There are three questions that drive the Black Child Development Institute’s-Milwaukee (BCI-Milwaukee) public policy agenda:
1. Is this good for Black children and families?
2. If yes, how can we support it?
3. If not, how can we make it better?
The answers to these questions help us achieve our mission of improving and advancing the quality of life for Black children and families in the city of Milwaukee. As we collaborate with other agencies and policy makers, we have chosen to focus on the particular strengths and needs of Black children and families in the context of a shared goal: ensuring that our children are reading proficiently by the end of 3rd grade. According to the Children’s Reading Foundation, reading is the most crucial academic skill because it is the foundation for learning. Through third grade children are learning to read; after third grade students read to learn. But only one-in-three students read proficiently by that point.
BCDI-Milwaukee has chosen to adopt this objective in response to data demonstrating both the critical nature of this educational benchmark. In 2015, roughly 2 out of 3 fourth graders nationwide failed to score proficient in reading. With 82 percent of African-American fourth-graders reading below proficiency levels.
This goal leads us to focus on each of the years from birth through age eight, which together provide the foundation for all subsequent learning and development.
BCDI-Milwaukee has identified three priority areas, for which we engage in a range of program, policy and advocacy activities at the state and local levels:
Empowering Parents, Engaging Communities
Improving Childcare and Teacher Quality
Ensuring Funding and Resource Equity
To successfully advance these priorities, BCDI-Milwaukee is committed to leadership development that builds a stronger, more diverse network to help our leaders and elected officials make positive, supportive, and equitable funding and policy decisions that affect Black children and families in Milwaukee.
Our focus is on improving outcomes for African American children through advocacy in the areas of health, parenting, literacy, and early childhood education because they are all an integral part in improving literacy skills. Although we don’t participate in direct service activities, we want to impact direct service through policy.
Working collaboratively with these organizations will help BCDI-Milwaukee to assist in informing policy around the work that we do and the families that we work with.