Number of Preemies Plummet Worldwide During COVID-19

Number of Preemies Plummet Worldwide During COVID-19

About one in 10 U.S. babies is born early (before 37 weeks of gestation). Doctors in the U.S. and other countries have noticed a dramatic drop in the number of premature babies during the COVID-19 lockdown. Doctors have theorized the reasons could be more rest, less air pollution, and fewer exposures to illness during social isolation. The New York Times reports that doctors are hopeful further research into what was different during locked down might help doctors, scientists and parents-to-be understand the causes of premature birth and ways to prevent it.

A great report from ACS client PRE4CLE

Child care is the backbone of our economy, but the industry is on the brink of collapse without serious federal intervention. Over the coming days, the U.S. Senate will be finalizing the next COVID-19 recovery package, and there’s a chance relief for child care will not be included! PRE4CLE is urging everyone to take action.

Spring 2020 Newsletter: Electoral Advocacy & Opportunity in the Age of COVID-19

The age of COVID-19 has pushed many public officials, community leaders, government, and philanthropy just to name a few, to think beyond the traditional bounds of service to others—to find more creative and ‘outside the box’ ways in which to elevate the need among many. As we adjust to this new reality emotionally, physically, and psychologically, we must also recognize that we have an opportunity. Read more here.

Lauren Sogor joins ACS as Senior Strategist

Lauren Sogor joins Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC as Senior Strategist

Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC is pleased to announce Lauren Sogor as the firm’s newest Senior Strategist. Ms. Sogor will direct and support government relations and advocacy, policy analysis, strategic communication planning, and strategy development for ACS clients in Ohio and throughout the country.

ACS is fortunate to have a few key partners that help bring their significant expertise and capacity to the ACS team and our clients. These are partners who have worked with us for years on multiple projects around the country. They are an extension of who we are as a firm and share our philosophy and commitment to the clients we serve. Lauren has been one of these key partners for several years, allowing her seamlessly join the ACS team and client work.

“Lauren brings an outstanding skill set to the ACS team,” said ACS Chief Executive Officer Lori McClung. “She is a wealth of knowledge regarding systems thinking, large scale project management and strategic communication especially within the public health, women’s health and healthcare policy sectors.”

Before moving home to Cleveland in 2018, Lauren served as the senior health communications manager at the National Partnership for Women & Families, where she developed and implemented strategies, messages and materials for the organization’s health policy and reproductive health and rights portfolios. Lauren also has provided communications, research and project management support to federal and foundation clients—including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and AARP Foundation—while at federal consulting firms Hager Sharp and ICF International. She has managed multi-stakeholder national public health campaigns to promote maternal and infant health and sexual violence prevention for national nonprofit organizations including Text4baby and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

“Lauren adds even more muscle to the ACS client portfolio with her deep understanding of various public health matters, including being nimble and responsive in a time where our clients need us more than ever,” said ACS President Scarlett Bouder. “As a former strategic partner, her almost immediate integration into our work allows ACS to produce and respond to clients even more efficiently than before.”

“ACS is the rare organization that blends an authentic commitment to positive social change with a laser focus on stellar client support and professionalism, and I could not be prouder to join this incredible team full time,” said Ms. Sogor. “I am grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with our fantastic clients as we find new, creative ways to push for change that improves lives and organizations.”

In addition to her professional experience, Lauren serves on the board of Shaker Early Childhood Enrichment Center, a five-star-rated childcare center. Previously, she served on the board of Collective Action for Safe Spaces, a DC-based nonprofit focused on eradicating public gender-based harassment; taught graduate-level communications at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health; and served as an associate editor for the journal Health Promotion Practice.

Lauren earned her Master in Public Health from the George Washington University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan.  She lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with her husband Bryan, daughter Thea, dogs Hubble and Misha and cat Numbers.

About Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC

ACS is one of the only female and minority owned consulting firms in Ohio, receiving various local, national and international awards for their work. ACS has gained a national reputation for not only its advocacy, communication and strategy development expertise but also a deep understanding of matters within the early childhood, K-12, workforce, Medicaid, and health and human services fields across the non profit, government, and philanthropic sectors. Learn more about ACS at www.advocacyandcommunication.org  

Cassie Gaffney Rejoins ACS as Senior Strategist

 Cassie Gaffney Rejoins Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC as Senior Strategist

Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC is pleased to announce Cassie Gaffney as the firm’s newest Senior Strategist. Ms. Gaffney will direct and support government relations and advocacy, policy analysis, strategic communication planning, and strategy development for ACS clients in Ohio and throughout the country.

Cassie brings more than a decade of experience advocating for organizations at the state and federal levels and building communication, electoral, and community engagement strategies throughout the country. Most recently, she served as the Director of Government Affairs at Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, where she led the agency’s government relations and public policy strategies. In this role, Cassie worked to augment government funding to increase support services for survivors of sexual violence and increase prevention programming. Additionally, her efforts influenced public policies that support survivors and promote prevention, and created strong linkages between the Center and community partners. She supported the effort to establish a City of Cleveland working group to develop legislation that will require employers to provide job-protected leave for employees that are survivors of domestic or sexual violence, and designed and implemented the Center’s advocacy efforts that resulted in securing $250,000 in funding from Cuyahoga County to support survivors of sexual violence. Cassie also supported advocacy efforts that increased funding for Ohio’s rape crisis centers from $1.5M annually to more than $4.5M annually through the state’s operating budget.

“Cassie brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to our firm.” Said Lori McClung, ACS Chief Executive Officer, “From public policy at the local, state, and federal levels, community engagement, and communication strategy, Cassie is not only familiar with our firm and many of our clients, but brings a unique personal and professional perspective that will deepen our national footprint.”

Cassie has extensive experience in the realm of politics, policy, and advocacy at the state and federal levels – and former experience on the ACS team as a Strategist from 2012-2017. During that time, she led the development and implementation of customized policy and advocacy strategies for clients, facilitated strategy and training sessions for diverse organizations and government agencies, and created and implemented strategic communication plans for organizations of all kinds. Before her time at ACS, she managed congressional campaigns and fundraising efforts throughout the state of Ohio, including serving as a spokesperson for various political candidates.

“As was the case when Cassie was first with ACS, her commitment to the issues, clients, and people we serve is clear.” said ACS President Scarlett Bouder. “But what sets her apart from her peers is her deep experience, understanding and substantive outcomes with the type of customized projects and strategies that are the foundation of our firm.”

“It is exciting to rejoin the ACS team and to put my experiences to work with clients throughout the country.” Said Gaffney. “I will be able to continue to advance projects that I helped to build during my original tenure and of course begin new ones in the years to come.”

Cassie earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Muskingum University and completed a Master of Urban Planning, Design, and Development degree program at Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs. While at Cleveland State, she was awarded the Wallace G. Teare Award in recognition of her advocacy for quality housing for low-income and elderly individuals. In November 2015, Cassie received the National Excellence in Advocacy by an Up and Coming Practitioner award at the Professional Women in Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. She currently serves on the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s Grievance Committee. Cassie lives in Lakewood, Ohio with her dog Bennie.

About Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC

ACS is one of the only female and minority owned consulting firms in Ohio, receiving various local, national and international awards for their work. ACS has gained a national reputation for not only its advocacy, communication and strategy development expertise but also a deep understanding of matters within the early childhood, K-12, workforce, Medicaid, and health and human services fields across the non profit, government, and philanthropic sectors. Learn more about ACS at www.advocacyandcommunication.org  

ACS proudly sponsored the sold-out Women of POWER networking reception

The annual Women of POWER event brings together the next generation of women in elected office with women currently elected in the Ohio Legislature and throughout Ohio. The Women of POWER networking reception benefits the Ohio State University University’s Glenn College nonpartisan leadership programs that educate and empower Ohio women ready to run for political office and be leaders in their communities.

ACS proudly sponsored the sold-out Women of POWER event on February 18, 2020. As one of the only female and minority owned consulting firms in Ohio, ACS has gained a national reputation for not only its communication and strategy development expertise but also a deep understanding of policy and advocacy, especially for organizations within the early childhood and K-12 education sectors.

To learn more about how ACS works to elevate the value of strategic communication and advocacy work see our case studies here.

Congress pushes Secretary Azar for national child care assessment

Advocacy & Communication Solutions knows all too well the importance of high-quality early learning and child care.  ACS works closely with several clients on a local, state and national level to help improve the quality of education and care for children. Recently, First Five Years Fund reported on a letter that members of Congress sent to Secretary Azar calling for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to use existing Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) research funds to conduct a national needs assessment of early learning and child care facilities.

The letter highlights the significance of hiqh-quality and developmentally appropriate child care environments in the physical, behavioral, and cognitive development of young children. In 2017, 1.32 million children were in a child care program funded by CCDBG. After extended periods of underinvestment in facilities, however, spaces where these children receive care can deteriorate over time, creating potentially low-quality and even unsafe environments. The letter urges HHS to dedicate a portion of existing federal CCDBG research funding to conduct a national assessment of the condition of child care facilities, including center-based and family child care settings, with a formal report to Congress on the results of the assessment by September 1, 2021.

To learn more about ACS successes with early childhood clients like PRE4CLE and Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services and ACS’ expertise in early childhood education, see the case studies and resources by clicking here.

Issues to Watch in 2020

It is difficult to believe a new decade is upon us. There’s a lot to look forward to and many unknowns on the horizon in 2020, including a presidential election. This year ACS is highlighting three issues with implications for the work ACS—and you—do every day. Keeping tabs on these topics can help your organization recognize and harness opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls. If you’d like to learn more about any of these and other issues, or how your organization might best position itself to address them, please let us know. Continue reading here.

 

 

 

Three ACS Clients Receive Federal Preschool Development Grant Renewals

Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC (ACS) is pleased to share that Michigan, Oregon, and Louisiana were selected to receive Preschool Development Grant – Birth through Five (PDG B-5) renewal grants to implement their early childhood strategic plans that were developed in 2019. To date, twenty states were selected out of 45 applicants.

In addition, Idaho was one of six states to receive a one-year planning grant to complete needs assessments and strategic plans. The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children is a long-term client of ACS and was integral to the success of this grant application.

The goal of $275 million PDG B-5 grant program is to help states: maximize parental choice, improve transitions within early learning and care programs, and improve the overall quality of programs. These goals are intended to improve states’ existing early childhood landscapes by building upon active federal, state, and local early care and learning investments. PDG B-5 was established in 2015 through the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The grant is administrated by the Administration for Children and Families in coordination with the Department of Education. More information about grant awards can be found at the First Five Years Fund.

In 2019, Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC (ACS) assisted several states that received planning grants and provided national technical assistance webinars. ACS looks forward to helping states with their PDG B-5 grants and ensuring all families have access to quality early childhood services.

Enrollment in high-quality preschool is up in Cleveland, Ohio

Advocacy & Communication Solutions client, PRE4CLE, recently celebrated their five-year anniversary and was recognized in The Hechinger Report for their efforts to transform preschool in Cleveland, Ohio.

Five years ago, only 25 percent of Cleveland’s 3 to 5-year-olds were enrolled in high-quality preschool, as defined by the state’s quality rating system. In several neighborhoods, there were virtually no high-quality options. This was having an impact on kindergarten readiness: Less than 20 percent of students entering Cleveland Metropolitan School District were testing as fully prepared to start school.

With a strategy developed in partnership with ACS, a committed and focused group of community leaders across various sectors came together to form PRE4CLE in 2013 Since then the results have been significant:

  • 65% of PRE4CLE students test as approaching/demonstrating readiness for kindergarten
  • 32% increase inthe number of high-quality preschool programs
  • 72% increase in enrollment in high quality programs
  • Increase of over 2,000 children enrolled in all programs (2,857 – 4,903 children)

Here are some of the key strategies PRE4CLE officials say have been the most effective in achieving these results:

  • Helping good centers grow: PRE4CLE was able to rapidly open up new seats by providing grants of up to $30,000 to centers that were already high-quality to establish new classrooms. The grants helped with some of the up-front costs of light renovations, classroom supplies, and teacher salaries for the new classrooms.
  • Helping weaker centers get better: This year, 27 child care centers and 24 family child care homes are working with PRE4CLE to improve.  Program officials have visited each center, determined what is standing in the way of these centers improving in quality, and are providing tailored intensive professional development, technical assistance, and materials as needed. For example, PRE4CLE helped one Cleveland based Childcare Center go from a 2 star rating to a 5 star rating in just 90 days.
  • Educating families: The initiative hosts open houses, sets up tables at community events, and has published advertisements across television, radio and social media outlets to help families learn about available high-quality seats in their neighborhoods. They also developed a scholarship calculator to help families quickly find out which preschool programs they are eligible for based on income and then locate those programs nearby.
  • Educating officials: PRE4CLE has prioritized advocacy at all levels of the government. By doing so, they have secured $57 million in new state funding for local early learning programs in Cleveland.

You can read more about PRE4CLE’s work in their five-year report.

ACS helped draft and launch the plan in 2014 to bring PRE4CLE to life. Since that time, ACS continues to provide advocacy, strategic communication, and media outreach services to PRE4CLE. The investment is already paying dividends, as evidenced in PRE4CLE 2018 annual report.

To learn more about how ACS works with early childhood clients across the country like PRE4CLE and ACS’ expertise in early childhood education, see the case studies by clicking here.