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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.” (more…)

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“Eight years ago, in the last open race for mayor in 2013, candidates like John Barros talked about the developmental advantages of early education, but it was hardly a campaign issue. Even the ambitious, and unfulfilled, campaign promise tossed out by Martin J. Walsh — to create free universal preschool for all city 4-year-olds — barely registered as news.

“But in this year’s contest, following a pandemic that wreaked havoc on parents’ ability to work, early education and child care have leaped to the forefront of political consciousness. Four of the five major contenders have presented detailed campaign plans on the issue and all have endorsed the recent recommendations of the Birth to Eight Collaborative, a coalition of parents, nonprofits, schools, and advocates working to ensure all children are prepared to succeed when they enter school.

“ ‘To see the issue of child care move into the center of public discourse is so important,’ said Sarah Muncey, a Jamaica Plain mother and a leader in early education who has been advocating for systemic changes — to little effect, before now. ‘The pandemic showed us that this is an economic issue — that underneath it all, this humming city, is an invisible child-care force. We are not invisible anymore.’ ”

“Child care is now a major political issue. Here’s how the Boston mayoral candidates want to reform it,” by Stephanie Ebbert, The Boston Globe, August 4, 2021

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Screenshot: Boston Opportunity Agenda report

 
Boston’s supply of child care is shrinking, a new report says. And this shortage is making it tough for parents who want to work and for businesses looking for employees.

“Boston’s child-care crisis was a gloomy reality long before COVID-19 entered our lives in 2020,” the report says. “As of 2017, 35 percent of 0- to 5-year-olds did not have access to early education and care seats in their neighborhoods, if desired by their families.”

The pandemic made things worse. As the Boston Globe reports in an article covering the report, “Recovery has been slow, with only 28 licensed programs reopening between last November and March.”

And some neighborhoods are harder hit than others.

“Most neighborhoods saw declines in the number of eligible children referred to early intervention, with the steepest drops, as high as 25 percent, in central Boston, Roxbury, and Hyde Park.” (more…)

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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. (more…)

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Screenshot: City of Boston website

The city of Boston is launching another child care survey, asking for feedback from Boston parents.

The survey’s purpose is “to better understand how families access and experience care for their children, ages five and under,” the survey website explains

“We want to better understand your challenges with childcare. Your answers will help inform a City policy that works for all.”

It’s an easy, quick, important way for parents to help shape public policy.

The survey asks parents and guardians about their preferences, and it asks about child care accessibility, affordability, and quality. 

(more…)

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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. (more…)

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“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.” (more…)

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On streets across America, every night at around 6 p.m., child care programs shut their doors for the day — shutting out working parents who need late-night or early-morning child care programs.

It’s a problem that has grown more vivid as the COVID-19 pandemic reveals the fragility of the country’s child care systems. 

“In a resource-starved child care system, very few licensed child care providers can serve the child care needs of parents with schedules outside the old, standard, 9-to-5 business day,” Sandra Teixeira of the nonprofit organization New England United for Justice says in a new video.

The result, Teixeira says, parents get shut out of nighttime, weekend, and other off-hour jobs. 

That’s why a group of nonprofit organizations and labor unions convened by Community Labor United have launched a new initiative called Care that Works to transform child care delivery in Massachusetts.

The first step:

The “union-backed coalition, with help from the city of Boston, is launching a pilot program to provide childcare in the early morning, for workers in industries like construction that do not have standard work hours,” CommonWealth magazine reports. (more…)

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“Right now, we are all feeling concern, anxiety, and confusion about the spread of the coronavirus. It’s entirely understandable. This is an unprecedented situation, both in the nature of the public health challenge and in the steps we are taking to protect our residents.

“That’s why I wanted to address the people of Boston, and anyone else who needs some reassurance right now. We must remember: we are not powerless—and you are not alone.”

“We are doing everything we can right now to stop and slow the spread of this virus to prevent our health care systems from being overwhelmed. But we can’t do it alone. We need everyone’s help in this effort.

“Every single one of us has a crucial responsibility to protect the people we share our city with, especially the most vulnerable. The actions all of us take now will save lives. So remember:

• Keep washing with soap and sanitizing your hands throughout the day.

• Keep wiping down surfaces with disinfectant.

• Keep covering your coughs and sneezes.

• And above all, avoid crowds, maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people, and stay home as much as possible.

“We need everyone to limit their contact with each other right now. This is the social distancing that we are learning to practice together as a city. It’s a proven method to prevent the rapid spread of the coronavirus and protect those most at risk from it.”

“These are not ordinary times in our city. But there is nothing ordinary about Boston. Bostonians are resilient, forged in hard times, and committed to a higher purpose. There’s nothing we can’t do when we stand together. We possess the strength and spirit to get through any challenge we face. We are Boston Strong. And with vigilance and patience, with empathy and love, we will get through this, together.”

 

— Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s letter to his constituents, March 18, 2020

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Spread the word: On Wednesday, April 1, 2020, everyone will be able to fill out the Census 2020 form.

It’s a small act with huge consequences. Every 10 years, the Census Bureau attempts to count everyone living in the United States.

And every 10 years, many people go uncounted, which can mean losing representation in Congress and losing crucial federal funding. In addition, state programs won’t have a clear count of their populations. Nor will researchers. And businesses won’t have a clear picture of the marketplace.

One commonly undercounted groups?

Children. (more…)

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