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Source: Eastern Bank Instagram page

 

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, early education and care programs are getting crucial philanthropic support.

This includes $5 million in grant funding from Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Eastern Bank.

The grants will help “organizations focused on the most vulnerable populations,” including families with young children, emergency child care centers, family child care centers, and child care professionals.

“It takes a community of public and private partners working together to stave off the devastating and long-lasting impacts of this disease, and this philanthropic investment is intended to make a meaningful contribution to this effort,” Bob Rivers, the chair and CEO of Eastern Bank says in a press release.

Nancy Huntington Stager, president and CEO of Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, adds in the release, “Evidence of the impact of this virus outbreak on our neighbors, families, and small businesses is everywhere. And we also see the resiliency, sheer will, and hope of people across our region as they band together to help one another. The need for assistance continues to grow, and we will continue to do whatever we can to give back as well as encourage those who are able to do so to join us.” (more…)

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Yesterday Governor Charlie Baker announced a four-phase reopening plan for Massachusetts. It’s a comprehensive strategy to safely get people back to work and ease restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19. Visit the new Reopening Massachusetts webpage for details and read the report from the Reopening Advisory Board.

What does this mean for child care?

• During phase 1, exempt emergency child care will remain in place to meet the needs of families with no alternatives for child care. Currently this system, which can serve up to 10,000 children, is at only 35% capacity

• The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Department of Public Health are creating additional health and safety standards for serving more children and families

• For additional information, visit EEC’s new webpage, Reopening Child Care: A Phased Approach

• To craft its regulations, EEC is drawing on public health guidance as well as field data from educators and families

There are still many unknowns for families, educators, program directors, and state officials. What we know for sure, however, is that safe, high-quality child care is essential to any reopening plan and to the state’s economic recovery.

We’ll share more information and advocacy opportunities in the coming days and weeks.

Thank you for all you are doing to support children and families.

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

COVID-19 has exposed long-term weaknesses in Massachusetts’ early education and care system – and made them worse, Joan Wasser Gish explains in a new CommonWealth Magazine article, “An early education system for a post-pandemic world.”

“If we are going to restore our economy, now and in the future,” the article says, “it will require a functioning system of affordable, accessible, high quality early education and care.”

Wasser Gish is a member of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care – and a former director of research and policy at Strategies for Children.

Long before COVID-19, she notes, families and early childhood programs have struggled with costs.

“Massachusetts has the second highest cost of child care in the nation, swallowing 39 percent of earnings in a typical Massachusetts family. For parents who work odd or unpredictable hours, or plan around the agrarian school calendar, child care is a decades-long, fraught, expensive patchwork.” (more…)

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How should Massachusetts reopen its early education and care programs?

By being responsive to the new needs that parents and employers have in a COVID-19 world.

That’s why Strategies for Children and 38 other organizations have submitted a letter to Governor Charlie Baker’s Reopening Advisory Board, which is actively seeking public feedback as it develops a plan “to reopen the economy in phases based on health and safety metrics.”

As our letter explains, taking careful next steps is essential.

“As you develop recommendations for how best to re-boot economic recovery in Massachusetts,” the letter says, “we ask that you include an intentional focus on reopening and strengthening the child care sector. No recovery will be successful if employees and working families do not have access to safe, affordable, high-quality child care for their children.”

The letter also points to the business sector’s support for child care, explaining: (more…)

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Source: Strategies for Children

 

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Strategies for Children has set up a family survey so we can learn about parents’ and caregivers’ experiences with child care.

So far, there have been more than 1,550 responses. We’ve posted a summary of them, and we are sharing this information with policymakers to help guide their work.

Among the written responses is this troubling observation from Natick:

“It is proving difficult, draining, and detrimental to the mental well-being for working parents to juggle full time workloads and round-the-clock childcare. While many parents are non-essential, they are still working remotely but without the option of childcare. Needless to say, one person cannot perform two full-time jobs simultaneously. Parents need support in the form of teaching resources but also mental health and emotional support.”

Crunching the survey numbers produced these results: (more…)

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Technical assistance. Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

The coronavirus has forced early education and care providers to protect themselves – from both the virus and from the virus-wracked economy.

To help providers with these financial challenges, we are co-sponsoring a technical assistance webinar tomorrow at 2 p.m. The full details are:

 

Town Hall for Massachusetts Childcare & Early Education Providers

To address some of the significant changes you are facing, or may come to face, in this quickly changing environment

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 Eastern time

Click here to register.

[Update: Here’s the link to the webinar recording.]

The webinar will feature lawyers from Goodwin Procter’s Neighborhood Business Initiative as well as speakers from the Children’s Investment Fund, Neighborhood Villages, and Strategies for Children.

“Providers are experts at child development. And Goodwin Procter has tremendous legal experience working with local businesses, nonprofits, and banks,” Titus Dos Remedios, Strategies’ director of research and policy, says. “Connecting these two groups will help providers immediately and over time as we move beyond the pandemic.” (more…)

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As early education and care providers struggle through the coronavirus crisis, they have a business-world ally: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of Foundation.

The foundation’s stance is simple and clear: high-quality child care is good for children, families, and business.

And now in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, with “over 30 states implementing stay-at-home orders… the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is committed to helping the childcare industry weather this storm.”

To provide “more information for childcare businesses struggling to stay afloat, the Chamber Foundation hosted a webinar” that covers the virus’ impact on the child care industry, the federal response, and how providers can access loans and other resources for small businesses.

Neil Bradley, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief policy officer, discussed the many features of the new federal CARES Act. And Bridget Weston, the acting CEO of the SCORE Association, explained that her organization provides volunteer business mentors who can help small businesses navigate during the immediate crisis and over time. SCORE, a partner of the federal Small Business Association, also offers online education and weekly webinars. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

As the country struggles to cope with the coronavirus, a group of Massachusetts elected officials and their spouses have written a powerful Boston Globe op-ed that calls on Congress to support the child care industry with a bailout.

“COVID-19 has (rightfully) forced the closure of child care centers across Massachusetts. In doing so, it has forced a profound reckoning about the state of the American child care system,” the op-ed says.

The closures, as we’ve blogged, have sown fears and doubts and hard questions that do not yet have answers. And on Wednesday, Governor Baker extended school and non-emergency child care closures to May 4, 2020.

However, the op-ed says:

“One thing is clear: We can no longer afford to approach child care as an economic accessory. We must approach it as the oxygen on which every facet of our recovery will depend.”

The op-ed’s authors are Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and her husband Bruce Mann, a Harvard Law School professor; Representative Joe Kennedy III and his wife Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, the co-founder of Neighborhood Villages; Representative Katherine Clark; and Representative Ayanna Pressley and her husband Conan Harris, the principal of Conan Harris & Associates LLC Consultant Firm.

Exploring the bigger picture, the op-ed adds: (more…)

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“When people ask me why it’s difficult to find high-quality early child care, one of the first things I bring up is how quality is too expensive for most parents. As a result, providers often don’t charge enough and parents don’t pay enough to cover the true cost of quality care.

“If they did, early child care educators would be making more than the poverty-level wages many earn. But most parents would also be pushed out of a child care market that’s already difficult to afford. The result is what we see today: a market that allows substandard early child care and education to proliferate. Just ask the experts who rate the majority of child care as fair.

“In this mostly private market, charging less than what high quality truly costs has been the pathway to increasing access to early child care, but it’s a dead end. Without intervention, the tenuous balance between rate-setting for parents and low wages for workers will continue, pushing down quality and the overall supply of early child care.”

 

“High-quality early child care requires fair teacher pay supported through public investment: Sacrificing quality to increase affordability is not the answer,” by Sarah Ann Savage, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 30, 2020

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Last night, WBUR and Neighborhood Villages hosted “Childcare And The Future Of The American Dream,” a panel discussion featuring:

Nathaniel Hendren, Professor of Economics at Harvard University and Founding Co-Director of Opportunity Insights

Linda Smith, Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Early Childhood Development Initiative, and

Michelle Sanchez, Principal of the Epiphany Early Learning Center (more…)

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