Institute for Children, Poverty and Homeless

The statistics below are directly from a July 2014 report from the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homeless.  Our children deserve so much better than this.  Information is knowledge.  Knowledge has the power to change lives.

Only six states include homeless families in the definition of those with protective-services needs, enabling them to qualify for care without meeting traditional eligibility requirements.

■■Only nine states include homeless children as a priority population.

■■At least 24 states require families applying for child care to provide birth certificates or other documentation that can be challenging for families experiencing homelessness to locate.

■■All but six states provide child care to at least some parents while they search for work, but only seven states do so while parents look for housing.3

■■Thirty states waive copayment fees for homeless families or families with no countable income.

■■Only 11 states have higher reimbursement rates for providers offering child care during nontraditional hours, such as nights and weekends.

■■Twenty-seven states will provide subsidized care for 12 months before reevaluating a family’s eligibility, offering families continuity of care, and 14 states extend eligibility while children are in Head Start.

■■Overall, only 18 plans mention homeless families or services specific to them. No state listed programs serving homeless children as having been consulted in the drafting of the CCDF plan.

Reference

Institute for Children, Poverty and Homeless (2014). Meeting the Child Care Needs of Homeless Families: How Do States Stack Up?  Retrieved from http://www.icphusa.org/PDF/reports/ICPH_policyreport_MeetingtheChildCareNeedsofHomelessFamilies.pdf

Welcoming families from around the world

href=”https://lyharwell.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/kazakhstan.gif”>Kazakhstan

The country I chose is The Republic of Kazakhstan. Located in Central Asia bordering China, Russian and the Middle East, Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world. It gained its independence in 1991 with the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. There are two languages spoken in Kazakhstan, Kazakh and Russian. Despite their economic growth due to exports in wheat and oil, only three percent of the country’s income is spent on education. Although 95 percent of their schools are state-run, many are in need of overhaul, particularly in the rural regions where resources are sparse or unavailable.

To prepare myself as an advocate to assist the family in adapting to their new community, the first place I would begin is to investigate their home country to learn about their culture and what visible similarities we share with them. I would also try to determine what region of they lived in to determine if the family had access to educational services and resources. This would provide me with a baseline of where to begin in knowing what additional resources that the entire family may need, along with their children.

The next part of my preparation would be to enlist services of their local community available in our community. If none are available, I would check within my state or contact a local UNICEF office. I believe this is important to provide the family and me with additional resources to bridge the language, customs and cultural barriers so we can communicate effectively.

I would create a package of information listing meetings and resources that I would attend with the family regarding health, social and educational services to help make their transition easier. Within this package I would provide background information on our community, the schools and local events to make the family feel welcomed.

Cultivating Professional Contacts and Resources

Young children learn from their family, community and immediate surroundings. Many face challenges of abuse, hunger, homelessness and other social and emotional circumstances. As teachers and educators, we benefit best when using resources and tools that assist us in teaching our students. Many of these resources include professional contacts with our teachers, doctors, social workers and families that can guide and provide answers on our students’ home life and cultural background. This week my colleagues and I were tasked to develop international contacts in our profession and converse on these issues and other trends related to the field of early childhood education. Earlier this week I reached out to contacts in the country of Ireland, Canada and Nigeria through the website for National Association of Educators for Young Children (NAEYC). I’ve yet to receive a response back.

Another resource available to us, are the various domestic and international websites that promote awareness on policy, health, social, international and other issues related to the health and welfare of young children. One site that I frequent regularly that advocates for young children is the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), http://www.childrensdefense.org. The CDF has been providing a voice for children for more than forty years on current issues such as hunger, cyberbullying, violence in our schools, homelessness, abuse and racial inequality to name a few. One interesting article I read this week was a repost from the New York Times entitled “Time to Try Compassion, Not Censure, for Families” (Porter, 2014). Eduardo Porter, the author of the article, talks of how the focus is shifting to assist all children who are raised in single parent homes, near or at poverty level, instead of just African-American households. In the last fifty years there has been a trend of “social dysfunction” not only among African-American culture, but white and Hispanic as well ((Porter, 2014). According to Porter “36 percent of white children are born to single mothers, as are 53 percent of Hispanics. Among blacks, the figure is 72 percent” (Porter, 2014). Many now understand that the discussion cannot focus on individual ethnic groups, but how we as a nation can change the tide for these families to ensure they have the necessary resources to send their children to quality schools and get the best education they can.

I look forward to reading more articles on different issues from CDF and sharing them with you.

References
Porter, E., (2014). Time to Try Compassion, Not Censure, for Families. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/05/business/economy/time-to-try-compassion-not-censure-for-families.html?_r=0

The Wonderful World of Web 2.0 Tools

For a recent assignment we were asked to compare synchronous and asynchronous applications. Browsing the web, I ran across a 2010 tweet on Twitter about some popular classroom tools. Prior to beginning my academic journey into distance education, the most tools I had used was zilch. I’m happy to say that I’ve experimented with a few to date such as Weebly, Twitter, WordPress, Diigo and Bubbl.us. Some classmates and I have had some difficulties using Google Docs, but I’m happy to say that we’ve gotten that resolved.

As I begin to use several web tools, I’m amazed that most of my acquaintances and friends who are educators aren’t as eager to to draft these tools for use in their traditional classrooms. Maybe I can pave the way with this article.

I have some favorite tools of my own. They are WordPress and Weebly. I’ve had fun designing my own blog page using WordPress. The application is a breeze to use and with so many themes, it’s easy to personalize. I can add different categories which allow me to easily track blogs based on technology or my personal reflections. The same can be said of Weebly, which I use for my e-portfolio. I’ve built pages to store pertinent and relevant information on courses taken, resources acquired and used, as well as another reflection and welcome page. Both allow me to add links to my Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook page. Also one of the best things about both Weebly and WordPress is that they offer free web application services. Did I mention free!

Check out the article, then check out some of the applications. They range from mindmaps to blogs to whiteboards. You won’t be disappointed. There’s something there for everyone. I’m glad I did.

“The 35 Best Web 2.0 Classroom Tools Chosen By You”. (2010). Edudemic. Retrieved from http://edudemic.com/2010/07/the-35-best-web-2-0-classroom-tools-chosen-by-you/

The debate about Wikipedia

As I continue on my journey towards a master’s in education instructional technology, this week our technology instructors have introduced us to some useful tools such as open educational resources, blogs, e-portfolios and Wiki. Wikipedia, has had its share of misgivings. Being an older student, I remember the days of library catalogs and retrieving information from encyclopaedia’s and searching endless periodicals. Since 2001, a new source for obtaining information and reference material can be obtained by using Wikipedia. The argument, and why many instructors do not accept Wikipedia as a valid reference source, is that all of Wiki’s material is maintained and updated by everyday people. Wiki are basically pages that individuals can post information on any topic, event or person. User’s of Wiki like it because it’s a great starting point to gather general information on the subject matter they are researching. Because anyone can update the page the information is constantly being updated. However, the bone of contention is how does the information get validated and how credible is the content? Each page post an admission that possible errors in the post are likely. There’s a board of individuals that read the content and context being published and vote on its authenticity. Even then it’s still prone to error. So why we would use and trust Wiki? Thomas Chesney findings in the peer-review study on “An empirical examination of Wikipedia’s credibility” asked that question to 258 academic researchers. The criteria’s for rating the credibility of the information ranged from the knowledge base of the author, the ability to validate their findings by other credible sources and was the author reliable and trustworthy. Each participant was asked to review a page in which they have first hand subject knowledge about. Based on his findings, 13% of the pages reviewed were discovered to have credibility issues (Chesney, 2006).

In the context of educators allowing Wiki to be used as a reference source, many are still skeptical. Although most of the information is scanned and rescanned quite frequently and updated when errors are found, will Wikipedia ever win the approval of experts and educators as a valid reference source? There’s an upcoming assignment in our OMDE603 class in which we’re to use Wiki as a group to discuss varying definitions on distance education. Many educators have used Wiki as a tool in the research and learning process to gather information, but will discount it as a refernce source in a student’s written paper. I’m curious to see how our input will be validated for accuracy and content once published. I’ll check back in again after we’ve completed the assignments and give you my thoughts.

Chesney, T. (2006). An empirical examination of Wikipedia?s credibility. First Monday 11 (6). http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1413/1331

Synchronous vs Asynchronous

This week in OMDE603 we began discussions on synchronous and asychronous technology used in distance education. Both technologies require the use of web browsers, white boards, possible web chats and other digital media. The difference is with synchronous technology, courses are designated at a specific time and interaction between students and teachers are structured. On the other hand asynchronous technology allows both the student and intstructor flexibility in uploading class material, the ability to access the course where they have Internet access and can review recorded chats or discussions after the initial meeting has taken place.

Mind you, these are very general and brief definitions of what synchronous and asychronous technology represent. This blog’s intent is to introduce with later converstions going into greater detail about both technologies. Let’s look at some of the tools and resources to support these environments.

Resources used for synchronous and asynchronous technology: data centers housing network and voice servers to support traditional phone lines, Voice over Internet Protocal (VoIP) services, web designers, network and systems engineers and analysts, network security personnel, customer service centers, instructional designers, library resources, telecommunication specialists, oepration managers and lastly the educators or instructors teaching the course.

Tools used for synchronous and asynchronous technology: Internet, web browsers such as IE, Firefox, Google, Yahoo, Safari, webcams, Skype, video chats, instant messaging, desktop computers, PDAs, tablets, WebEx, podcasts, Google documents and a host of other multimedia and software technology.

In the last forty years we have experienced great gains in distance education. As the digital and information age continues to evolve, technology used to support distance education will evolve as well. Comments are welcome.