- (OCCRRA and OAN).
The new KIDS COUNT Data Book (www.cdfohio.org) names 589,871 children living in poverty (22.7%) out of a total Ohio child population of 2,649,830. Statistics show 22.9% of Ohio’s population is under the age of 18. Nearly 30% of Ohio’s children receive SNAP/Food Stamps, and 48.5% are classified as economically disadvantaged students. The teen birth rate is 12.8% (birth rate per 1000 females age 15-17). About 8.5 children are in foster care/1000 children; 7.6 experienced maltreatment and 1.8 felony adjudications. Clearly, there is work to be done in an atmosphere when Federal and State funding is under the microscope. Voices for Children will continue to monitor and advocate for children. This non-partisan advocacy organization has twelve such workshops ‘on the road’ through-out Ohio in the month of August.
[photo credit: Dreamstime #41656187]