The Children's Agenda

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:

What are the most important issues facing children and families in our community? A local nonprofit -- The Children's Agenda -- has a list of legislative priorities for candidates this election season. They join us to discuss K-12 funding, special education, child care, and more. It's a preview to an upcoming forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.

In studio:

  • Brigit Hurley, director of advocacy for The Children's Agenda
  • Eamonn Scanlon, education policy analyst for The Children's Agenda
  • Mary Hussong-Kallen, communications director for the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area 

The Rochester community is seeing improvements in the annual report card that tracks key measures for children in the city, but there are still challenges. That’s the gist of the annual report card from ROC the Future, which is a public private partnership consisting of government and community organizations.

Larry Marx is CEO of the group called The Children’s Agenda, and he says this report card shows that the number of four year olds enrolled in Pre-K and Head Start has grown to nearly 97 percent.