White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics Hosts the 2015 Early Learning Symposium in Chicago

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The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (Initiative) will host a 2015 Early Learning Symposium entitled, “Fulfilling America’s Future: Research, Practice, and Policy Advancing Early Childhood Education for Hispanics,” from Wednesday, June 17, through Thursday, June 18, in Chicago, Illinois.

As part of its continued effort to ensure high-quality early childhood education that is reflective of the needs of Hispanic children, the Initiative will feature national, state, and local leaders from the public and private sectors, as well as early childhood experts and practitioners discussing research, policies and practices in four key topics: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education, family engagement, dual language learning and culturally relevant care and teaching.

The Symposium will produce a set of solution-based recommendations for federal, state, local and private sectors to consider as they work to develop, expand, and replicate strategies, practices, policies and programs delivering a quality early childhood education for Hispanic children. The United Way of Metropolitan Chicago will also be in attendance to announce their “Commitment to Action” in celebration of the Initiative’s 25th anniversary. The two-day event is a follow up to the Initiative’s 2013 National Summit on Hispanic Early Learning.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s report, A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America, of the approximately 4 million 4-year olds in the Unites States, about 60 percent – or nearly 2.5 million – are not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs, including state preschool, Head Start and programs serving children with disabilities. Latinos are the United States’ fastest growing and largest minority group, making up a quarter of 3- and 4-year-olds, yet they have the lowest preschool participation rates of any major ethnicity or race.

The Obama Administration has made significant investments in early learning through the Early Learning Challenge and the Preschool Development Grants programs. The Administration has asked Congress for an increase of $500 million for Preschool Development Grants as part of the President’s FY16 budget request in order to expand this program to serve more states. Preschool Development Grants support states’ efforts to build or enhance high-quality preschool programs to serve children in high-need communities. The $250 million awarded to 18 states will benefit more than 33,000 additional children in more than high-need communities, where families have little or no access to affordable, high-quality preschool.  Additional funding would enable many more children from low-income families high-quality early learning opportunities.

The Initiative was established in 1990 to address the educational disparities faced by the Hispanic community. In September 2015, the Initiative will celebrate its 25th anniversary, a historic milestone that will be commemorated with the leveraging of public- and private-sector commitments to action that invest in quality education programs and strategies for Hispanics.

You can also follow updates on Twitter via @HispanicEd