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National Birth Trends Catch Up with Boston: Babies of Color are the Majority

Today’s Washington Post reports that minority babies for the first time outnumber white infants nationally.  Nationally, 50.4% of children under 1 are Hispanic, black, Asian American or in other minority groups.  

Boston’s young children have reflected this trend for quite some time.  Data from the 2010 Census shows that 71.5% of Boston’s 34,741 children birth to five are not white.  29.3% are Hispanic, 29% are African American/Black, 5.7% are Asian and 7.5% are multiracial/other – compared with 28.5% who are white. 

This is in sharp contrast to data on the whole population.  Even though Boston is a majority-minority city, 47% of the population is white, 22.4% is black/African American, 17.5% is Hispanic, 8.9% is Asian and 12.3% are multiracial/other.  

For more on Boston’s demographics, check out the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Census reports.



May 17, 2012 at 5:00 PM 1 comment

Celebrating the Vietnamese New Year in Fields Corner

Fields Corner Children Thrive celebrated the start of the Year of the Dragon on Saturday, January 21st.

Over 60 Vietnamese families with young children with Autism joined Mayor Thomas M. Menino at Dorchester House Multi-Service Center for games, arts and crafts, a traditional Dragon Dance, and the chance to receive “lixi”, a small gift of money meant to bring good luck in the new year.

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Fields Corner Children Thrive sponsors a monthly support group for Vietnamese families with children with Autism.  For more information, contact Marika Michelangelo at Dorchester House.

Photos courtesy of Oriole Bui.

February 9, 2012 at 2:05 PM Leave a comment

Economic Success Starts Early

A new report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, the State of Working Massachusetts 2011, shows that our state’s economy is strong, despite recent years of recession, with lower unemployment rates, higher median wages, and lower poverty rates than the national average.

What’s the biggest factor in our state’s success relative to the nation?  A well-educated workforce.

  • Massachusetts has the largest percentage of workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher of any state in the country, at 43.9%  (slide 4 in the link above).
  • Higher education leads to better jobs with higher salaries.  Wages for workers with higher education levels, particularly a bachelor’s degree or higher, have grown faster than wages of workers with lower educational attainment (slide 5).
  • Education also offers some protection against unemployment, even in a poor overall economy.  In 2010, Massachusetts workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher had significantly lower rates of unemployment than those with less education (slide 6).

It’s good news – but there’s a catch: the gap between high and low wage workers is growing. 

Over the last 30 years, the gap in hourly wages for low and high income workers has increased by nearly $10.  At the same time, low income household income hasn’t risen very much, and the real value (taking into account inflation) of the minimum wage has decreased.

What does this mean for kids? 

Not surprisingly, even though Massachusetts ranks 9th in the country for states with the lowest poverty rates, poverty among children is rising.  In 2010, 14.3% of all children in the state (roughly 200,000 children) lived below the poverty line – up from 13.1% in 2009.

What should we do? 

The data shows that higher education equals higher income.  We need to start early, giving all kids, particularly those facing economic and other challenges, access to high quality early education and other support services right from the start.  High quality early education and care in the early years is crucial to ensuring that kids reach their full potential in the future, providing support over the first few years of life when the brain is forming a strong foundation for all future learning and skill development.

What can you do?

Volunteer – There are countless opportunities to make a difference in the lives of young kids in your community.  Check out Jumpstart and Horizons for Homeless Children or your local YMCA.

Advocate – Young children need you to speak out on their behalf.  Check out Early Education for All/Strategies for Children and reach out to your local government officials to let them know early education is important to you

Be a Teacher – Young children learn everywhere.  Check out Talk Read Play to learn about activities you can do at home and in the community to support children’s learning.

January 12, 2012 at 4:18 PM Leave a comment

5 Tips for a Stress Free School Registration!

Registration for the 2012-2013 academic year has officially begun! 

If you know someone with a child who will be 3, 4, or 5 years old by September 1, 2012 that would like to enroll their child in Kindergarten for the upcoming school year, encourage them to register by February 3, 2012 to for the best chance of being assigned to a school of their choice.

With the recent changes to the residency requirements, the registration process is now easier than ever.  Here are a few tips to keeping the process stress free:

1.  To decrease your wait time, pre-register online at

2.  Make sure to bring all the necessary, up-to-date documents.  For a list of required documents and answers to commonly asked questions, visit:  Keep in mind that…

  • Deeds may be downloaded from
  • For online bill payment, a print out of the statement may also be acceptable if it includes the name, home address and date.
  • The BPS Landlord Affidavit Form is available at any Family Resource Center or online.

3.  Plan ahead! Learn about your school options ahead of time by visiting:

4.  If you are bringing young children with you, bring snacks and activities so that they don’t become restless.

5.  Use the off business hours to your advantage. The Family Resource Centers are now open till 7pm on Wednesdays and the East Zone FRC will also be open from 9am-1om on Saturday, January 21st and Saturday, January 28th.

January 5, 2012 at 3:57 PM Leave a comment

What about a “Bottom Up” Standards Approach?

Sam Meisels’ guest post on The Answer Sheet in yesterday’s Washington Post raises great points about the challenges for early childhood in the Common Core Standards.  For one, the standards start when more than half of “early childhood” (birth through 3rd grade) is over – in kindergarten.  They only cover English Language Arts and math, with science coming soon.  And they can easily be transformed from benchmarks of where students should be into prerequisites and requirements for student learning and achievement, unnecessarily setting many children up for failure.

At the top of the challenges for me is Meisels’ point that the standards take a “top down” approach, starting out with expectations in college and career and moving downwards by age and grade.  Where do you think they started to run out of room?  You guessed it, the end – or the beginning for us early childhood folks – leaving some important things out and putting some other ones in.

It was this point in Meisels’ piece that got me thinking: What would a “bottom up” approach to the Common Core Standards look like?

If we’re starting at the bottom, we’d start at the beginning right?  So our standards would start at birth, or maybe even pre-natally?  Would that set a standard of adequate, or maybe even better-than-adequate pre-natal care?  What about a standard of a nurturing caregiver right from the start to promote healthy social emotional development?

It’s pretty hard to ignore executive functioning when you are thinking about toddlers and preschoolers to help them learn self-control and other essential self regulation skills.  So, our standards would build from those areas into more complex skills like reading and writing.  After all, you have to be able to sit still and focus long enough to learn to read and write.

Which brings me to physical and motor development.  I guess our standards would need to include those areas too so that we’re making sure kids are healthy and active.

I could go on, but for me the point is clear:  Providing kids with the support and skills they need from the beginning goes much further in helping them reach their fullest potential than working backwards.

What would your “bottom up” standards include?

November 30, 2011 at 9:31 AM Leave a comment

“Llama, llama red pajama reads a story with his mama.”

Today, as children across the country hear these words as part of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record campaign, new data shows that the message to read to kids is making a difference in how often families are reading together.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Selected Indicators of Child Well-Being (A Child’s Day): 2009 show that 53% of 1 and 2 year olds were read to by a family member at least 7 or more times a week.  The same is true for 49% of 3 to 5 year olds.  The numbers hold up well even in very low income families (those below the poverty line), where 45% of 1 and 2 year olds and 40% of 3 to 5 year olds are read to frequently.

While this is still only about half of children being read to regularly by a family member, it’s a huge jump since 1998 when the data was last collected – especially for low income kids.  Between 1998 and 2009, the percentage of low income children being read to 7 or more times a week rose 37%.

Other data from the same survey paint an even fuller picture of family life:

  • 73% of children under 6 were talked to or played with for 5 minutes or more just for fun many times per day in 2009, compared with just under 70% in 1998
  • 74% of young children were praised by a parent many times a day in 2009, versus 68% in 1998
  • Almost 81% of children under 6 had dinner with their parent every day during typical week last month in 2009, compared with 78% in 1998

Reading more, talking more and playing more – sound familiar?  Like the Talk, Read, Play campaign?

While the data suggests that we still have a way to go, it’s encouraging to see that our work with families is having an impact.

Now get back to reading.

October 6, 2011 at 2:40 PM Leave a comment

Thrive in 5 Executive Director Search

Thrive in 5 seeks to hire a strategic leader, skilled collaborator and proven resource developer to be our next Executive Director.  Click to find out more: Thrive in 5 Executive Director Position Announcement.  Please feel free to pass this position announcement along to your networks!

July 14, 2011 at 1:42 PM Leave a comment

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