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Photo: Yan Krukov from Pexels

What’s the best way to invest in early education and care?

State advocates have come up with nine guiding principles for policy leaders.

These policies are “designed to help create one mixed delivery system of care that is equitable and inclusive of all providers including family child care, public and private child care centers, Head Start, and public schools,” The Alliance for Early Success explains on its website where the nine principles are listed.

These principles also:

• focus on family choice and preferences

• ensure access to quality programs for all families

• create supply that can meet demand, and

• respond to communities’ needs and values

The nine principles are:

make child care affordable
Families living at or below the poverty level would not have to pay a fee for child care. And no family would pay more than 7 percent of their income.

fund the real cost of care
Child care providers should receive government funding that is based on the actual, full costs of providing high-quality care.

enact reforms and policies that are equitable
Equitable reforms and policies should benefit all families and invest additional resources in “communities that have been traditionally underserved.” Continue Reading »

“At a Y.M.C.A. in San Antonio, 200 children are on wait lists for child care because of hiring problems. It raised average hourly pay for full-time workers to $12.50 from $10, but still can’t recruit enough workers to meet the demand.”

“Schools have largely reopened this fall, but life is far from normal for parents of young children. One reason is that child care — for children too young for school, and for the hours before and after school — is operating at 88 percent of its prepandemic capacity. Even before the pandemic, child care did not cover everyone who needed it.

“The shortage is partly because of the pandemic. Some centers went out of business after lockdowns early on. Because children under 12 are not yet eligible for vaccines, many programs are enrolling fewer children to limit potential exposure. But the biggest reason for the shortages, child care providers across the country said, is they can’t find people to hire.”

“‘Can’t Compete’: Why Hiring for Child Care Is a Huge Struggle,” by Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times, September 22, 2021

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Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Source: Screenshot U.S. Treasury Facebook page

Forty years ago, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen had the same problem that many of today’s parents do: Yellen needed a babysitter so she could go to work.

She placed a want ad seeking a sitter. Because both she and her husband were economists, they decided to offer a salary that was more than the going wage.

As Yellen explained last week in a speech about child care shortages:

“Classical economics says that it’s not rational to pay a worker more than the market rate, but we hypothesized it could be. The job might be an important one, for example, and a higher wage could encourage someone to do better work. That’s a completely rational reason to pay someone more, especially if the job is some of the most intimate work there is, which is caring for children.”

“Our hypothesis proved correct, at least in our own home. The advertisement led us to a babysitter who took wonderful care of Robert while George and I were at work.”

Today, parents face a far more dire situation. Continue Reading »

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Dear Friend,

Over the past eighteen months, the health crisis has highlighted so many inequities in so many of our systems. It has also raised broad, concrete awareness of how critical and integral the early education and care sector is to our economy and to the future of this Commonwealth. Many of the challenges that we have faced over the years and worked together to address have been magnified over the last year.

We continue to be inspired by the dedicated and resilient early childhood workforce and its commitment to solving problems, building partnerships, and providing high-quality learning experiences under incredible circumstances.

The childcare crisis has been “seen” and made real to the general public, with babies and young children joining work zooms, stories of parents quitting or turning down jobs due to lack of stable childcare, and program administrators, educators, and family childcare providers responding by staying open to support children and families.

We have an opportunity to build back stronger – to reimagine a better early education and care system that works for all. The resiliency of the Commonwealth is dependent on the improvements we make today. 

It is time to make systemic change. Continue Reading »

 


 

”New reports from two government agencies suggest that the child care system is failing families, and not just during the pandemic.

”According to data from a Census Bureau survey, the pandemic introduced strains that caused 3 in 10 adults with young children — 6.6 million total adults — to remove kids from child care this summer.

A Treasury Department report released Wednesday states that 1 out of 6 dollars in family income goes to pay for child care, which is more than the average family spends on groceries and close to double what the government calls affordable.

“ ‘The free market works well in many different sectors, but child care is not one of them,’ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said at a news conference Wednesday.”

”New government reports paint child care system as ‘unworkable,’ ” by Joe Murphy, NBC News, September 16, 2021

“Compared with K through 12 students, preschoolers are suspended at nearly 3 times the frequency of older students,” Molly Kaplan, the host of the ACLU’s At Liberty podcast, explains in a recent episode called, “How To End the Preschool to Prison Pipeline.”

The episode focuses on the racial and social inequities that even very young children must face.

To explore the issue, Kaplan interviews Rosemarie Allen, a School of Education professor at the State University of Denver.

As Allen’s faculty webpage explains, “Her life’s work is centered on ensuring children have access to high quality early childhood programs that are developmentally and culturally appropriate… Her classes are focused on ensuring teachers are aware of how issues of equity, privilege, and power impact teaching practices.”

On the podcast, Allen describes the cascade of expulsions that young children can face.

“We’re finding that children as young as eight months old began to be suspended and expelled from their child care programs, usually for doing typical things that babies do, like crying or biting,” she says.

Continue Reading »


 
Tune in today at 1 p.m. to watch this school year’s first meeting of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

The meeting will cover a number of topics, including an update on EEC’s distribution of federal ARPA Child Care Stabilization Grants.

Now is a great time to catch up with the Board’s discussion of these important policy issues.

Last week at an emergency meeting, the Board voted to give Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy the authority to modify workforce regulations to help alleviate the ongoing workforce shortage.

Today the Board will hear EEC’s initial plan for these workforce modifications – a hot topic for the early childhood field. Continue Reading »

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Photo: nappy from Pexels

There’s a new child care survey for Massachusetts parents.

So please ask the parents in your programs to fill it out. It should take less than five minutes.

“Help us to identify what is most important to you as a parent/guardian of 0-5 year old child(ren),” the survey says.  “We will use this information to guide expansion of child care supports.”

As we’ve blogged (here and here), gathering data from families is a crucial step in developing successful child care policies.

The survey is the result of a partnership between the Boston Public School’s Department of Early Childhood; the City of Boston’s Economic Mobility Lab — a team of social entrepreneurs who work in the Mayor’s Office of Policy to “advance the upward economic mobility of Bostonians;” and the Boston Opportunity Agenda, which is part of StriveTogether, “a national network of local communities striving to achieve racial equity and economic mobility.” Continue Reading »

Going on vacation

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

 

The blog is going on vacation. See you in September!

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