What Could Universal Childhood Education Mean for the Jewish Community?
PITTSBURGH — As politicians debate funding for universal early childhood education (ECE), the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh invites Jewish ECE planners to discuss the implications of possible funding scenarios. The discussion — a virtual event called Universal Early Childhood Education: What Could This Mean for Our Jewish Community? — will be Thursday, March 10, 7-8:30 p.m. ECE professionals Cara Ciminillo and Anna Hartman will share visions of universal ECE in Jewish Pittsburgh.
Cara Ciminillo, executive director of Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Trying Together, has international experience as an advocate for children and ECE. In Pittsburgh, in a partnership with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, she supported licensed childcare providers across the county. Ciminillo is a founding partner of Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, a group of organizations dedicated to advancing the importance of children’s play.
Anna Hartman, director of early childhood excellence at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, also directs The Paradigm Project, a national network that nurtures emerging leadership in Jewish ECE. Hartman is a 2021 recipient of the Covenant Award, which honors those who have made an impact on Jewish life by advancing innovative educational models.
In the March 10 event, Ciminillo and Hartman will include a period for feedback, in which ECE change agents can voice hopes, concerns and questions about possible ECE funding.
The Build Back Better (BBB) Act (H.R. 5376), in the form that passed the U.S. House in November, included
$400 billion for childcare and early learning, with the total to be distributed nationwide over six years. BBB funded pre-kindergarten programs for all 3- and 4-year-olds, including faith-based programs. Now, in the Senate, BBB as a whole may have no future. However, some experts say that universal ECE has bipartisan support and could pass, in some form, as a standalone measure.
Programs affiliated with the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh serve more than 800 children in 11 programs: 2 programs at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, in Squirrel Hill and the South Hills, respectively; one program in each of the three Jewish day schools; 5 synagogue programs; and one independent program. The Federation’s Jewish Life & Learning Department provides resources for all 11 programs.
For information about the March 10 event, call Carolyn Linder at 412-992-6648 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.