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“ ‘This is a critical component to our success,’ Whitmer said. ‘Data shows that child care is the biggest single monthly expense for lower income working families with kids. So right now, we’ve got an opportunity in front of us, an opportunity to make an historic, long-term investment in child care.’ ”

“Lawmakers in the Michigan Legislature from both parties have been receptive to Whitmer’s child care proposal, with House Appropriations Chair Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, saying in a statement earlier this week ‘I am confident we will find common ground to move forward and make a real difference helping Michigan families meet their child care needs.’ ”

“Whitmer pushes plans for back to work incentive, increased child care access in Grand Rapids,” by Arpan Lobo, the Holland Sentinel, June 16, 2021

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Screenshot: New America

“Providers need predictable, stable, and adequate funding,” New America says in a new policy brief.

Instead of rebuilding the old system of funding child care slots for low income children based on children’s daily attendance, states should, as the brief’s title says, “Make Child Care More Stable: Pay by Enrollment.”

Now is the time to act because Congress has invested $50 billion in Covid relief funds for child care.

As the brief explains, the attendance-based subsidy system has two glaring flaws. Subsidies often don’t cover the cost of providing child care, and they often don’t provide enough financial help to families.

“In most states, many providers serving children eligible for subsidies are paid several weeks after services are rendered and the amount can vary based on individual child attendance and reimbursement rates, even though provider costs are not determined by how many days a child is present. This monthly variation makes it difficult to make informed decisions around budgeting, staffing, and enrollment.”

This “perpetual underfunding” and “fragmentation in delivery” result in “uneven quality and access to services” that “places financial burdens on families, and perpetuates inadequate wages for the ECE workforce.”

The national nonprofit Child Care Aware of America concurs. In a blog, Child Care Aware notes:

Continue Reading »

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Attorney General Maura Healey

Earlier this month, we were excited to welcome Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to Strategies for Children’s 9:30 call, our daily briefing for members of the early education and care field.

Healey, a longtime advocate of early education, was joined by Angela Brooks, the director of Healey’s Children’s Justice Unit.

Healey’s story:

Responding to the question of how she became attorney general, Healey said she didn’t grow up wanting to be a politician. In fact, after college, she was a professional basketball player in Europe. When she returned to Massachusetts, she enrolled in Northeastern University School of Law, and went on to work for the Boston law firm Wilmer Hale. She the joined the Attorney General’s office as chief of the Civil Rights Division. And in 2014, she was elected attorney general.

One insight from her time abroad:

“I remember living in Europe. It was amazing to me, the recognition of the role of child care providers, early education providers, and the primacy of that from day one.”

Fighting for child care during a global pandemic:

When the pandemic first hit, Healey and her office took on unexpected but needed roles, trying to secure personal protective equipment for first responders and searching out hotels for families in which one family member had COVID-19.

Last summer, Healey led “a coalition of 22 attorneys general urging the United States Senate to provide robust financial support [$50 billion] for childcare providers” in a federal stimulus bill.

The letter said in part: Continue Reading »

“Child-care workers have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. But a new report finds that raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour could benefit more than half a million employees. 

“The progressive Economic Policy Institute estimates that if the federal minimum wage is gradually increased from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour by 2025, roughly 560,000 workers in the child-care sector will benefit. 

“Prior to the pandemic, workers earned an average of $11.65 in 2019, an hourly wage that covers basic living expenses in just 10 states, according to the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Wage increases would primarily benefit women and minorities since 95% of child-care workers are women and 36% are Black or Hispanic.” 

“About 560,000 child-care workers would benefit from increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour,” by Megan Leonhardt, CNBC, June 9, 2021

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EEC Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy

Dear Program Leaders, 

Thank you all for the continued partnership and feedback as we continue to navigate this unprecedented time. As we continue to receive questions and feedback about the transition to post-COVID conditions, we wanted to assure you that EEC will continue to provide information and support throughout the months ahead as communities work to recalibrate our work through the summer. 

The Baker-Polito Administration announced that the remaining COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted beginning May 29, and EEC retired the Minimum Requirements for Health and Safety. We recognize that child care programs still face many challenges and our stakeholders need time to ensure the appropriate policies are put in place to meet the needs of the families you serve. EEC continues to be committed to supporting programs through this transition and assist you as you work to identify the path forward that works for your programs. As previously referenced, EEC will be establishing revised guidance around regulations and monitoring throughout the month of June and will not begin on-site monitoring until July. During the month of June we will send weekly communications to update providers and provide answers to the on-going questions received through office.commissioners@mass.gov.
 
EEC introduced Suggested Strategies for the Prevention and Response to COVID-19 in Early Education and Care Programs. We will continue to update this document with answers to frequently asked questions received through the months ahead.
 
To continue the ongoing dialogue with you all, I will be hosting a Conversation with the Commissioner on June 29th at 6pm. I look forward to hearing from you about the progress in your programs and to strategize together as we forge ahead.
 

Thank you for your commitment to the children and families of the Commonwealth and to the field of early education and care as a whole. We are building a better future together. 


Samantha Aigner-Treworgy
Commissioner of Early Education and Care
 

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Are you ready to advocate for young children, families, and early educators? 

The Massachusetts fiscal year 2022 budget is nearing completion.

Right now, a conference committee is reviewing and resolving differences between the House and Senate budgets. 

What’s at stake? For early education, there is a $44 million difference between the two budgets. 

You can help by contacting the committee’s six members. They are: 

• Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester)

• Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston)

• Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren)

• Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington)

• Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth)

• Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport)

Click here to email the conference committee and ask them to invest in high-quality early education and care and school-age/OST programs in the FY22 state budget.

Help our sector build back stronger, recruit and retain educators, and provide safe and high-quality programs for children and families. Every public dollar invested makes a difference. Advocate now! Continue Reading »

“Like millions of women across the country, Shekira Bradwell found herself in a no-win situation last year.

“Bradwell, a Philadelphia-area mother, realized she could either return to work and pay for a babysitter, or abandon that job and care for her child, whose school had reverted to distance learning. Bradwell’s daughter, 8, has special needs. The care her child required wasn’t just expensive, it was all but impossible to find. 

“Bradwell had little choice but to take family leave, a benefit that expired before her daughter’s in-person schooling resumed. By the end of the year, Bradwell, a 44-year-old with a master’s degree, found herself unemployed. 

“Bradwell is desperate to get back on track professionally, but she’s wary of returning to the same job she held before COVID-19 working in a child care center. The irony is, the industry’s low pay and rigorous time demands make it difficult for its workforce to meet their own child care needs.

“Close to 3 million women left the U.S. labor force during the pandemic. And that trend is reflected in the 94% female child care industry, where a little more than half of the workers are mothers. According to some estimates, child care lost 1 in 6 of its jobs while COVID-19 raged. 

“Many of those workers may never return to those jobs, in some cases because they’ve been lured to higher-paying – if less gratifying – work elsewhere. Experts told USA TODAY of former child care providers who now work at Starbucks or McDonald’s because now they at least have health insurance.”

“Parents desperately need child care. But day cares are struggling to retain workers.” by Alia Wong, USA TODAY, June 3, 2021

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In a recent exhibition, the teachers at Charlestown Nursery School (CNS) shared the important lessons they’ve learned from leaving their building and running their preschool program outdoors in their Boston neighborhood.

The move to the great urban outdoors occurred last fall in the middle of the pandemic. Every morning staff packed supplies into red wagons and pulled the wagons to a local park that served as a classroom. Children arrived in masks and weather appropriate clothing. Being outside helped mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

How did it go?

The teachers say it was the best year ever.
 
Outdoor Exhibition
To heighten their point, they put together the exhibition — “The Qualities of High Quality: Why Reimagining School Matters Now More than Ever” – to engage policymakers in a discussion about access, quality, and how to optimize young children’s learning experiences. Continue Reading »

Yesterday, the Massachusetts Senate passed its $47.7 billion state budget for fiscal year 2022.

The budget includes amendments that senators debated earlier this week. The amendments for early education and care that passed include funding for early childhood mental health ($500,000), Jumpstart ($250,000), and Square One ($50,000). Together these investments boost the bottom line for early education and care items by $800,000. Larger amendments for early education, including a $20 million rate reserve, were not adopted into the Senate budget.

Next, the FY22 budget process moves to a six-member conference committee that will reconcile differences between the House and Senate budgets. The conference committee’s members will be named soon.

Your advocacy will be critical. There is $44 million at stake for early education and care. That’s the total funding difference between the House and Senate budgets for the Department of Early Education and Care.

Please contact your state legislators today and ask them to invest in high-quality early education and care in the FY22 state budget.

For more information, visit our state budget webpage or contact Titus DosRemedios, tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org.

“One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and — pop! — out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar.

“He started to look for some food.”

— “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” by Eric Carle


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