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The Children's Agenda

Advocates urge Rochester district to balance cuts

17 hours ago
The Children's Agenda

Rochester City School District officials have to bridge an $81 million gap in its budget for the upcoming academic year, which means cuts are inevitable.

Emily Hunt / for WXXI News

The Rochester Board of Education has voted in favor of Superintendent Terry Dade’s proposal to revamp the City School District’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten program

After a spirited debate Thursday night, commissioners Ricardo Adams, Willa Powell, Natalie Sheppard, Amy Maloy and Board President Van White voted for the proposal. Beatriz LeBron and Cynthia Elliott voted against it.

James Brown / WXXI News

Superintendent Terry Dade continued his push for a revamp of the Rochester City School District’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program on Monday.

Some Rochester Board of Education members say the board is split on Supt. Terry Dade’s plan to take over 60 % of Rochester’s pre-K program. The board is set to vote on the plan Thursday.  

The district currently houses about 40 percent of pre-K students, and the rest are in 30 community-based organizations, including daycares and nonprofits, that the district partially funds. 

The Children’s Agenda recently released a new report that shows there’s a growing shortage of affordable and available child care services, both locally and nationally. According to the report, Rochester has seen improvements in the availability of child care for children in pre-K, but options for infants and toddlers are increasingly difficult to find. The Children’s Agenda is calling on local, state, and federal partners to invest more in the child care system and in providers.

This hour, we discuss the report and The Children’s Agenda’s priorities. We also hear from providers and from parents who share the challenges they’ve faced finding child care. In studio:

ROC the Future has released its annual "State of Our Children" report card, which tracks key measures of wellbeing of children and youth in the Rochester area. This year's report identifies continued challenges, including chronic absences from schools, low literacy rates in third grade, and issues related to equity. It also lists areas that are improving, including parent engagement, high-quality pre-K services, and graduation rates.

Our guests break down the report and the group's action items. In studio:

Step-by-Step Developmental Services

Even as preschool special education providers began inking contracts with Monroe County this week, the county has continued to clarify what those contracts mean.

The new agreements, set to take effect July 1, laid out new reimbursement rates for preschool special education services. The county sets these rates, and pays the providers, to ensure that children receive the services they’re entitled to under the law.

A local child-focused, nonprofit organization is offering a critique of the Rochester City School District’s proposed budget.

The Children’s Agenda review was released Thursday. It lauds the district’s decrease in suspensions, but notes that cuts in the proposed budget may stop the progress.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

The budget proposal approved Wednesday by the New York state Assembly includes a pay increase for therapists who work with the state’s youngest residents.

Reimbursement rates for early intervention providers, who work with children from birth to 3 years old, would increase 5 percent under the plan.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo proposed an increase in pay Tuesday for special education providers who haven’t seen one in almost a decade.

Dinolfo, a Republican, said the 15 percent increase is the right amount to stave off an impending shortage of speech therapists, child psychologists, counselors for parents, and other people who work in preschool special education.

“The reason we’re being so proactive is we want to make sure that we don’t put ourselves, the county, our children, in a crisis situation,” Dinolfo said.

Is there a brewing crisis in early intervention childhood services in Western New York?

Monroe County is asking New York State to change the reimbursement rate for early intervention services. Critics are urging the county to increase services and funding. Meanwhile, children and families stand to be the victims in the case of a service shortage. We explore what's happening, and why. In studio:

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