Thursday, December 27, 2012

Early Childhood Education Boosts Economy

(image from web article: Early Childhood Education Boosts Economy)

In an article for Suite101, a collaborative publishing community, Stephen Raburn delves into the research supporting the pay-off for investing in early childhood development. Although the article dates back to February of 2010, its content is still relevant today. Early childcare and education has been a hot topic, especially with the past election, and in terms of the issue of funding such programs; therefore, understanding the pay-off for this investment is crucial to move forward for progress in early childhood development.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

President Obama Proclaims November 20th National Child's Day!

Presidential Proclamation--National Child's Day, 2012
Following in suite to Canada's National Child's Day, President Barack Obama observes today, National Child's Day, as a day to "re-educate ourselves to creating the bright future we want for our nation's children." HMESF agrees that America's success depends on our ability to give our children the best education possible. So join us, our president, and the country to celebrate how our children have enriched our lives and to commit to help then achieve excellence in all they do!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

EDU-CAP: Nov 6-13 What's New in Early Education Funding

Early education may have been put on the back-burner in during this presidential race, but with President Obama’s reelection, we’ve begun to shift gears from who is proposing the best ideas for early education to how can we put these ideas into action. President Obama’s platform stressed the importance of education, from early childcare to higher education, but with the current economic climate it is essential that we come up with nuanced ways to fund early education programs, at a federal, state, and city-level. 

Obama re-elected: What four more years means for education

The Hechinger Report, a non-profit news organization focused on in-depth education journalism, commented on how education might change in the next 4 years. Promising to expand access to quality education in his victory speech last week, Obama will ensure the federal government will have a role in education, as opposed to Mitt Romney's campaign which argued education policies be a state and local school district issue. While Obama's first-term focused on teachers and principals' accountability based on students' academic performance. Jeffrey Henig, political scientist at Columbia University's Teachers College, predicts Obama's second term will seek to "improve how academic performance is measured." The Obama administration is expected to use Race to the Top, Obama's competitive grant program incentivizing 46 states to initiate education reform, as leverage for change to make a bigger impact than No Child Left Behind. There is much optimism, yet the reality of a new bipartisan approach to education, "it'll be a lot harder to make non-incremental changes in education policy."

State banking on power of Pre-K
 The Times Union reports that early learning will be pushed in the 2013 state budget. Its no surprise that it has taken this long for policy makers to see how essential early education is to the learning process of a child. Noting the return on investing in early education, Jennifer O'Connor of early learning advocacy group Winning Beginning NY said, "The whole idea is to invest in the first 5 years. Its a smart investment; its money back for communities." The State Department of Education also supports this saying, "Every dollar invested in pre-kindergarten programs saves tax payers' $7 by reducing the need for remedial and special education, as well as welfare and criminal justice services." The State department will focus the 2013 budget on recruiting more children, who qualify for free-and reduced-lunches, into universal prekindergarten. By seeking to change the law so household income can  serve as a factor for selection, it will give priority to those children. Prekindergarten programs serve 100,000 children; with increased funding, it will reduce the 120,000 list of 4-year olds in New York waiting for seats.

Manhattan Borough President Seeks Bonds to Expand Head Start

While the majority of schools in NYC hit by Sandy’s devastation two weeks ago have reopened today, about 100 schools remain closed. Naturally the first priority is to get into these schools to do necessary repairs so they can reopen once more, in hopes of returning displaced students. But before the storm hit, Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer,  who is also a mayoral candidate for next year, proposed a way to fund early education/child care, Head Start programs. Stringer is advocating for the use of social-impact bonds, also known as pay-for-success bonds, which are loans from investors to pay for a program, to expand access to Early Head Start. Education is likely to be a key issue in the mayoral race. Stringer's proposal would not cost the tax payers anything. To make the investment worthwhile, it is expected that an early education program would require $5 million to $25 million. Alicia Glen, head of Goldman Sachs's Urban Investment Group, said, "This seems like really smart policy, and a terrific way for the public and private sector to work together and solve chronic problems." 

 Scott Stringer said, "We are fooling ourselves if we think the same old approach to funding education will get us to where we want to be." That is the mentality needed if we really want to make progress in early education. There has already been dialogue around the importance of investing in early education programs and its long term benefits not only to the child's development but also to the community and economy. It took a while, but local, state, and federal departments are beginning to push for early education investment. The next step is to develop innovative, even experimental ways of funding and investing into early education and childcare programs.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Reading Added to Check-list for Pediatricians?

Where is the one place most children go before they enter 1st grade? 
a. Pre-K
b. Kindergarten
c. The doctor's office

If you answered (c). the doctor's office, you are correct!

From Learning Matters: WATCH: Reach Out and Read

Featured on PBS News Hour, John Marrow introduces us to a new breed of pediatrician: part doctor, part teacher. Pediatricians at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan have been running a nation-wide program called Reach Out and Read. Reach Out and Read, which was founded 23 years ago by a group of doctors and early childhood educators, is an evidence-based nonprofit that promotes early literacy and school readiness and gives new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud. By building this relationship between parents and their medical providers, children can develop critical early reading skills as early as 6 months. Reach Out and Read helps children from low-income and/or immigrant families to increase skills and scores in language development assessments, thus reducing the gap for low-income children at school entry. 

Its always great to hear about initiatives like this in NYC that support the development and early education of children through reading books. Especially because reading and providing books to children is a key element of our program at HMESF; we too believe that interacting with books at early ages is critical for children's development. 

To find a Reach Out and Read program near you, check out their website:

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Special Message from Our President, Jaime Marks

Hurricane Sandy was devastating to so many people. Our prayers and hearts go out to those whose lives changed in the aftermath of Sandy.

Now is the time to work together to rebuild and focus efforts on those who need our help. Accordingly, the HMESF 5th Anniversary celebration will be rescheduled for March 2013. Refunds for tickets purchased will be processed immediately.

For the remainder of 2012, HMESF will continue with our Holiday Book Donation program. Each child at our 21 centers throughout New York City will be given a copy of Richie Frieman’s “Terple Always Dreams Bigger,” to take home. This book was just featured at our October 21st Barnes & Noble book reading and puppet show. We would like to reiterate our thanks to the families who attended the event; welcome to the HMESF family!

We would also like to let you know that our main achievement for the 2012 year, the launch of the HMESF Scholarship program, was realized this Fall. The goal of the HMESF Scholarship Program is to supplement tuition assistance programs already in place at high-quality nonprofit early-age childcare centers serving an economically disadvantaged population, to ease the burden families living in poverty and or near-poverty face in accessing quality early-age childcare and education. This year, a grant was awarded to the Mother Hale Learning Center (“MHLC”), in Harlem, NY, for use during the 2012-2013 academic year. As a result of this grant, two additional children are receiving the benefit of MHLC’s nurturing and stimulating environment. It is truly humbling to be able to have a positive impact on individual lives, and it is only through your support that we are able to do so.

Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and website to see upcoming event details and updates.

Thank you for your support in 2012, it is greatly appreciated. As we embark on our 5 Year Anniversary, we can only hope that we will be as fortunate as we have been over the past years.


Jaime S. Marks

Monday, October 22, 2012

What a Great Turn-Out for Sunday Story-time!

HMESF brought together author Richie Frieman, Terple the Turtle, and Fabipops for a fun Sunday Story-time! Yesterday the theater at Barnes and Noble on 86th Street and Lexington Ave was filled with children, toddlers, babies, parents, and grandparents eager to hear of Terple's adventures. 

HMESF with author Richie Frieman
Richie Frieman captivated story-timers from the beginning, getting the crowd involved to call for Terple to come out and join the show. Puppet Terple joined Richie Frieman on stage, after admitting to already eating 5 delicious Fabipops! We began story-time with the first book in the Terple series: Terple, introducing the imaginative and courageous young turtle dreaming of a life outside the pond. Moving onto the latest installment of the Terple series, Terple--Always Dream Bigger, Terple's parents write him a goodnight letter encouraging something all parents tell their children: you have to dream bigger if you want all your wishes to come true.

Storytime was far from over when Riche Frieman finished reading his books; Terple brought magic stones from his pond to give to each child to foster their wishes and dreams.Terple even stayed around for a meet and greet with the children, answering all questions they could come up with. 

No one walked out empty handed. Every child received an HMESF sticker and a Fabipop-a fabulous cake pop-that looked just like Terple! Parents also left with more information about HMESF's mission dedicated to putting children in the forefront and invitations to our upcoming 5th anniversary party next month. 

 For anyone who missed Sunday's Story-time, we can't send any Fabipops or stickers, but you can still participate in the Barnes and Noble book fair! Its an opportunity for our supporters to support the author and our cause. Shopping online at B&N until October 26th with a valid bookfair voucher* will allow 15% of all sales go back to HMESF! One more thing, Richie Frieman's Terple--Always Dream Bigger will be part of our book/kid donations to child care centers HMESF supports in New York City!

Check out photos from Sunday Storytime with Richie Frieman at the HMESF Facebook Page: Sunday Storytime Album!
Stay tuned for additional information for our upcoming 5th Anniversary Celebration and other updates on our  Facebook and Twitter !

*The Barnes & Noble Bookfair ID supporting HMESF is #10885242.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

TLLCCF 25th Year Anniversary Rose Gala Child Care Advocate Award,

On Saturday, October 13th the Terri Lynne Lokoff Childcare Foundation (TLLCCF,) held their annual  Rose Gala at the Lafayette Ballroom in Philadelphia.   This event annually celebrates improvements in early care and education.  However, in lieu of TLLCCF's 25th year anniversary, they paid tribute to the memory and hard work of my mother, Helene Marks. At the event they debuted their new video which included a slide show of my mother in action.  Allan Miller, the executive director, and Kay & Fred Lokoff, the founders of TLLCCF, presented my father and I with a plaque in honor of my mom.

The night was bitter sweet for both my father and I.  We are extremely proud of my moms work, and were thrilled to accept the 2013 "Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Advocate Award," on her behalf.

Allan Miller, the current director kindly spoke about my moms work. He said, "what can I say about Child Care Advocate recipient Helene Marks?  Helene was a tough cookie who was passionate about her family and about the kids and teachers we do our best to help.  I came here as director 7-1/2 years ago looking forward to working with Helene.  I knew I could teach her about the business side of things and she could teach me about never accepting, “No,” for an answer, about doggedly pursuing goals, about networking incessantly and about never turning down a request for help because, down the line, those she helped would in turn be inclined to help someone else or some other organization.  Like Terri, I wish that Helene was still here so the TLLCCF and the Helene Marks Early Start Foundation- established by Helene’s daughter Jaime, would not have to act as her proxies."

As long as I could remember, while my mom was the active director, she planned for months in preparation for the annual Rose Gala.  It looks like she has passed the torch. I have gained a greater appreciation and understanding for what it takes to plan a momentous event, as we are gearing up for our 5 year anniversary of HMESF.  It's an event you won't want to miss.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Three Days and Counting Until Sunday Storytime with Richie Frieman!

If you don’t know already, HMESF is hosting a free reading event at the 86th Street Barnes and Noble. Children's author Richie Frieman will bring to life his delightful character Terple the Turtle with a special story time and puppet show! 

Awarded the Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the 2012 Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award for Best Poetry and Rhyme book, Richie Frieman’s book will also be part of HMESF book/kid donations to child care centers in New York City. Terple--Always Dream Bigger will be sold at Sunday’s book reading and every child will receive a Fabipop--a fabulous cake pop!

In conjunction with our book reading, HMESF is also participating in a Barnes & Noble Bookfair promotion surrounding our Richie Frieman event on October 21st. It is an opportunity for HMESF to raise money to support the author and our cause. We encourage our supporters to shop at Barnes & Noble during the online portion from October 21 through October 26.* 

So if you’re in the area Sunday, drop by for storytime with our favorite turtle, a fabulous treat, and learn what's new with HMESF! 

*Supporters of the bookfair must present a valid bookfair voucher at the time of purchase. Up to 15% of all sales will go back to HMESF so help us reach our goal of $2,000! The Barnes & Noble Bookfair ID supporting the Helene Marks Early Start Foundation is #10885242.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

EDU-CAP: October 1-14

For our first round of Edu-Cap (Education News Recap), we wanted to shine light on a few stories we’ve been following for the past two week in New York City. This Edu-Cap highlights few news stories surrounding Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative to change early child care and education and how current operating care centers are adjusting in NYC.

Teachers and kids at the Washington Heights Childcare Center. The childcare is set to close on Sept. 28 at 610 West 175th. St. in Mahattan. >
Specifically the Washington Heights Child Care Center faced closing their doors last month. The center provided subsidized child care to poor and working families in financial struggle.  Despite serving the low-income community and families in the neighborhood for 42 years, funding cuts from the city pushed the nonprofit provider into a corner. A month ago, the center faced decisions to either find more donations, appeal to the City Council for funds, raise parental fees, or even close. The deadline was September 28 to find additional funding or close its doors.

At the eleventh hour, after hearing from the concerned neighborhood, the City Council agreed to kick-in a last minute $400,000 to rescue the Washington Heights Child Care Center. “Preventing this crucial institution from shutting down is a big win for our community,” said state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who represents the neighborhood. Added City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, “The best way to celebrate: Continue our commitment to invest in quality early education for the working-class families of northern Manhattan.”

The Washington Heights Child Care Center is not the only child care center struggling in these times.More than half of uptown child care centers lost their government contracts this month to provide subsidized child care for New York’s low-income families. Without the funding, 23 centers in Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood are in trouble and face decisions similar to Washington Heights Child Care Center to find additional donations, funding, or to close.

Part of Mayor Bloomberg’s early education reform, launched October 1st, subsidized child care providers, such  as those mentioned, had to reapply for city money. With Bloomberg’s goal to standardize early childhood education, he wanted to transform the system to bring quality early care and education to NYC’s “neediest and youngest children.”

With these changing policies and funding-cuts, we can only imagine the struggle of these child care providers. Yet the concern here is while the City Council was able to swoop in at the last minute to rescue Washington Heights Child Care Center, that funding ends in June. So what then?

With Bloomberg’s announcement three weeks ago to bring Educare to Brownsville Brooklyn, critics have sounded off on their opinions of the new direction of early child care and education in NYC. Susan Ochshorn,founder of ECE PolicyWorks, a consulting firm specializing in early care and education policy research, program development, and project management, put her two cents in on the transformation of early care and education in NYC. She cited words from pediatrician Elizabeth Isakson, co-director of Docs for Tots:

“Educare is an example of innovation. It will not fix the entire problem, but it is a model that has demonstrated results for some of the most vulnerable children in our country. Continuing to do what we have done for the past 40 years, in the same way, in the same places, is not going to fix the achievement gap. Innovation and experimentation are key to addressing the problems that children and families face.”

Read more at Charter Preschool: Coming Our Way

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

City to Add Pre-K Efforts in Poor Areas Next Year

"Our goal is to have every city kid arrive in kindergarten ready and prepare for a lifetime of success."
-Mayor Bloomberg, September 25, 2012 on Educare, an innovative early education program, to open in Brownsville next fall

Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner Ronald Richter, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Susan Buffett (L to R) at early childhood education announcement at New York Public Library, Sept. 24, 2012. (credit: Rich Lamb/WCBS 880)

Hearing Mayor Bloomber's words at a news conference at a two-day education summit meeting Monday was like hearing angels sing. As you may or may not know, Bloomberg's words are core elements of our mission at HMESF. We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to succeed. 

In a major step in early education, Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced that the city would open a new type of preschool in Brooklyn's Brownsville next fall, "introducing a cradle-to-kindergarten approach to education for very young children in poor neighborhoods."

Read more about Educare opening in Brooklyn in the New York Times article City to Add Pre-K Efforts in Poor Areas Next Year.

Home of the New HMESF Blog!

The official season of transition has begun! The leaves are beginning to change color, the chilly weather is settling in, and HMESF is launching its new blog. With our fifth year anniversary approaching, we at the Helene Marks Early Start Foundation are extremely excited for all we’ve planned in the upcoming months. The official blog will be a hub for upcoming HMESF events as well as a source for up-to-date information in the early child care and education field in New York City.

The Helene Marks Early Start Foundation is guided by the belief that every child deserves the opportunity to succeed. The foundation finds, funds, and fosters exemplary programs that offer children a healthy environment to achieve social and emotional well-being and academic success. Our library initiative provides a collection of age-appropriate books to early-age child care and childhood education programs for children ranging from ages one to three years old.

On that initiative, HMESF will be hosting a book reading and puppet show this October at Barnes and Noble featuring Richie Frieman’s Terple--Always Dream Bigger.  Awarded the Literary Classics Seal of Approval, Terple--Always Dream Bigger will not only be sold at the Barnes and Noble book reading, but will also be part of HMESF book/kid donations to child care centers in New York City.

The next few weeks will be an exciting time for HMESF as we approach our 5th anniversary in November.

Welcome to the official HMESF blog, enjoy and stay tuned!