Sunday, January 31, 2010

How the FY 2011 federal budget will impact kids

A number of national organizations have organized webinars and events designed to get advocates up to speed on how the FY 2011 Obama Administration budget impacts children, youth, and families.   I've pulled this short list together.

Important, random things

Odds and ends of learning, advocacy, and partnership opportunities:
  • Rooting DC’s annual conference is being held February 20 at the Washington Historical Society.   This day-long event – which includes panel discussions, workshops and talks - is free and open to the public.   More on the Web site.
  • The new DC Food Justice Coalition is an umbrella group of health, food, and wellness organizations that have come together to at once promote the work of member organizations and build the public will and develop a political/social/economic/moral movement on empowering youth and families East of the River around healthy affordable and accessible food and making healthy solutions.   More information is available from Tambra Stevenson, Vice President of the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association (MWPHA) at (202) 236-0371.
  • Love is in the air!   Once again, BabyLove DC is doing a drive for gently used maternity, infant, and children's clothes, blankets, diaper bags, swings, strollers, etc.   The drive is scheduled for February 6 from 9:30 am - 1:30 pm.   Details about what is needed and more about this local nonprofit helping families in need are on their Web site.
  • Approximately 150 SF in office space is available immediately on the first floor of the Emergence Community Arts Collective (ECAC) located at 733 Euclid St NW.   The rent is $350 per month which includes utilities.   Applicant must be a non-profit organization.   For questions or to schedule a visit, call (202) 462-2285 or email Sylvia (at) ecacollective (dot) org.   For more information on the ECAC, visit http://www.ecacollective.org/.
  • DC LEARNS director Jeff Carter is going to part-time for DC Learns in February when he enters the new role of Director of Policy and Government Affairs for the national group ProLiteracy.   Starting in February, MaryAnn Florez, Director of the Adult Education Professional Development Center (AEPDC), will be promoted to Director of Operations for DC LEARNs, providing oversight over all of their projects and activities.

Capitol Hill residents petition for solutions to crime

As of 3:35 pm on Sunday, January 31, 392 folks (individuals, couples, and families) have signed on in support of a new Capitol Hill petition to Mayor Fenty to take action to fight crime on Capitol Hill.   The petition, in part, reads:
We ask Mayor Fenty to help make our neighborhood a safer place by increasing funding and/or manpower to the appropriate law enforcement agencies/individuals.

Then the petition says this:

We demand implementation of alternative approaches that will actually target the problem, rather than the symptom and thus truly make a sustainable difference in the safety and lives of Hill residents.

Good to see some local collective action to address what is surely a problem.   Also good to see that residents are interested are interested in targeting the problem (Susie's interpretation:   poverty, undereducation, un- and under-employment) rather than the symptom.

It will be interesting to see how Mayor Fenty responds.   It will also be interesting to hear what CM Alexander and MPD chief Lanier have to say at the February 3 public safety meeting (more information here).   Finally, will be interesting to know what alternatives are employed, whether data will be collected about their effectiveness, and whether the community feels safer as a result.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Updated oversight and budget hearings skeds

Here are the updated schedules for the FYs 2009-2010 oversight and FY 2011 budget hearings.   These are the complete skeds from the council's budget office.   They have been updated from what was published in the January 29, 2010 edition of the DC Register.

Keep checking back here for updated schedules.

Eastland Gardens/Kenilworth public safety meeting

Ward 7 CM Yvette Alexander is sponsoring a meeting on public safety in Eastland Gardens/Kenilworth communities on February 3 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm at Kenilworth Elementary School (1300 44th St NE).   MPD chief Cathy Lanier will attend the meeting to hear resident concerns.   Direct questions about the meeting to Shameka Johnson in the CM's office; the number is 724-8068.

From the January 29 DCR

The Register was slim and only three child- and youth-related items:
  • Public oversight roundtable on the United Medical Center:   The Committee on Health (CM Catania, At-large, chair) is holding this roundtable on February 8 at 10:00 am in the Council Chamber, JAWB.   Members of the public may submit written testimony; only invited witnesses may testify at the roundtable.   More information about the hearing is in the hearing notice.
  • ABC proposed rulemaking about sales to minors:   The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has published proposed rules in the January 29 DCR that clarifies what constitutes "an 'egregious' first-time sale to minor violation."   The Board will take action in not less than 30 days from the date of publication.   The public may submit comments before the 30 days are up; details are in the notice.
  • Charter school financing and support:   The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announced the February 2 meeting of the District of Columbia Public Charter School Credit Enhancement Fund Committee in this edition of the Register.   Details are in the notice.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Democratic state committe updates Web site

From the DC Democratic State Committee is the news that DCDSC.org has undergone some technical plastic surgery.   The new look is more "professional" and "modern"; most of the content, however, remains the same.   Sections of the site include a blog and the "most recent addition, liveiTV, where events can be watched live on the Party’s website."   For those interested in being briefed on all this Democratic Party in DC, sign up for DCDSC Google group.

Mayor Fenty at Rosedale Rec on 1/29

Mayor Fenty will make remarks at the presser on the reconstruction update of Rosedale Recreation Center.   Hear what the mayor and others have to say January 29 at 2:00 pm at 1700 Gales St NE.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Where to find non-child related oversight and budget hearing info

The City Council's FYs 2009-2010 oversight hearings and FY 2011 budget hearings will be published in the January 29 edition of the DC Register.

Catania enters At-large race

At-large CM David Catania -- now Independent, formerly Republican -- has filed papers to enter the At-large race this year.   The D.C. Wire announced it first and DCist picked it up.

The FY 2011 budget hearing sked is out!

Here is the schedule of the child- and youth-related FY 2011 budget hearings being held by the committees of the Council of the District of Columbia.   As always, the schedule will change and updates will be made on the City Council's Web site and I will try to keep up with the kid-related ones here.

Oversight hearings schedule finally here

Here is the schedule of the child- and youth-related FYs 2009 and 2010 oversight hearings being held by the committees of the Council of the District of Columbia.   As always, the schedule will change and updates will be made on the City Council's Web site and I will try to keep up with the kid-related ones here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

OCT now on Twitter

The city's Office of Cable Television (OCT) is now on Twitter as @OCTDC/http://twitter.com/OCTDC.

Science lovers needed as science fair judges

Center City Public Charter Schools are recruiting volunteer judges for the campus and citywide science fairs in mid-February and early March.   Campus competitions (there are six campuses) are being held during the week of February 16 and the citywide competition is held on March 6.   Those interested in volunteering should contact Jessica Baldwin, Curriculum Specialist by calling (202) 589-0202 x116 or emailing jbaldwin (at) centercitypcs (dot) org.

CM Bowser's Office Hours in the Ward, 1/30

Ward 4 CM Muriel Bowser is holding Office Hours in the Ward on Saturday, January 30 from Noon - 2:00 pm at Peaches Kitchen (6214 3rd St NW).   Stop by for a one-on-one chat with the Councilmember.   If you have questions or plan to attend, contact Brandon Todd at 202-741-0917 or btodd (at) dccouncil (dot) us.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Two important budget trainings

DC Fiscal Policy Institute and the Fair Budget Coalition are sponsoring two budget trainings this week.   The first is Budget 101:   Everything You Want To Know (And We Want You To Ask!) on January 28 in the morning.   The second is Budgeting With Balance:   An In Depth Discussion of How DC Can Raise Revenue on January 29 in the morning.   Details are in the calendar at the end of this blog.

Monday, January 25, 2010

DC Public Charter School Board meeting on Twitter

Did you miss the DC Public Charter School board meeting January 25?   Read what happened by checking out the Tweets.

DC State Board of Education Elects new officers

Members of the DC State Board of Education have just elected the new President and Vice President.   Ted Trabue was elected to the office of President and Laura Slover was elected to the office of Vice President.

Check out the calendar updates

The calendar at the bottom of the blog has been updated.   Check it out and you will find things like the February 8 "Homeless for Displaced:   Gentrification and Homelessness" panel; the February 20 new volunteer orientation for Little Lights Urban Ministries; and the January 27 DPCS event "Everything You Need to Know About Pre-School/Pre-K and Out of Boundary Lottery Process."

Is your organization hosting a child-, youth-, or family-related policy event?   Let me know and I will include it in the calendar.   Are you offering a training that would be useful for DC providers, analysts, advocates, and residents?   Let me know and I will include it in the calendar.

EOM staffing changes

On January 22, Mayor Fenty announced various staffing changes in the Executive Office of the Mayor (EOM).   The results of the shuffle:
  • Chris Taylor, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services
  • Ashley Marshall, Director of the Mayor’s Correspondence Unit
  • Erica Easter, Director of the Office of Boards and Commissions
  • Tracy Sandler, Director of Serve DC
  • Sarah Latterner, Director of the Office of Community Affairs

More information about each staffer is in the press release.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Emergency and proposed rules

There were two child- and youth-related emergency and proposed rules published in the January 22, 2010 DC Register:
  • The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) published proposed rules in the January 22 DC Register related to qualifications for Montessori school directors and teachers.   The proposal revises adult/child ratios and group size requirements.   OSSE plans to take action in not less than 30 days from the date of publication.   Comments should be submitted to the State Superintendent of Education; details are in the notice.
  • The Child and Family Services Agency has published emergency and proposed rules for independent living programs.   The rule amends Section 6323.7 of Chapter 63 (Licensing of Independent Living Programs for Adolescents and Young Adults) of Title 29 (Public Welfare) of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations to require independent living programs to employ at least one social worker for every 20 program residents.   The rule became effective January 12.   They will remain in effect for 120 days from the date of adoption, unless earlier rescinded or superseded by a Notice of Final Rulemaking.   CFSA will take action on final rulemaking in not less than 30 days of publication of this notice in the DCR.   Details about submitting comments are in the notice.

Final rules in 1/22/10 DCR

Two final rules published in the January 22 DC Register related to children and youth:
  • The State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) issued final rules regarding parent fees for subsidized child care.   The rule has been in effect as an emergency since October 1, 2009 and as an emergency and proposed rule since October 2, 2009.   The final rule is online.
  • The State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) issued final rules regarding special education.   The rule delineates the procedures for special education resolution meetings and due process hearings; these are required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).   According to the notice
    Under the IDEA, a local education agency (LEA) or a parent may file a due process complaint on any matter relating to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a child with a disability or relating to the provision of a free and appropriate public education to the child.   The IDEA mandates that the parties convene a resolution meeting to resolve the complaint, unless waived by the parties or the parties engage in mediation.   The IDEA also requires a timeline for an administrative hearing if the complaint is not otherwise resolved.

    The final rule is "substantially the same" as the October 16, 2009 proposed rule.   This final rule was effective with publication in the DCR.

Mark Segraves adds "Ask City Hall" to his portfolio

Mark Segraves, lead investigative reporter at WTOP (WTOP 103.5 FM and 103.9 FM), adds "Ask City Hall", a call-in talk show, to his portfolio.   (See Mark Segraves on WDCW)

"Ask City Hall" debuts Monday, January 25 at 10:00 am with City Council Chair Vincent C. Gray and Ward 5 CM Harry Thomas, Jr.   The show will re-air on NewsChannel 8 Monday evening at 11:00 pm and again on NewsPlus with Mark Segraves on WDCW ("The CW").   CM Thomas' press release says that listeners can email in a question to Mark in advance of the 25 show by using this link.   The call in number for the day of the show is 1-877-336-1035.

Council hearings noticed in latest DCR

The latest from the City Council:
  • "The Contracting Process Related to Parks and Recreation Projects" joint public oversight roundtable:   Convened by the Committee on Economic Development (CM K Brown, At-large, chair); Committee on Government Operations and the Environment (CM Cheh, Ward 3, chair); Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation (CM Thomas, Ward 5, chair); and Committee on Housing and Workforce Development (CM Barry, Ward 8, chair), this roundtable is being held on January 27 at 1:00 pm in the JAWB.   Details about the hearing, including how to register to testify, are in the hearing notice.
  • "Youth Issues" public oversight hearing for youth only:   The Committee of the Whole (Council Chair Vincent C. Gray, At-large, chair) is holding this hearing on February 13 at 10:00 am in the Council Chamber in the JAWB.   Details about the hearing, including how to register to testify, are in the hearing notice.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Deanwood Rec update, January 22

On January 22 at 10:30 am, Mayor Fenty will make remarks at this event to update the community on the status of the $33 million Deanwood Recreation Center (1350 49th St NE).

CM Evans' new communications staffer

Ward 2 CM Jack Evans has announced that his new communications director is Andrew Huff.   Huff will also serve as Evans' liaison for the Dupont Circle and downtown neighborhoods.   He can be reached at ahuff (at) dccouncil (dot) us and 724-8058.

Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs oversight/budget sked

The Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs' oversight hearing sked is:
  • Office of the People's Counsel:   March 3, 10:00 am - Noon
  • Public Service Commission:   March 3, 1:00 - 3:00 pm
  • Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking:   3:00 - 6:00 pm
  • Office of the Tenant Advocate:   March 12, 10:00 am -Noon
  • Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs:   March 12, 1:00 - 5:00 pm

The FY 2011 budget hearings being held by Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs are:

  • Office of the People's Counsel:   April 27, 10:00 am - Noon
  • Public Service Commission:   April 27, 1:00 - 3:00 pm
  • Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking:   April 27, 3:00 - 6:00 pm
  • Office of the Tenant Advocate:   May 3, 10:00 am - Noon
  • Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs:   May 3, 1:00 - 5:00 pm

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A modern poverty measure

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)'s January 11 webinar Federal and Local Efforts to Modernize the Poverty Measure is now available online.

The expert panelists discuss the limitations of the current poverty measure and the status of developing a modern measure that "reflects current spending patterns, geographic differences in the cost of living, and government tax and benefit policies."

Also available is a new report Who are America's Poor Children?:   The Official Story.

DC is coming into money. . . . for energy assistance

The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on January 20 announced the release of $490 million in contingency funding for energy assistance for low-income families.   The District will receive $1,746,897 of the nearly half a billion dollars.

The contingency funds are in addition to the funds HHS released on January 12.   Recall that the earlier award of $3.4 million was regular, automatic funding states (and DC) receive each year via federal block grant.   This latest award is also in addition to the money sent to DC in October 2009, also block grant funding.

Volunteers needed to provide childcare for progressive groups

The DC Childcare Collective, a small all-volunteer group, is founded on the belief that mothers, women of color, and people with low income are critical leaders of healthy and effective social justice movements.   As an act of solidarity, the DCCC provides free childcare to progressive groups in the DC metro area that are working to further social justice.
It is our mission to make childcare that is safe, fun, and empowering available to families, as a way of supporting their work to further social and political change.
The DCCC provides childcare to groups in order to make their work more accessible for people who are most affected by the lack of affordable, quality childcare options.

DCCC is holding a Volunteer Orientation on Sunday, February 7 from 1:00 - 5:00 pm.   Volunteers are asked to make a commitment to provide childcare at least six times over the course of 12 months and attend additional trainings that DCCC provides.

If you are interested, complete the volunteer application on the DCCC Web site and send it to dckids (at) gmail (dot) com, or email them for a copy.   The deadline for applications is February 1.

Events and information from DC Public Schools

There has been a flurry activity from DCPS:

Questions about the DCPS budget such as it is

Periodically I hear from someone (an anonymous someone) who pays close attention to DCPS and their budget.   In the spirit of budget season, I am sharing the latest list of questions about the FY 2011 DCPS budget, albeit a budget that is not final.   Hopefully these questions will stimulate some further discussion.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Youth take leadership role in City Council public roundtable January 22

"Yes Youth Can:   Confronting the Challenges of Aging Out" is the subject of a January 22 public roundtable being convened by the Committee on Human Services.   The roundtable, at the request of committee chair CM Tommy Wells (Ward 6), is featuring members of the Foster Care Campaign (FCC), a project of the Young Women's Project (YWP).

The purpose of the hearing is collect information and raise awareness about the experiences and struggles of older youth; the availability and effectiveness of youth programming and services and how much services cost; and what the impact is on the well-being and success of older youth.

Both the Young Women's Project and CM Wells have expressed an interest in improving the outcomes of youth who are in foster care.   The Committee on Human Services' draft FY 2010 committee report (April 30, 2009), for example, directed Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) to competitively bid life skills and other important services and supports -- which CFSA historically offered through Center of Keys for Life -- to a private service provider.   YWP was a leading supporter of this mandate.

The work of the youth involved with the Foster Care Campaign goes well beyond Center for Keys for Life.   FCC successes include:

  • Working with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Children and Youth, FCC helped write and successfully advocated for foster care group home regulations, which became law in September 2001.
  • Writing Taking Matters into Our Own Hands, a survival guide for DC youth in foster care.
  • FCC conducted focus groups in 13 group homes and collected surveys to document teen needs and experiences.   The data was included in CSSP's June 2001 report Foster Care Group Homes in the District of Columbia.

CFSA is expected to brief the committee and the community on the Office of Youth Empowerment and how CFSA is engaging youth in program planning and evaluation.

Details about the roundtable, including how to register to testify, are in the hearing notice.

A must read:   The Slow Cook's "Tales from a D.C. School Kitchen"

The Slow Cook's Ed Bruske is recounting these tales in a six-part series that begins today.   And what he found Day 1 was baked ziti, that even as an Italian in surname only sounds nothing like the baked ziti I am used to from the paisans in Middletown and Manchester, CT.   No matter, Bruske has sucked me in to this series.   You should read it, too.

Did you know these facts?

You may remember that the Council for Court Excellence published the Guide to the DC Juvenile Justice System and a version in Spanish last year.

Related to this guide are statistics which put the state of juvenile justice and youth crime in perspective.   Consider, for example,

  • 7%:   The percentage of total juvenile arrests by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD); the remaining 93% were arrests of adults.
  • 44%:   The percentage of juvenile arrests by MPD that did not result in prosecution in Juvenile Court.

ICSIC news

The FY 2010 budget support act (BSA), B18-203, "Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Support Act of 2009", requires that the mayor appoint five community members to the Interagency Collaboration and Services Integration Commission (ICSIC).   The BSA also requires appointment of the director of the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (CYITC) and the president of the District of Columbia State Board of Education.

Mayor Fenty has made the appointments and they are:

  • CYITC Executive Director, Ellen London
  • DC State Board of Education President, Lisa Raymond
  • Local funder of youth service and development activities, George Vradenburg
  • Representative of the early childhood education community, HyeSook Chung
  • Representative of the youth service provider community, Lori Kaplan
  • Representative from the post-secondary preparedness community, Martha Ross
  • Expert on primary and secondary education policy, Lucretia Murphy

From the beginning, many in the community have called for public participation on the ICSIC.   Supporters of community members believed greater transparency would result if the public was represented.   I was not one.   I believe the government needs space to deal with issues, challenges, problems -- call them what you will.   But now that we have public members, it seems that these questions are in order:

  1. How will the public members (excluding CYITC and the DC State Board of Education) gather information from others in the community and share it with fellow ICSIC members?   Will the public members take responsibility for developing a process for gathering information?
  2. Following meetings and other ICSIC interactions, how will the public members inform the public about ICSIC meetings and the like?

Without a commitment from the community members to share information in both directions, the addition of the public members is meaningless.   As it stood before the BSA was passed, members of the public could, and were encouraged to, meet with ICSIC staff and ICSIC member staff about issues of concern.   There always has been public input, perhaps just not the way some wanted.

Of greater concern to me than community input is the fact that there are neither recent "next steps" documents available online nor are all the sessions viewable.   I know from talking with ICSIC and DME staffers that work -- good work -- is going on.   It's just not apparent looking at the Web site.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reprogrammings as budget transparency

On January 12, the council's Committee of the Whole held a public hearing on B18-559, "The Reprogramming Policy Reform Act of 2009."   According to the bill and Vince Gray, Council Chair, in his opening statement, the legislation seeks to reform the way reprogrammings and intra-District transfers are processed, reported to the City Council, and reported to the public in subsequent budgets.

Three witnesses testified at the hearing:

If you missed the hearing, you can watch it here.

State of the Union and DC evening meetings

This just in from Politico:   President Obama plans to deliver the State of the Union address on January 27.   That evening is one to avoid for evening meetings.

Committee on Human Services FYs 2009/2010 oversight hearing sked

The council's Committee on Human Services has announced their FYs 2009/2010 oversight hearing schedule:
  • Department of Human Services:   February 17, 10:00 am, JAWB Council Chamber
  • Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services:   February 22, 10:00 am, JAWB Room 412
  • Children and Youth Investment Fund:   March 4, 10:00 am, JAWB Room 412
  • Department of Disability Services:   March 11, 9:00 am, JAWB Council Chamber
  • Child and Family Services Agency:   March 11, Noon, JAWB Council Chamber

To sign up to testify or for more information, contact Vivian McCarter, Committee on Human Services, 724-8191, vmccarter (at) dccouncil (dot) us.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Board of Elections and Ethics proposed rule changes

A number of proposed changes were noticed in the January 15 DCR:
  • "Campaign Finance Operations"
  • "Lobbying"
  • "Financial Disclosure"
  • "Conflict of Interest and Use of Government Resources for Campaign-Related Purposes"
  • "Campaign Finance Recordkeeping"
  • "Investigations and Hearings"

Comments are due in writing within 30 days of publication in the Register.   Details are in each notice.

Recent City Council action from the January 15 DCR

The latest edition of the DC Register notices a number of City Council actions including:
  • B18-610, “Omnibus Procurement Reform Amendment Act of 2010”:   This legislation was co-introduced on January 5 by CMs Cheh, Alexander, Barry, KBrown, Catania, Evans, Graham, MBrown, Mendelson, Thomas, Wells, and Gray.   It was co-sponsored by CM Bowser.   The purpose of the bill is to reform procurement practices in the city by strengthening internal controls and improving staff training.
  • B18-337, “Procurement Efficiency Act of 2009”:   The Committee on Government Operations and the Environment (CM Cheh, Ward 3, chair) has rescheduled this hearing from January 11 to January 22 at 12:30 pm in the JAWB.   Details about the hearing, including how to register to testify, is in the hearing notice.
  • B18-592, “District Facility Plan Amendment Act of 2009”:   The Committee on Government Operations and the Environment (CM Cheh, Ward 3, chair) has rescheduled this hearing to January 26 at 10:30 am in the JAWB.   Details about the hearing, including how to register to testify, is in the hearing notice.
  • B18-547, “Adoption Reform Amendment Act of 2009”:   The Committee on Human Services (CM Wells, Ward 6, chair) is holding this public hearing on February 10 at 1:00 pm in the Council Chamber of JAWB.   Details about the hearing, including how to register to testify, is in the hearing notice.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cool economic development tool also useful to advocates and wonks

The retail search site, a partnership of the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) and the Washington Economic Development Partnership (WDCEP), is designed as a portal for retailers to to search more than 280 retail opportunities.

What is awesome, though, is that the data provided is also useful to policy and budget wonks.   Neighborhood profiles include demographics such as age and population, and economic development related data like income and consumer expenditures.   Each profile also includes a map of the area including economic development initiatives.   Think New Communities and Great Streets.   Also included is Metro usage.

Calling all Ward 1 organizations

CM Jim Graham and Strengthening Ward One Together (SWOT DC) are kicking off a meeting to bring providers are residents together to address the economic pressures on individuals, families, and organizations.   The event is January 22 from 9:30 - 11:30 am.   More information about the event on the SWOT DC blog.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jeff Smith, potential council candidate, on Twitter

Thanks to WCP's Mike Debonis (@mikedebonis) for sharing the news that potential candidate for the Ward 1 seat on the City Council Jeff Smith is now on Twitter!   Follow him: @SpeakUpW1.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

DC receives money for energy assistance

The District is receiving $3,386,942 from the US Department of Health and Human Services to provide energy assistance to residents through the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).   The federal grant was anticipated by the Fenty Administration in the development of the FY 2010 budget.   This federal grant increases funding for this important energy assistance program by 50% -- from an approved FY 2009 budget of $6.6 million to $10 million in FY 2010.   (According to DDOE director George Hawkins testimony in March 2009, online at http://ddoe.dc.gov/ddoe/cwp/view,a,1209,q,499509.asp)

Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on family size and income.   The feds use the federal poverty guideline as the basis for the income limitations.

LIHEAP provides financial assistance to eligible low-income District households for a variety of energy types including gas, electricity, and oil.   The program is now operated by the Department of the Environment; the old Office on Energy was merged into DDOE but is still located in the Reeves Center, 2000 14th St NW, 2nd Floor.

Early Stages Center - will the promise be kept for children with delays?

On Wednesday, January 13, Mayor Fenty will join DC Public Schools staff at the grand opening of the Early Stages Center at the Walker Jones Education Campus (1125 New Jersey Ave NW).   The presser takes place at 10:30 am.

The mayor will be joined by DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Dr. Richard Nyankori, DCPS Deputy Chancellor for Special Education, to announce the grand opening of the center, a free comprehensive diagnostic testing center that evaluates children ages three to five years for developmental delays.

Early Stages represents a new approach to serving young children who may have delays.   The District struggled for years serving this population.   On May 1, 2005, for example, the Department of Human Services (DHS) issued a press release announcing the creation of the “DC Child Find” network, a formal partnership between DHS and DC Public Schools.   Prior to the creation of this official agreement between the two agencies, children literally were lost in what should have been a smooth transition from DHS’s Early Intervention Program (EIP) in the Office of Early Childhood Development to DCPS when they aged out of the DHS program at age 3.   According to the 2005 press release,

DCPS is responsible for the identification and education of all eligible students with disabilities in the District beginning at age three through 21 years of age. In compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, DCPS is required to identify all children at risk of requiring special education and to ensure the transition of eligible children from the DHS Early Intervention Program to DCPS.

The promise of Child Find was never realized.   Hopefully, Early Stages will meet the needs of children and parents.

Children referred to the center will receive a full evaluation and treatment or services for a diagnosed delay.   Services are available to all families living in the District regardless of where the child goes to school -- DCPS, a charter school, a private school, or is home schooled.

Parents and professionals can contact Early Stages by calling 698-8037 or emailing info (at) earlystagesdc (dot) org.   Early Stages Center is located on the 4th floor of the Walker Jones Education Campus at 1125 New Jersey Ave NW.   Free parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis.   The center is on the 96 Metro Bus line and is a short walk from Mt. Vernon Square/Convention Center (green and yellow lines) or Union Station (red line) metro stations.

Ram Uppuluri moves to CYITC

Ram Uppuluri, once a staffer with CM Tommy Wells (Ward 6), is now Vice President Partnerships and Policy at the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp. (Trust, CYITC).

In this newly created position, Ram will provide strategic leadership in the planning, direction, and execution of effective partnerships and programs to promote positive outcomes for District children and youth, particularly in the areas of youth violence prevention and workforce development.   Further, the VP will develop expertise on local and national efforts, best and promising practices, lessons learned and innovations, and work to enhance the District’s services, supports and opportunities for at-promise youth.   More about Ram's responsibilities are in the job description.

Contact Ram by emailing ruppuluri (at) cyitc (dot) org or calling 347-4441.

Schindler in as interim director of DYRS

On January 12, Mayor Fenty announced the appointment of Marc Schindler as interim director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS).   This appointment comes on the heels of the departure of Vinny Schiraldi, former director, to New York.

The mayor is conducting a search for a permanent director of this cabinet-level agency.

Details about Schindler's background are in the press release.

Monday, January 11, 2010

DOH/NIH partnership announcement, January 12

Join Mayor Fenty, the Department of Health, and NIH on Tuesday, January 12 at 10:45 am at Family & Medical Counseling Service, Inc. (2041 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, 3rd floor) for a DOH/NIH partnership announcement.

More news from nonprofits

Some news from nonprofits and former DC colleagues:
  • Karen Minatelli is now Managing Attorney at Northern Virginia Office Legal Aid Justice Center.   Her email is Karen (at) justice4all (dot) org.   Karen once worked at DC Employment Justice Center.   Good luck Karen!
  • Ebonee Stevenson is Empower DC's education organizer.   Contact her at Ebonee (at) empowerdc (dot) org or 234-9119.
  • Ben Parisi is Empower DC's Child Care for All Campaign organizer.   Contact him at Ben (at) empowerdc (dot) org or 234-9119.
  • Judy Conti from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) reports that the organization has moved to:   1620 Eye St NW, Suite 210; WDC 20006.   Ways to reach Judy, (202) 887-8202 x 354, (202) 785-8949 (fax), or jconti (at) nelp (dot) org (her email is staying the same).

Council hearings noticed in 1/8/10 DCR:

Hearings noticed include:
  • Library Capital Contracts and Community Engagement Activities public oversight hearing:   The Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation (CM Thomas, Ward 5, chair) is holding this oversight hearing on January 11 at 2:00 pm in Room 123 of the JAWB.   The public is encouraged to testify; details on page 498 of the hearing notice.
  • The Performance of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration public oversight roundtable:   The Committee on Health is having this roundtable on January 15 at 2:00 pm in the Council Chamber in the JAWB.   Only invited witnesses may testify at the roundtable but the public is encouraged to submit written testimony.   More information about the hearing is on page 499 of the hearing notice.
  • The Performance of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration public oversight roundtable:   The Committee on Health is having this roundtable on January 22 at 2:00 pm in Room 123 in the JAWB.   Only invited witnesses may testify at the roundtable but the public is encouraged to submit written testimony.   More information about the hearing is on page 500 of the hearing notice.
  • B18-250, “Senior Housing Modernization Grant Fund Act of 2009”:   The Committee on Economic Development (CM KBrown, At-large, chair) is holding a public hearing on January 26 at 1:00 pm in Room 412 of the JAWB.

    The purpose of B18-250 is

    To establish a Senior Citizens Housing Modernization Grant Fund (“Fund”) and to authorize the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development to make grants from the Fund to qualified senior citizens who reside in an area affected by a planned unit development (“PUD”) for repairs and improvements to their single family dwellings.

    Details about the hearing, including how to register to testify, are on page 494 of the hearing notice.

  • B14-494, “Council Cable Autonomy and Control Amendment Act of 2010”:   The Committee of the Whole (Council Chair Gray, At-large, chair) is holding a public hearing on January 26 at 3:00 pm in the JAWB Council Chamber.

    The purpose of the bill is

    To amend the Cable Television Reform Act of 2002 to provide that the public access channels allocated to the Council shall be under the exclusive control of the Council.

    Details about the hearing, including how to register to testify, are on page 497 of the hearing notice.

  • The Performance of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration public oversight roundtable:   The Committee on Health is having this roundtable on January 29 at 2:00 pm in Room 123 in the JAWB.   Only invited witnesses may testify at the roundtable but the public is encouraged to submit written testimony.   More information about the hearing is on page 501 of the hearing notice.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Signs on public space - final rules published

DDOT issued final rules in the January 8, 2010 edition of the DCR regarding the posting of certain signs on public space.   The final rules effect the length of time signs may be posted as well as the deadline for removal following the event.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mayor Fenty on DCPS graduation rates

Mayor Fenty is scheduled to give remarks on January 8 at 10:30 am at a presser, DCPS Graduation Rates Announcement.   Join the mayor and others at Cardozo Senior High School (1200 Clifton St NW).

Government purchases boys/girls clubs -- annoucement today

Mayor Fenty will give remarks today, January 7, at 12:30 pm on the District Boys and Girls Club purchasing agreement.   Join the mayor and others at the Frank R. Jelleff Branch (3265 S St NW).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A treat to start the year off right

A brief diversion from the work at hand is this amazing eggnog cake recipe.   I have made two cakes in the past two days (no, not all for me) (without the currants).   Gave one away; it was gone in no time.   Good warm and I am presuming good after cooling.   Not recommended for those who have made a resolution to diet - this is so not a diet cake.   I am not an eggnog fan but this cake rocks!

The featured WPC resource of the week is. . .

... brand-spanking new (used) speakers!   If you are a local activist or advocate and you need speakers for a rally or educational event, you can now borrow them from the Washington Peace Center for a sliding scale donation of $25-$100.   For more information about this and other resources, including contact information to borrow the speakers, go the the WPC resource page on the Web site.

Mayor Fenty at Janney groundbreaking, January 6

Mayor Fenty will deliver remarks today, January 6, at 10:30 am at the Janney Elementary School (4130 Albermarle St NW) groundbreaking.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

All things high school advocacy

Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators (S.H.A.P.P.E.) has a new Web site.   On the site is a bevy of budget analyses, newsletters, testimony, and public education materials related to high schools.

Healthy schools bill now posted on council site

B18-564, "Healthy Schools Act of 2009", is now posted on LIMS on the City Council Web site.

New MPD email list for special liaison units

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has established a new email discussion list for special liaison units.   Units include:   Deaf & Hard of Hearing Unit, Asian Liaison Unit, Latino Liaison Unit, and Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit.   To join, send a blank email to MPD-SLU-subscribe (at) yahoogroups (dot) com; you will be prompted to confirm your membership.

Webinar on farm to school components of healthy schools bill

Learn more about B18-564, "Healthy Schools Act of 2009" on January 12 by participating in this DC Farm to School Healthy Schools Bill Webinar.   Andrea Northrup, Coordinator of the DC Farm to School Network, will lead the webinar scheduled for Noon - 1:00 pm.   The purpose is to get folks up to speed on the legislation introduced last month and discuss some simple ways to support the farm to school components of the bill.

To participate, go to this Web site on the day of the webinar and you will enter your name and email to connect - it's free and easy, and you don't need to download any special software.   You will be connected to a Web site where you will see the slides, listen to Andrea, and ask questions and comment in a live chat.

Questions?   Contact Andrea, (202) 526-5344 x298 or andrea (at) dcfarmtoschool (dot) org.

Remember to take a look at the calendar

Remember there is lots of good stuff -- advocacy events, learning opportunities, networking opps -- listed in the calender at the very end of the blog.   And be sure to send me items to include.

One year anniversary!

Today marks the one year anniversary of this blog.   Thanks to all who read it and especially those who share ideas.

As we move into year two of this experiment in "do people really want to know this wonky stuff?", I encourage you to share your thoughts about information you want shared, etc.   So email away, secambria (at) gmail (dot) com.   Note that not all information is free; if you want real intelligence, that will cost you; I am a consultant, after all!

Open and transparent government workshop

This looks awesome:   Two days in Princeton, NJ talking open government and transparency at "Open Government:   Defining, Designing, and Sustaining Transparency."

Ok, I've just read the agenda and I am on overload.   This is why.   First, there are sessions on defining and sustaining transparency.   Then we move to a lot of technical stuff that revolves around what the academics call "tinkerers."

Seriously, this is an important event -- to learn more about why the planners say that "Despite increasing interest in issues of open government and governmental transparency, the values of 'openness' and 'transparency' have been undertheorized."   And to learn about the kinds of infrastructure needed to support openness and transparency.   Because as much as I support the ideas of openness and transparency, I now understand that the challenges we have advocating this position are more about infrastructure, data collection, data analysis, and the like than they are about willingness to be open.

The event is free and open to the public.   Maybe I will see you there.

Literacy in the news

The latest literacy report getting media play, America’s Most Literate Cities, 2009, reports Washington, DC as the nation’s second most literate city with a population of 250,000 or more.   The rankings are determined by how cities fare on what Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) considers to be “six key indicators of literacy”:   newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources.

According to CCSU President and study author Dr. Jack Miller,

This study attempts to capture one critical index of our nation’s social health. . . .   This set of factors measures people's use of their literacy and thus presents a large-scale portrait of our nation’s cultural vitality.   From this data we can better perceive the extent and quality of the long-term literacy essential to individual economic success, civic participation, and the quality of life in a community and a nation.

This year, Washington, DC comes in behind Seattle, WA but ahead of such cities as Boston, Atlanta, and Denver.   DC’s ranking since the study began in 2005 has ranged from 2 in 2009 to 5 in 2007.

USA Today announced the study’s release on December 21.   The problem with the USA Today report of the America’s Most Literate Cities, 2009 study according to expert Jeff Carter of D.C. Learns is that “nowhere in the story does the writer come out and say we don’t have a literacy problem here in the District, but I think it leaves readers with a mistaken impression.”   At least as far as the District is considered, this study represents only part of the picture.

The other part of the picture is that a significant portion of the city’s population – nearly 20% according to the US Department of Education – has what is known as below basic literacy skills.   This means that these residents have the lowest levels of literacy performance (there are five levels); people at this level can do things like sign a form or add up check and cash amounts on a bank deposit slip.

So while it is terrific that those on the more literate end of the spectrum can be considered highly literate, it is troubling and extremely problematic for the District’s economic, cultural, educational, and social strength and resilience that 20% of our residents face daily challenges.   The National Assessment of Adult Literacy, known as NAAL, defines literacy as reading for a purpose, purposes that are common in daily living.   More on this from Mark Schneider, Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics, upon the release of the 2003 NAAL results:

Our definition of literacy focuses on reading for a purpose.   It emphasizes using printed and written information to function in society and to achieve one's goals and potential.   This is somewhat different from a school-based definition of literacy, which focuses on learning to read and reading to learn.   NAAL measures three types of literacy using materials that are part of daily life:
  • Prose reading materials are arranged in sentences and paragraphs.   Examples include the newspaper articles some of you will write on this report.
  • Documents are not organized in sentences. Documents include such things as bills, maps, bus schedules, and prescription labels.
  • Quantitative activities require simple calculations using numbers found in written materials such as tax forms or checking statements you receive from your bank.

Combining the nationwide NAAL results with the educational attainment of DC residents illustrated by the US Census Bureau, we get a much better picture of literacy and poor literacy in the District of Columbia.

The Census Bureau’s 2006-2008 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates for Selected Social Characteristics in the United States: 2006-2008 reports that 142,147 or 35%, of the 401,222 residents 25 years old or older had a high school diploma or equivalency or less.   The remaining 65% of the population (259,057) of residents 25 years old or older had some college education or more.   The breakdown of less well educated residents by attainment level is:

  • 22,948 have less than a 9th grade education
  • 36,179 have completed a grade in high school (grades 9 – 12) but do not have a diploma
  • 83,044 are high school graduates (this includes equivalency)

The bottom line is that the NAAL, Census educational attainment data and CCSU study can fairly easily co-exist.   What we do with the information will determine the kind of city we truly are.   So yes, let’s celebrate success and achievement.   But now that the more complete story is being told by D.C. Learns and others, the community can now make literacy for the least literate a priority in 2010.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Leo Alexander has a new Web site

I've just been notified that Leo Alexander, candidate for mayor, has a new Web site:   www.LeoAlexanderForMayor.com.

DDRA January 11 hearing cancelled

This just in from the DDRA Distribution List, managed by T.J. Sutcliffe at the Arc (tjsutcliffe (at) arcdc (dot) net, 202-636-2963):
Update Jan. 4, 2010:   DDRA Hearing Cancelled
We’ve just learned that the Committee on Human Services (Chair: Tommy Wells, Ward 6) has cancelled the public hearing on the Developmental Disabilities Reform Act (DDRA), previously scheduled for next Monday, January 11th.   We’ll keep everyone posted on a new date and time.   Please share this with anyone who may be interested.
As always, be sure to visit the DDRA Blog at http://www.dc-ddleg.blogspot.com for updated fact sheets & additional information.

City Council hearings/roundtables

Three public hearings coming up at the City Council in January:
  • The Performance of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration public oversight roundtable:   The Committee on Health is having this roundtable on January 8, 2010 at 2:00 pm in the Council Chamber in the JAWB.   Only invited witnesses may testify at the roundtable but the public is encouraged to submit written testimony.   More information about the hearing is in the hearing notice.
  • B18-559, “Reprogramming Policy Reform Act of 2009” public hearing:   The Committee of the Whole is having this public hearing on January 12, 2010 at 11:30 am in the Council Chamber.

    The bill was introduced by all members of the council.   Details about testifying at the hearing are in the hearing notice.

  • B18-592, “District Facility Plan Amendment Act of 2009”, public hearing:   The Committee on Government Ops and the Environment is holding this public hearing on January 14 at 11:00 am in Room 412 of the JAWB.   Details about the hearing, including how to register to testify, are in the hearing notice.

    The purpose of the bill is to require the mayor to prepare a District Facilities Plan to address the sale of real estate no longer required for public purposes

COW youth-only hearing, January 9

The next youth-only hearing before the City Council's Committee of the Whole is being held on January 9, 2010 at 10:00 am in the Council Chamber at the JAWB.   Details about the hearing, including how to register to testify, are in the hearing notice.