Friday, October 30, 2009
Chairman Gray characterized the explanations from the executive branch about the budget gap as multiple, inconsistent and misleading. Mr. Gray's frustration came through loud and clear:
Frankly, I would prefer to be here today engaging in an open, inclusive dialogue around how we as a city can come together to support our city’s children through increasing early childhood educational opportunities or providing teachers and local schools the support they need to succeed.
Instead, this committee has been forced to conduct oversight on a budget gap that remains a puzzle; investigate why teachers were escorted out of schools by security, why LSRTs (local school restructuring team) were shut out of their local school decision-making process, and why our students have had to witness resulting chaos.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
What? You did not just ask what Loose Lips Daily is, did you? For the record, LLD is an awesome resource for those too busy (or lazy) to read the gazillion blogs, Web sites, and newspapers and watch/listen to the gazillion+ radio and television stations. Subscribe today - you won't regret it!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Northwest One was the District's first New Community project, a major investment in physical and human capital to rehabilitate Sursum Corda. More information about Northwest One is online here.
Monday, October 26, 2009
This forum will present information about the DCPS Early Childhood Education Program and provides an opportunity for attendees to ask questions. Brain development is the key to the future for individuals, families, and communities as was stated in a 2004 report:
Universal school readiness is the foundation for high educational achievement and civic engagement in the District of Columbia. A comprehensive system to deliver school readiness is an investment in the quality of life for young children in our city, today and their role as civic leaders in the future. (Road Map to Universal School Readiness in the District of Columbia)
Friday, October 23, 2009
The chief's solution to the problem of gang violence is for witnesses to call and report what they know, confidentially of course. Asked about community organization involvement with gangs (gang intervention), the chief replied that numerous organizations are working on the crew and gang issue and that all others have to do is just get involved. (minutes 7:45-9:30)
Susie's comments: Getting involved is not easy as the chief may have suggested, though I don’t blame the chief for not knowing this. The fact is that successful and effective gang intervention requires training, skill and resources. It also requires strong connections to others – both government and community resources. Finally, effective gang interventions are grounded in research and theory. Researchers, for example, have found that some interventions actually strengthen gang bonds. This is important to know.
We also know from experience that wanting to help is not enough. So all due respect to Chief Lanier, not everyone interested is equipped to do the work.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Areas highlighted in the press event were:
- Maintaining safety reforms – CFSA is routinely achieving timely investigation goals; timeliness happens more than 90 percent of the time.
- Ensuring permanent homes – One innovative strategy to achieve permanency for kids is the "high impact team" comprised of CFSA and Adoptions Together staff. The team focuses on speeding up adoption.
- Improving child and youth well being – CFSA has a number of new initiatives including an in-house medical clinic and education assessments using a new process and tools.
CFSA is still not out of the woods with the LaShawn case. Time will tell how these and other innovations and improved practices will result in better outcomes for children and youth and how these outcomes in turn can help get CFSA out from under court oversight.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
What this means for the District of Columbia is that the Adult Literacy Resource Center at DC Public Library’s main library (Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St NW) and DC LEARNs are collaborating to recognize the many achievements of adult learners and the connections between adult literacy and other issues, such as public health, housing, and safety.
But wait, there’s more: DC’s activities feature a book giveaway contest featuring books by and about adult learners such as Life is Not a Fairytale by Fantasia Barrino and The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read by John Corcoran. The new DC LEARNs DC adult literacy blog will operate the contest. The giveaways start October 20th. To find out which book will be given away when, fan DC adult literacy to be updated.
Book to be given away on October 20: Fantasia's Life is Not a Fairytale.
Monday, October 19, 2009
There is plenty of research on gangs and crews, how certain approaches solidify the bonds while others can weaken them. Irving Spergel, Cheryl L. Maxon, and Malcom W. Klein have literally written the book (actually many books and articiles) on gangs and crews going back years. One of the take-aways from their work is that there are significant differences between youth delinquency and crime and gang/crew violence and crime.
Is there misinformation out there about juvenile's bad and illegal behavior? Yes, of course there is. And Vinny Schiraldi can talk about that. But if we are seriously interested in stopping the terror wrought by gangs and crews, let's sit down with what we know about their behavior (here in DC and the researched behavior of the above-mentioned experts) and hammer out an intentional, well resourced and sustained approach to shutting them down.
Residents want nothing less than an appropriate response. An example is this comment from a Ward 1 resident to the recent post on this blog, Any solutions to gang/crew violence out there?:
I thought your comments on the slipshod approach to Gang Warfare that Fenty (and every other administration for thirty years) has taken really hit the mark. I live near the Columbia Village morass, so the reality of beefs entering my home turf is never far away. And Halloween is the time I try to stay inside or come back the next day.
So this resident, who has the resources to leave his home during what is supposed to be a fun holiday, has to leave his home because of the expected gang/crew activity. What about those who don't have resources? And why do law abiding residents have to leave their home at all? So while I am glad that Kojo is doing a show on youth violence, I have to ask if there is not a better, more appropriate discussion to have? And beyond this WAMU program, who else is going to lead on solving this problem?
Sunday, October 18, 2009
- Public oversight roundtable on "Managing the H1N1 Virus in the District of Columbia", October 28: The Committee in Health (CM Catania, At-large, chair) is holding this roundtable at 2:00 pm in the Council Chamber. The purpose of this roundtable is to hear a presentation by the Department of Health about its plan for managing the H1N1 virus in the District of Columbia. This roundtable will be open to the public; however, only invited witnesses will be permitted to provide oral statements. Details about submitting statements for the record are in the hearing notice.
- Public hearing on Bill 18-324, Advisory Neighborhood Commission Vacancy Amendment Act of 2009": The Committee on Aging and Community Affairs (CM Alexander, Ward 7, chair) will hold this hearing on November 5 at 6:00 pm in Room 412 of the JAWB. The purpose of the bill to simplify the process of replacing advisory neighborhood commissioners when there is only one person qualified to fill a vacancy and to clarify who receives a Commissioner's letter of resignation. Details about testifying are in the hearing notice.
Friday, October 16, 2009
- 1D's Zombie Village October 30 & 31
- 2D's Halloween Safe Haven October 31
- 3D's Haunted House October 31
- 4D's Haunted District October 31
- 5D's Safe Haven, PSA 505 Brookland Annual Boo Bash, and PSA 501 Bloomingdale Halloween Block Party (read flier for dates)
- 6D's Halls of Horror, Halloween Spooktacular Cabaret October 31, and Community Halloween Safe Haven October 31
- Haunted House Safe Haven of Ward 8 October 31
Other events include:
- Alison Gee as Mistress Beatrice Pickles, featuring Halloween-themed tales (storytelling) on various days at the end of October
- Mentoring Works2 on October 30
- National Building Museum's Haunted Halloween on various days
Mayor Fenty responded by saying that these are complex, deep-rooted issues that the police and social service agencies will have to deal with. And while the long-view is absolutely necessary as Mayor Fenty pointed out when he said the city was working to improve education, the fact is that too few DC government agencies and nonprofits 1) know what to do to intervene in these beefs and 2) have demonstrated experience doing the hard work of gang/crew intervention. Let's not forget the Chief Lanier and other high ranking officials in MPD have said that they cannot arrest their way out of gang and crew activity and violence.
And in this economic environment, there is little funding dedicated to intervention. Perhaps the government can cobble together funding but this approach is not possible in the private sector. Worse, some would argue that having to cobble together funding just goes to show how little we value these individuals and communities. We don't, for example, do tax credits on a hit or miss basis, implemented now but not later, cut when revenues dry up. So what is it about this issue that makes this approach acceptable?
Finally, what role do we expect individuals and families to play with violence, drug dealing, criminal behavior, and the like? And why is the government on the hook for solving this?
If you are interested in following up on this issue with the mayor next week, send an email to Fenty [AT] nbcwashington [DOT] com.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
For a local spin on children and disasters, read this October 13 post.
- Report: Audit of the Department of Employment Services’ 2008 Summer Youth Employment Program (August 27, 2009)
- Auditor’s Certification Review of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (September 23, 2009)
You can sign up to receive email notices of report publications by going to the DC Auditor's Press Room.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
- For educators, check out Alexander Russo’s "This Week In Education" hosted by Scholastic
- The Atlantic
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I have long believed that we should rely on people with expertise to help those without it. In this case, that means that the District's emergency management agency should proscribe a framework for disaster plans to be developed by early learning facilities. These plans should be linked to the District Response Plan.
Why this concern now? The National Commission on Children and Disasters is about to release their interim report to President Obama this week. The purpose of the commission is to focus attention on children precisely because "Children comprise about 25 percent of our population and have unique needs during a disaster that require specific recognition and coordination on the part of federal, state, Tribal and local governments and their non-governmental disaster-relief partners." More simply put by Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator, "children are not small adults" and thus emergency disaster planning must consider the needs of children at all stages of planning, not as an add-on issue.
In anticipation of the report release, I encourage policy makers, providers and advocates to watch the hour-long National Press Club Luncheon with Mark Shriver and Craig Fugate. Folks should also take a look at the Save the Children document THE DISASTER DECADE: Lessons Unlearned for the United States which points out that DC has only one of the four necessary child protection during disaster components and that is an evacuation plan. DC does not have plans for reunification efforts, plans for children with special needs in child care (although this presumably is covered under the child care regs mentioned above), and K-12 written procedure for disaster planning.
The emergency and proposed rules are online.
Details about comment procedures are found in the rules.
- Summary of the hearing from the Committee on Health: On Thursday, the Committee on Health held its joint committee meeting with Councilmember Tommy Wells’s Committee on Human Services on B18-356, the Jacks-Fogle Family Preservation Case Coordination Authorization Act of 2009. The Committees heard from a variety of community advocates that expressed support for better coordination among District agencies but are also concerned about privacy issues that may emerge as a result of this coordination. Witnesses also included representatives from national organizations and other states that have begun implementation of similar legislation, as well as Clarence Carter, Director of the Department of Human Services. As stated during the hearing, Councilmember Catania is committed to the intent behind the bill but recognizes that there are significant issues that must still be addressed before moving the legislation through the Committee process. The Committee on Health looks forward to working collaboratively with the Executive and members of the community to determine how best to develop a coordinated response to individuals and families in crisis.
- Witness list
- Testimony from the American Public Human Services Association (Part I and Part II)
Monday, October 12, 2009
The purpose of this roundtable is to hear a presentation about the Youth Sexual Health Project and its resulting report, A Youth-Inspired Sexual Health Framework. (Check out the preliminary findings.) The Youth Sexual Health Project is a result of a partnership between Chairman Vincent C. Gray and Committee Chair David A. Catania to produce a framework for youth sexual health education and promotion in the District of Columbia based on guidance from the District youth themselves. This hearing will be open to the public; however, only invited witnesses will be permitted to provide oral statements.
The purpose of the bill is to "amend the Lead Hazard Prevention and Elimination Act of 2008 to create new definitions; to expand protections to pregnant women and children under 6 years of age; to correct technical errors; and to create a private right of action." The bill was introduced in January 2009 by CMs Cheh and Wells (Ward 6) and co-sponsored by CMs M Brown (At-large), Barry (Ward 8), Alexander (Ward 7), and Gray (At-large).
The purpose of this roundtable is to hear an update on services administered by APRA. This roundtable will be open to the public; however, only invited witnesses will be permitted to provide oral statements.
Friday, October 9, 2009
At-large CM Michael Brown had this to say in his opening remarks:
Thank you Chairman Catania and Chairman Wells. The concerns raised by the Jacks-Fogle tragedy highlight the need to strengthen and tighten our safety net to ensure that innocent children don’t slip through the holes. However, it is also important to remember that the majority of factors that led to this tragedy were based on the fact that agency staff were not doing their jobs correctly and already established protocols were not followed. Therefore, while I will always support efforts to increase and improve interagency communication and coordination, I think we also must not forget that improving the basics such as training, supervision, and accountability would have prevented the Jacks-Fogle tragedy.The Committee on Health, the lead on the hearing, is accepting public comment through October 22. Details about submitting statements are in the hearing notice.
That being said, there are many parts of the bill before us today that I support, but there are also many parts where the lack of specifics concern me. Furthermore, finding the balance between effective and appropriate information sharing, and the right to privacy is a question that we must further explore before coming to a final decision.
The issues presented by this case and this bill are complex and I look forward to a robust discussion and an inclusive legislative process that will produce the most informed and responsible policy. I want to thank everyone for coming out and ask that we all address this legislation and this issue with an open mind and work together to protect our city’s families that are in crisis.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The DC Open Government Coalition is having its first public event, a panel discussion and public forum, Transparency in the District of Columbia - Accessing Government Information and Meetings in D.C.: What's at Stake, and Where Do We Go From Here? The free forum is the evening of October 21.
Are there any more sources you rely on everyday? Let me know and I will post so others can also be in the know!
Do you have data sources to share? Email me and I will post them.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
See you at the rally.
- Department of Disability Services: Build partnerships to increase the number of youth with disabilities in summer and year round employment
- DC Public Library: Increase library resources for children and their parents, teachers, and caregivers to support literacy. Provide staff, books and library materials that focus on pre-school and elementary school age children.
- Department of Health: By September 2010 complete implementation of the DOH components of the Child Health Action Plan which targets the reduction of infant mortality and morbidity in the District of Columbia.
This information is quite useful. You can ask how the goals will be met if certain public policies/laws are changed, use them during the oversight hearings in February and March next year, and assess agency practice against the goals.
Seriously folks, the Web site and changes rock! Features of the new site, http://www.dcregs.org/ include: email notifications of updates, a list of ways to participate in the rulemaking process, a search capability, and a tally of recent rulemaking activity by type. More information is available online.
The Office of Documents and Administrative Issuances (ODAI) is responsible for this terrific new tool.
- Remarks at the Disability Awareness Conference, 9:30 am (Kennedy Recreation Center, 1401 Seventh St NW)
- Remarks, Pre-Kindergarten Accomplishments Announcement, 10:30 am (Beers Elementary School, 3600 Alabama Ave SE)
Stay tuned here. CFSA is planning an open house and special appreciation reception in the next few weeks.
Monday, October 5, 2009
This funding follows a few years' breather of non-local funding to increase Medicaid and CHIP enrollment. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Covering Kids (CK) and Covering Kids & Families (CKF) were national programs to help states increase the number of eligible children and later families in public health insurance programs following the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The core components of Covering Kids and CKF were outreach, simplification and coordination. DC Action for Children was the DC grantee.
CK and CKF had many successes including working with IMA to shorten the Medicaid application, train front-line workers of all kinds to help residents fill out their application, integrate health insurance questions into the intake process of nonprofits across the city, raise awareness of the importance of health insurance, and most important of all, enroll thousands of children and their family members in a health insurance program.
If this new project is only half as successful as CK/CKF, children will truly be the winners.
An October 2 DCPS press release, "Schools Across the District Finalize Budget Adjustments", presented a brief summary of the budget shortfall and school-level budget adjustments. Additional information was attached to the release:
- October 2, 2009: Letter to Staff from Chancellor Michelle Rhee
- October 2, 2009: Letter to Parents from Chancellor Michelle Rhee
- Frequently Asked Questions and Additional Information for Separated Employees
You would have to be living under a rock to not know that there is significant disagreement between the legislative and executive branches on the equalization process and the DCPS FY 2010 budget. Council Chair Vince Gray appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi show on October 2. If you missed the show, you can watch the "Vincent Gray (D) on School Reform and Teacher Firings- Part 2" segment on YouTube or listen to it here. Kojo and Mike DeBonis, sitting in Tom Sherwood's chair (only Mike was sitting in the chair, not Mike and Kojo), framed the conversation with Mr. Gray this way: "Is the D.C. Council micromanaging the school reform process? D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray (D) discusses the Councils relationship with Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) and D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee."
Expect the debate to heat up on Monday, October 5 when Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers president, joins Kojo Nnamdi at Noon. You can listen to the program via the WAMU Web site, or The Kojo Nnamdi Show Web site or on the radio, 88.5 FM.
Friday, October 2, 2009
This summer, A Vista Events transformed one small, dark narrow and mismatched room into a fun and relaxing ‘beach house’ lounge for youth of all ages. The team painted the walls, replaced the carpet and installed a wallpaper mural to expand the visual space. A Vista also refurbished some unused furniture stored in its warehouse to complete the decoration and provide a comfortable place for parents to visit with their children.
This month, A Vista Events will tackle CFSA's large "comfort lounge" primarily used by older children. For this space, A Vista is painting original art canvases featuring inspirational messages, and then engaging clients to sponsor the artwork with donations of $100. A Vista has sold ten canvases so far, in addition to raising other donations. These artful benefactors have also contacted IKEA, Target and Sherwin Williams with requests to donate furniture, paint, toys, and a plasma TV.
But CFSA tells me that more is needed for both rooms. The smaller room in particular needs books for younger children and Target gift cards will help the decorators and CFSA fully stock both rooms. If you are interested in helping CFSA with these comfort rooms, contact Beatrice Williar, Program Manager of Partners for Kids in Care, (202) 727-7101, beatrice [DOT] williar [AT] dc [DOT] gov.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
- Over 1,200 children with at least three gifts each;
- More than 3,800 gifts; and
- More than 300 Thanksgiving turkey baskets.
With your help, Child and Family Services Agency can make the 2009 Holiday Donation Drive even more successful than the 2008 drive. There are a number of donation opportunities to suit you.
There are other opportunities so check them out here.