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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the holiday!

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

After a turbulent budget season, the Massachusetts state budget for fiscal year 2021 is being finalized now. A six-member Conference Committee is meeting to reconcile funding differences between the House and Senate budgets.

These two budgets have allocated different amounts of funding for early education and care (EEC) line items.

More than $100 million is at stake for EEC programs.

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s crucial to maximize funding for early education and care by encouraging legislators to include the higher budget amounts for each EEC line item.

Click here to email the Conference Committee today, and ask them to invest in high-quality early education and care in the final FY21 state budget.

The budget will likely pass within a few days. Please take action now!

For more budget and advocacy information, contact Titus DosRemedios: tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org

“I think it’s important for us to teach that little black girl that there’s nothing wrong with her because of the color of her skin, because of the texture of her hair. And I think it’s also important for us to teach that little white boy, that there’s nothing right about him because of the color of his skin, or even because of the texture of his hair, that there’s nothing superior about him.

“I also think it’s important for us to deliberately teach our children — especially if you’re in a community where, let’s say, the resource-rich side of town is predominantly white, and the resource-poor side of town is predominantly black — for us to talk to our kids about that and say, you know, those black folks do not have less, because they are less; those white folks don’t have more, because they are more. And then the student, even if they’re five years old, they’re like, Okay, so then, what’s the reason? And that’s when we can talk about rules and unfair rules.”

Boston University Professor Ibram Kendi, discussing antiracism and early childhood policy with the Alliance for Early Success, November 18, 2020

 

“COVID-19 revealed to the entire country what the early education and care field has known for years: Childcare is the backbone of our economy,” a new report says.

Unfortunately, that backbone is badly broken.

The report – “Boston’s Child-Care Supply Crisis: What a Pandemic Reveals” – was released by The Boston Opportunity Agenda and the Boston Birth to Eight Collaborative. The report’s findings were shared this week in a webinar that included Amy O’Leary, the director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All Campaign. A recording of the webinar is posted here.

The report highlights Boston’s shrinking supply of child care, a decrease that began long before the pandemic. Between 2017 and March 2020, the city “experienced a net loss of 3 percent of its licensed child-care seats for children 0–5 years old,” the report says. This loss worse in individual neighborhoods, including a 14 percent loss in Dorchester and a 15 percent loss in East Boston.

Add the pandemic in, and this loss is staggering. “Between December 2017 and September 2020, the loss at the city level was estimated at 16 percent.” At the neighborhood level, “East Boston, Dorchester, Hyde Park and Roxbury lost, respectively, 33.5 percent, 24 percent, 18 percent, and 17 percent in that period.” Continue Reading »

Our Interns

Here at Strategies for Children, interns are an important part of the work we do. Interns help us with advocacy, research, and social media. And they ask important questions and contribute new ideas, enabling us to expand our reach.

Currently, we have three interns whom we’re happy to introduce: Teresia Kiragu, Nicole Simonson, and Abigail Usherwood. Here’s a little more about each of them.

 

Teresia Kiragu

I am currently a student at Bunker Hill Community College, enrolled in the Business Management program. I chose this course because I have a vision that one day, I will open a non-governmental organization to help children who are vulnerable and give them an opportunity to get a strong education. I’m originally from Kenya, where I worked for an organization that helps under-resourced communities. While working in this organization, I saw a lot of children who are desperately in need; nonetheless, they have the right to be raised well and become contributing members of the society.

During my time at Strategies, I have learned how the Massachusetts state budget distributes funds to schools. Continue Reading »

State budget updates

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

It has been a turbulent year for state budget proceedings in Massachusetts. The fiscal year 2021 budget has been delayed since July due to the pandemic. Instead of a full budget for the entire year, the state has passed monthly budgets which essentially extend the fiscal year 2020 budget one month at a time. There was also a supplemental budget for the FY20 fiscal year, which Governor Baker signed on July 24, 2020. That budget included critical funding related to COVID-19 relief for early education and care, including $45.6 million in federal CARES Act funding used for child care reopening grants.

In October, Governor Baker released his revised FY21 budget proposal, which he had originally released in January. This budget preserved and increased funding for early education and care, while also proposing a new Early Education COVID Recovery Fund.

Now in November, the FY21 budget is rapidly coming together. The House passed its budget last week; it contains much needed funding for early education and care, including a $20 million rate increase for early educators and $10 million for a reserve to reduce fees for parents enrolling in subsidized child care. The House budget also earmarks up to $50 million in the two child care access accounts for COVID-related child care stabilization funding and incentive pay for early educators.

House Budget: H.5150

Executive Summary

House Amendments, Consolidated Amendment A

Continue Reading »

The big picture: Child care is denting the workforce, preventing a huge swath of Americans from contributing to their firms and to the economy at large. To chip away at the problem, and protect their bottom lines, employers are bulking up child care benefits for workers.

By the numbers:

• Working parents — who make up about a third of the U.S. workforce — are losing an average of eight hours per week due to child care responsibilities during the pandemic, per Northeastern University research.

• Even before the pandemic, inadequate child care was costing working parents $37 billion a year in lost income and employers $13 billion a year in lost productivity, according to Care.com’s data.

What’s happening: Companies across states and industries are bolstering existing benefits and adding new, creative ones to help their employees with kids.

New services: Citigroup is offering discounted test prep and tutoring to employees with school-age kids, reports Fortune.

Making connections: Home Depot and Dell have established support groups for working parents to swap tips or just vent.

Good, old cash: Many working parents are saying the best benefit is simply money, which gives them the flexibility to seek out the specific type of child care that makes sense for them. Bank of America and Deloitte, among other firms, are offering up to $100 a day in child care reimbursements during the pandemic.”

 

“The business case for child care,” by Erica Pandey, Axios, November 10, 2020

 

There’s a new mental health resource for parents who are worried about their children, Handhold.

“You know your child better than anyone. But even you have a few questions,” Handhold says on its website, which helps parents find mental health programs for their children.

This is a particularly important resource now, as families grapple with the global pandemic. As Handhold explains:

“COVID-19 is putting incredible pressure on families. You might be noticing your child is struggling in new ways, or that old problems are getting worse. Should you worry about your child’s behavioral health? We’re here to help you figure that out.”

The website – organized by three state agencies: the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the Office of the Child Advocate, and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services – draws on community insights:

“Family partners and parents of kids with similar experiences to yours told us what they wished they had known earlier in their journey. Mental health experts, including child psychiatrists, social workers, and psychologists, selected the most relevant and useful resources.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

 

This year, the Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund is focusing on helping EEOST programs cope with the demands of keeping children healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Created in 2013, the fund distributes grants to “finance new construction and renovation” projects that can include classrooms, restrooms, buildings, and outdoor spacesThe fund is administered by the Children’s Investment Fund, an affiliate of the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC), and by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

Now, the fund, “will award grants between $100,000 and $250,000… for capital improvements related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.” The grants are smaller than usual so that more programs will benefit.

“We know that child care providers are facing tremendous strain because of the COVID pandemic. Many are modifying their spaces to continue to provide early education services to families safely,” the fund says in a blog post. “Being able to have the flexibility to use the resources available through the EEOST Capital Fund to meet their needs and strengthen the Commonwealth’s childcare infrastructure is important, as many families rely on child care to return to work.” Continue Reading »

“While we have made progress in Massachusetts, we know that Covid… has highlighted so many of the inequities in so many systems, and it has also raised broad, concrete awareness of how integral early education and care is to our economy, to the well-being of children and families, and really to the future of our commonwealth.”

– Amy O’Leary, Director of the Early Education for All Campaign at Strategies for Children

 

“We actually have to figure out how much [child care] we need. We haven’t had an honest evaluation of what’s needed in the country, and then, what is that going to cost? And then we have to figure out who is going to pay for it. Because we have programs right now where the cost to produce a quality program for children costs more than our parents can afford to pay… who’s going to pay [to fill] that gap is what we as a nation have yet to figure out.”

– Linda Smith, Director of the Early Childhood Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center

 

“What’s At Stake In The 2020 Election For Massachusetts: Early Education And Childcare,” WBUR Radio, October 27, 2020

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