Bill Expands High School Computer Science Ed Access: Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) praised the legislature’s passage of a bill intended to expand access to quality computer science courses with the goal of workforce development. As a result, the state will provide at least one computer-coding course at all public and charter high schools. Additionally, a task force will recommend academic standards for all computer science courses and develop career pathways for students interested in computer science and technology.
$3.5M Goes to Broaden Access to Pre-K Classes: Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) announces that over $3.5 million in state funding is awarded to 14 towns and cities across Connecticut that will expand the availability of high-quality preschool to 416 additional children. The Smart Start initiative provides funding for capital improvements to help communities offer pre-K programs. Eligible pre-K programs will need to meet requirements such as a minimum length of school-day and school-year programming, accreditation, small classroom sizes, and priority access to low-income children or children with special needs. Up to $100 million in bonding for capital improvements will be available over a 10-year period, with a maximum of $10 million per year. Preschool classroom funding will begin in FY 2016 with $100 million in operating funding available over a ten-year period (maximum $10 million per year) from the Tobacco Settlement Fund.
State Combats Infant Mortality: Gov. Mike Pence (R) releases a study on combating infant mortality. The study found that risk factors for infant mortality were influenced by inadequate prenatal care and the mother’s age and socioeconomic status. The report found that populations at high risk for infant deaths accounted for 1.6% of all births as well as nearly 50% of infant deaths. The results have informed a new public information campaign, which will focus on encouraging women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to learn more about prenatal care and how to ensure a healthy pregnancy and first year of life for infants.
Governor Establishes Competency-Based HS Apprenticeship Program: Gov. Steve Beshear (D) launches a competency-based apprenticeship program. High school students will be able to receive credit for up to half their required apprenticeship hours before graduating based on competency gained through career and technical education classes. The program comes on the heels of a trip the governor took to an international automotive conference in Germany where he promoted the state’s automotive industry and workforce system.
Nearly $22M to Enlarge Dental Access for Low-Income Children: Gov. Rick Snyder (R) introduces a proposal to expand a dental program currently providing essential care to more than 500,000 low-income children. In his recent budget proposal, the governor provided for an expansion to cover an additional 210,000 children up to age 8 in three counties. Michigan’s Healthy Kids dental program was created in 2000 in partnership with a large dental provider. Expanding Healthy Kids Dental will cost $21.8 million, with two-thirds of the cost borne by the federal government through matching funding. The cost to the state will be about $7 million.
$2.8M Goes for Workforce Development Program for Low-Income Youth: Gov. Jay Nixon (D) endorses the $2.8 million expansion of a workforce development program for low-income youth. The program will provide youth with summer jobs in industries such as information technology, financial services, health care and bioscience. Additionally, those youth will receive career-related training on skills such as time management, effective communication, and problem solving. The program intends to train 1,500 youth ages 16 to 24. Youth will be enrolled in accelerated work-readiness training at area career centers where they will learn soft skills and be matched with a business operating in a field of their interest. The program will pay wages up to $8 an hour. Administered by the state Division of Workforce Development and the local Workforce Investment Board, the Governor’s Office of Community Engagement will oversee the program.
$8.1M to Fight Youth Prescription Drug Abuse: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) launches new efforts to fight drug abuse by expanding programs that focus on reducing heroin and prescription drug abuse among youth. The initiative is the result of an $8.1 million grant from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention at HHS to expand efforts in high-need communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 15,000 people die every year from prescription painkiller overdoses. The additional funding specifically will focus on reducing heroin and prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths among individuals age 12-25 and will expand public awareness campaigns to include the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse.
Herbert Signs Elementary Arts Education Bill: Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signs a bill to develop the social, emotional, and academic skills of elementary students through arts education. The Elementary Arts Learning program acts to integrate arts into core subject areas such as math and English. The program provides additional flexibility to higher education arts programs and when hiring local arts agency educators. The new law provides $10,000 grants to schools that hire new school arts specialist, which can be used to also purchase supplies and equipment.
Shumlin Ups Support for School Nutrition: Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) highlights a program to expand access to free meals for K-12 students. The program provides free meals to all students at schools where at least 40% of students qualify for nutrition assistance. The program is designed to streamline the application process for free meals and reduce stigma associated with the program. In 2013, the legislature eliminated the reduced-price category for school lunch in all schools, allowing all students eligible for free or reduced price meals to get lunch for free. Since this bill took effect, food service directors have reported a marked increase in school meal participation,
Inslee Addresses Teen E-Cigarette Use: Gov. Jay Inslee (D) touts legislation that seeks to reduce adolescent use of e-cigarettes. The governor cited a 2014 Healthy Youth survey showing that 18% of high school sophomores and 23% of seniors had used e-cigarettes in the past month. The new legislation would require retailers to become licensed to sell vaping products, prohibit Internet sales, ensure child-safe packaging, and restrict marketing and sales activities targeted at youth.