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The Covid testing announcement starts at the 15:27 time mark.

 

Good news on Covid testing was announced yesterday:

“Early education providers in Massachusetts will soon be able to access COVID-19 testing at eight sites through a new state pilot program and will be able to order protective equipment at no cost, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said Monday,” a State House News article published by MassLive.com reports.

As we blogged earlier this month, Governor Charlie Baker had announced a Covid testing plan that only covered K-12. To address this inequity, Strategies for Children and 250 other organizations sent a letter to the governor, which said in part:

“The Commonwealth cannot continue to deny early education and care and after-school staff, students, and families the critical health and safety supports provided to K-12 schools.”

Now, we want to thank the Baker administration for listening and taking action. Continue Reading »

Screenshot: The White House Twitter account

 

Section 1.  Policy. Every student in America deserves a high-quality education in a safe environment. This promise, which was already out of reach for too many, has been further threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. School and higher education administrators, educators, faculty, child care providers, custodians and other staff, and families have gone above and beyond to support children’s and students’ learning and meet their needs during this crisis. Students and teachers alike have found new ways to teach and learn. Many child care providers continue to provide care and learning opportunities to children in homes and centers across the country. However, leadership and support from the Federal Government is needed.Two principles should guide the Federal Government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis with respect to schools, child care providers, Head Start programs, and higher education institutions. First, the health and safety of children, students, educators, families, and communities is paramount. Second, every student in the United States should have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, during and beyond the pandemic.”

 

“Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers,” President Joseph R. Biden Jr., January 21, 2021, Presidential Actions

Screenshot: The White House Twitter account

 

Inaugurated yesterday, President Joe Biden is already busy. Among his most important early efforts is a plan to address the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, a $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal that includes $40 billion for child care.

The need is, as CNBC reports, substantial. “Women are being particularly hard hit, either missing out on promotions, having to leave the workforce, or losing their jobs. One in 4 are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether, according to a September report by Lean In and McKinsey & Co.

“Meanwhile, women accounted for 100% of the jobs lost in December, an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center found.”

Biden’s plans could have a historic impact.

“Not since the New Deal during the Great Depression have we seen such an ambitious economic stimulus plan,” C. Nicole Mason, president and chief executive of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, tells the New York Times. “What that signals to me is that the new administration understands the magnitude of the problem.”

In a press release CLASP (the Center for Law and Social Policy) says of Biden’s proposed stimulus: Continue Reading »

Screenshot: Early educator Camila Pontes 

 

Earlier this month, Governor Charlie Baker overlooked the needs of young children and their families as well early childhood programs when he announced that rapid COVID-19 testing would be available to K-12 schools, but not early education and care and afterschool programs.

Since then, advocates — including Strategies for Children and 250 other organizations – have sent a letter to the governor asking him to reconsider this decision.

Last week, Strategies for Children and Neighborhood Villages also hosted a panel discussion on this pressing issue, “Prioritizing COVID-19 Testing in Early Education and Care.” A recording of this event is posted here.

“… equity demands that public health measures made available to K-12 [schools] also be applied to early education and afterschool as well,” Binal Patel says in her introduction to the panel discussion. Patel is Neighborhood Villages’ Chief Program Officer.

“We know that testing works. It catches positives [test results] before teachers enter classrooms. And it allows us to identify and address potential exposures early.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Pixaby from Pexels

The pandemic has forced schools to offer remote learning.

Now Massachusetts is promoting high-quality remote learning. State educational officials have put together a four-part webinar series focusing on children in preschool-through-third-grade classrooms.

Register today for Part II, which is tonight at 6:00 p.m. This webinar will focus on building strong collaborations between public schools and community-based programs.

Launched last week, the series – sponsored by the Executive Office of Education, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and the Department of Early Education and Care – covers a range of topics. Continue Reading »

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh meets with a young learner. Source: City of Boston Mayor’s Office’s Flickr page.

 

As a state representative and as the mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh has been a champion of children and families.

Now that President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Walsh to be his Secretary of Labor, we want to thank Walsh and recognize his years of support for early education and care.

Back in 2013, when Walsh was a state representative running for mayor, he said:

“If we can allow more families access to daycare, number one that will help. Number two: also work on helping parents — sometimes younger parents — give them the education they need to go forward.”

In 2014, Walsh created an advisory committee to expand preschool access for 4-year-olds, noting:

“Pre-kindergarten programs ensure that all students start kindergarten ready to learn… Rather than spend time on remediation in education, we are investing in our youngest students to lay the groundwork for their long-term success and the long-term prosperity of Boston.”

In 2019, Walsh invested $15 million in high-quality pre-K programs. He also launched a child care survey. Links to other city initiatives are available here. Continue Reading »

Photo: Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

 

Please ask Governor Charlie Baker for equity in COVID-19 testing. And check out a panel discussion on testing being held this afternoon. It’s organized by Neighborhood Villages and co-sponsored by Strategies for Children.

Last week, the governor announced that COVID-19 pooled testing would be made available to the state’s schools and school districts, building on earlier testing.

“This new pooled testing resource that we’re going to be providing going forward will give districts the ability to bring more students back into the classroom,” the governor said, according to WBUR.

Unfortunately, this announcement leaves out early education and out-of-school time providers, even though these organizations have been providing essential care for more than 100,000 children.

To address this inequity, Strategies for Children and 250 other organizations sent a letter to the governor, writing in part: Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

“We recommit ourselves to achieving racial equity in early childhood and school-age programs through advocacy, action, and policy change. Together we will stand up, speak out, and work to dismantle the historical systems of racism and inequity.”

These are the last two lines in our Collective Statement on Racial Justice that over thirty organizations signed on to in June 2020.

As we reflect on the horrific events this week – a violent assault on our democracy – we must redouble our efforts to work for the change we want to see in local communities, in Massachusetts, and across our country. 

NAEYC has resources on trauma, stress, and violence for early childhood educators working to support children in many different settings along with the guidance in NAEYC’s Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education position statement to support your conversations with them, as well as families and colleagues. If you need more resources or would like to sign your organization on to our Collective Statement, email us.

Despite the trauma of this week, democracy continues. Continue Reading »

Sarah Mills

How do you go from being a preschool teacher to working as a legislative aide in the Massachusetts State House? 

For Sarah Mills, it’s all about loving the work of interacting with young children. 

In elementary and middle school, Mills enjoyed helping out with infants and toddlers who were enrolled in her public school’s preschool program. 

As a Syracuse University college student, Mills got a work-study job at her campus’ early education center. 

And when she came to Boston to attend graduate school at Simmons University, she needed to work full-time, so she found a job at KinderCare in downtown Boston where she spent half her time working with infants and half her time working in the afterschool program. 

“When I was younger, I just loved kids; they were so much fun to hang out with,” Mills recalls. “It’s really exciting being with kids who are ages zero to five because you get to watch them go through so many significant milestones, whether it’s their first steps or their first words. Being with kids at this age is truly joyful.” 

“Another wonderful thing is that you get to know the families. I had a lot of families with first-time babies, and so I had the responsibility of helping to educate them and helping them to feel comfortable, because it’s scary to drop your child off for the first time with people you’ve just met. And I was working before the paid family leave law. So I saw parents who had no choice but to bring children who were six weeks or 12 weeks old to our program.”  Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Extending from Tuesday’s deadline to the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the 2019-2020 state legislative session has come to a close. Wednesday also saw the beginning of the first day of the 2021-2022 legislative session, as legislators were sworn into office.

Where does the final FY21 state budget stand? This budget includes much-needed investments in the child care sector, to help mitigate the ongoing effects of the pandemic. The FY21 state budget includes a $165 million (25 percent) increase for early education and care over FY20 spending amounts.

Governor Baker had signed the budget into law on December 11, making several vetoes including $16.5 million in vetoes to early education and care line items. However, by Monday, the Legislature had voted to override all of the early education vetoes.

Here’s a recap of what the final FY21 budget for early education and care: Continue Reading »

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