Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The CE Experience

As part of Afterschool Awareness Month, we reached out to one of our Member Organizations for a guest blog post from one of their youth. Critical Exposure "trains youth to use photography and advocacy to make real change in their schools and communities". We are thrilled to have Desmond Cole, Jr. share his story this week.

I got involved with Critical Exposure (CE) in the summer of 2016 through the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program. I was really interested in Critical Exposure’s mission of creating strong youth leaders that want to create change within their communities. Youth Internship is where CE teaches you the stages of a campaign, photography, and how to identify problems within your community. Fellowship is what you move up to once Youth Internship is over and it’s here where you start your own campaign on something we, as a group feel really passionate about.

Currently in Fellowship, we are advocating for Financial Literacy and Life Skills and wanting to have it integrated into District of Columbia Public Schools. We want to work on this because we noticed that a lot of young people coming out of High School and College don’t really know how to deal with money. We also wanted Life Skills to be integrated because in school, we feel like we aren’t being taught some of the things that we will need once we get out of school like filing taxes, getting a house, or learning how to write checks.

Being in CE, I’ve met some amazing people and done some amazing things with this program. I
learned how to take better photos and how to start a campaign and in the process became apart of a community where I can show up and be my full self in front of a bunch of likeminded individuals.

Thank you to Desmond and the rest of the Critical Exposure family. What are you and your organization doing to celebrate Afterschool Awareness Month? It's not too late to figure out a way to participate in this year's Lights on Afterschool event on October 26! Let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Happy International Day of the Girl

Did you know it's International Day of the Girl?

"In 2011, as the result of youth advocacy around the world, the United Nations declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. Its mission is “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” It’s a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss, and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere."

Check out the video below.


And find out more information here.

What does Freedom for Girls mean for you?

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Happy Afterschool Awareness Month

As you may know, October is Afterschool Awareness Month. And we thought we'd highlight Lights on Afterschool, an Afterschool Alliance project that has been that has been celebrated annually since 2000, to highlight the importance of and need for afterschool programs.
In America today, 11.3 million children are alone and unsupervised after school. Afterschool programs keep kids safe, help working families and inspire learning. They provide opportunities to help young people develop into successful adults. [LOA History]
Throughout the month you can follow the conversation and see what's happening around the country, by following the #LightsOnAfterschool hashtag on Twitter.

And if you and your organization are interested in and plan on joining the celebration, make sure to let Afterschool Alliance know by registering your event as an official Lights on Afterschool event!

You can:

Whatever you do, let us know in a comment or by tagging us on Twitter!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Child Care Testimony from today's Hearing from Maggie Riden

Today, the Committees on Education & Health held a hearing on B22-203, the Infant and Toddler Developmental Health Services Act & B22-355, the Bolstering Early Growth Investment Amendment Act. Maggie Riden, Executive Director of DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, provided testimony.


Good Morning Chairman Grosso, Chairman Gray, and Chairman Evans, fellow Councilmembers and committee staff. My name is Maggie Riden, and I am the Executive Director of the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA), a coalition of over 130 youth-serving organizations operating here in the District of Columbia. Thank you for the opportunity to provide our feedback and recommendations on two bills seeking to improve early childhood care and development through increased coordination and thoughtful resource allocation.

I’d like to begin my remarks with appreciation for the Council’s attention to the holistic needs of the District’s youngest residents, their families and caregivers, as well as the systems and services that center around a critical point in a young person’s brain development. While the bulk of DCAYA’s work focuses on the needs of youth later in their development, we recognize that gaps in opportunity, achievement and enrichment often begin with stretched resources and insufficient support at birth. We appreciate that both bills under consideration today incorporate strategies to coordinate the health and education that are intrinsically linked to the needs of infants, toddlers and their families. With broad support for the health-specific approaches to early childhood development under the Infant and Toddler Developmental Health Services Act, our vantage point on the spectrum of youth needs over time orients the bulk of our feedback today on the educational aspects of both bills.

We also appreciate the formidable complexity and necessary urgency underpinning today’s conversation about improving access to quality early childhood education opportunities, especially for the many families in the District with high needs for support and few resources to turn to within their communities. Specifically for youth ages 16-24 who are not in school and not working, the need for child care is acute and resources especially limited. According to our organization’s 2013 Connecting Youth to Opportunity report, 32% of the 481 disconnected youth surveyed were pregnant or parenting and 68% reported living in Wards 7 and 8. Furthermore, when we asked these young people about their barriers to re-engaging in education, 12% identified a lack of child care and 23% said that a need to work full-time or the cost of an educational program would be a barrier to completion.

With this baseline understanding of the child care needs of re-engaging youth, our work with government agencies, fellow advocates and providers of alternative education over the years has revealed the need for child care options that are geographically convenient to alternative schools and programs, operated within extended hours to accommodate the flexible hours of alternative learners, and affordable to young DC families. Rising to meet the needs of their students, a number of alternative schools have created on-site child care centers. We appreciate the licensing flexibility extended by OSSE that made this expanded child care capacity for some adult and alternative students possible.

The bills before us today offer promising progress in addressing the child care needs of the District’s families, toddlers and infants. Along with our colleagues in the Birth-To-Three Policy Alliance, we support the addition of language to expand the cost of care model to include family child care and Quality Improvement Network sites to ensure subsidy reimbursements are right-sized and incentivize quality improvement over time. We know that the current rates are insufficient toward funding high-quality programs, keeping child care businesses open, giving low-income families buying power, and compensating teachers for their work and demonstrated expertise. In addition to compelling higher reimbursement rates through the legislation before us today, we also call on the Council to commit $10 million in FY19 to fund this critical component to quality and accessible care for the District’s most vulnerable families. As these funds are identified and dispersed, we urge the Council, agency stakeholders and fellow advocates to consider investments in programs that operate during extended hours to increase the capacity of child care that aligns with the flexible schedules required by alternative and adult students.

Moreover, we do echo the concerns of our colleagues in the potential duplication or lack of coordination between these bills and urge the Council to consider a consolidation of the legislation and thoughtful prioritization of their provisions. Considering the complexity of the early childhood development landscape and the scope of work that lies ahead, clear, concise, and aligned legislative directives will set the strongest foundation for future improvements. It is also unclear at this point if the creation of an Office of Early Childhood Development could be successful in streamlining licensing issues or if it would instead create an additional agency-level agenda to square with the broader questions of capacity and quality improvement. Instead, we recommend that OSSE, DCRA, other appropriate agencies, and providers engage collaboratively to define goals, roles and responsibilities in child development licensing.

As a final word, we welcome the work ahead to align the complexity of the District’s approach to child care policy and funding to the immediate needs of child development and quality care across the city. We look forward to working with advocacy groups, the Council and Committee staff, and DC’s child care agency stakeholders to ensure a holistic, effective and timely approach to addressing the District’s child care challenges. And as these policies are considered, please keep in mind the success of the District’s re-engaging youth and young adult parents who rely on quality care while they pursue their passions and meet critical benchmarks of lifelong success. Thank you for the opportunity to testify, and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

DCAYA Federal Budget Impacts on DC

This document is intended to provide an evolving picture of how the 2018 Federal Budget could impact DC children, youth, families and the organizations that serve them.

As you review the following chart, keep in mind that due to the federal funding cycle, any decisions made in the FY2018 Federal Budget will not - generally - impact DC funding until FY2019.

We will continue to update this document as information is made available and decisions are made. For the most up to date version, make sure to bookmark this link