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Archive for the ‘Cost and affordability’ Category

Last night, President Joe Biden delivered his address to a joint session of Congress, calling for national progress in a number of areas, including early education.

According to a White House fact sheet, the president’s plan will “provide families with a range of options to choose from for their child, from child care centers to family child care providers, Early Head Start, and public schools that are inclusive and accessible to all children.”

Here are some excerpts from the president’s speech and some online reactions to what he said:

“Tonight, I come to talk about crisis and opportunity, about rebuilding the nation, revitalizing our democracy, and winning the future for America.”

“The great universities of this country have conducted studies over the last 10 years. It shows that adding two years of universal high-quality preschool for every three-year-old and four-year-old, no matter what background they come from, it puts them in the position to be able to compete all the way through 12 years. It increases exponentially their prospect of graduating and going on beyond graduation.”

“Second thing we need: American Families Plan will provide access to quality, affordable childcare… And I’m proposing a legislation to guarantee that low- and middle-income families will pay no more than 7 percent of their income for high-quality care for children up to the age of 5. The most hard-pressed working families won’t have to spend a dime.”

“Third, the American Families Plan will finally provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave and medical leave — family and medical leave… No one should have to choose between a job and paycheck or taking care of themselves and their loved ones –- a parent, a spouse, or child.”

— President Joe Biden
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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. 

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 
The Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee has released its FY ’22 budget.

It’s a $47.6 billion budget proposal, that’s slightly higher, the Gloucester Daily Times reports, than the $45.6 billion budget that Governor Charlie Baker released in January.

“The House budget proposal calls for a 2.6% spending increase from fiscal 2021 and expects the state to collect $30.1 billion in tax revenue (the revenue drops to $24.3 billion after factoring in payments to the pension fund, MBTA and state reserves),” according to MassLive.com.

For early education and care, the House’s proposed budget specifics include:

• $358.9 million to fund child care for children served by the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Transitional Assistance

• $298.7 million in child care funds to support income-eligible families

• $20 million for a salary reserve to increase rates for center-based early education

• $15 million for Head Start

• $12 million for child care resource and referral agencies

• $5 million for pre-school expansion efforts

• $5 million for professional development opportunities, and

• $2.5 million for the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Grant (more…)

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Fifty years ago, Sandy Faiman-Silva was a young, single mother with a teaching job who couldn’t afford to pay all her bills, including her rent and child care costs. She ended up quitting her job and going on public assistance.

Today, Faiman-Silva is a professor emerita of Anthropology at Bridgewater State University – and she’s an activist pointing out that too many women still face the same challenges she did all those decades ago.

Faiman-Silva shares this story on a video posted by the Cape and Islands chapter of the Common Start Coalition, which is advocating for a bill in the Massachusetts State House – nicknamed the Common Start Legislation — that would set up a system of affordable, high-quality, universal child care. This bill is particularly crucial now, as Massachusetts and the world navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Representative Susan Moran (D-Falmouth) also appears in the video. A mother of three and a lawyer who has represented a child care center, Moran says:

“I lived the daily trials parents suffer to find the consistent, dependable child care and early education they need — and their children deserve — to allow them to focus on work so they can advance their careers. You all know what I’m talking about.”

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As the world staggers through the pandemic, people are wisely asking how to rebuild in ways that make society better than it was before COVID-19.

To explore this topic, Boston Indicators — the research center at The Boston Foundation – has launched a series of articles called, “Seizing the Moment: Proposals for a Just and Equitable Recovery.”

The articles cover a range of policy issues including transportation, housing, and work and the economy. The articles’ authors will speak at a culminating event on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. Click here to register.

A newly published article in the series, by Titus Dos Remedios and Marisa Fear of Strategies for Children, covers early education and care.

This article points to the need for new, more ambitious standards for progress: 

“Old progressive policy goals like universal, affordable child care that once seemed far out of reach are now part of what’s necessary for an equitable economic recovery for all. If lawmakers don’t seize the current opportunity, the next time the child-care sector is pushed to the brink it may be too late—children, families and providers simply cannot withstand another national emergency.”

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) wants to hear your thoughts about the parent fee scale.

So please register for one of the information sessions – Monday, March 8, 2021, at 11a.m. and Monday, March 8, 2021, at 7p.m. with Spanish translation – and share your thoughts.

The parent fee scale indicates the amount that families have to pay toward their state subsidized child care.

Unfortunately, the current fee scale is outdated. It was last revised in 2006, with additional minor adjustments made in 2014. (more…)

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Screenshot of a report from the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing

 

Faced with the devastation caused by the pandemic, the early childhood community has been asking how it can rebuild and become stronger than ever.

To facilitate this work, the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation (IEELI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston hosted a series of webinars last summer.

The webinars – “Reinventing Child Care in Massachusetts” – drew more than 700 early childhood professionals and other stakeholders who shared ideas for building an early childhood system that would be:

• high-quality

• accessible to all families

• able to provide professional compensation to educators based on their skill and experience

• able to offer professional and leadership development, and

• active in addressing racial inequities

Once the series was done, IEELI teamed up with Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing (NOW), part of Boston Medical Center’s Vital Village Networks, and the two organizations ran an Action Lab 90 Day Challenge.

The 90 Day Challenge is a tool that Vital Village Networks uses to promote “social connections, cooperative development of social innovations (co-design), team-based iterative learning, and collective actions by using an equity framework.” (more…)

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Businesses and companies are paying more attention to their workers’ child care needs – and bringing welcome energy to efforts to build a child care system that is stronger than ever.

As we’ve blogged, a new organization, the Massachusetts Business Coalition for Early Childhood Education, is advocating across the state.

And last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia hosted a webinar, “The Business Case for Employer Assisted Childcare,” that explored actions businesses can take to support working parents.

The webinar features insights from business and community leaders that can and should be shared with local, statewide, and national businesses.

Julia Barfield, formerly with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation spoke first, explaining that companies are paying some of the “hidden costs” of poor access to child care.

One example: When a worker quits because they can’t find child care, companies spend 20 percent of that worker’s total compensation to find a replacement. (more…)

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Binal Patel. Photo courtesy of Binal Patel.

“Now more than ever, being an early educator or administrator means automatically being an advocate, it has become impossible not to see the inequities and to continue not saying anything about it,” Binal Patel says, sharing her experience of going from an assistant preschool teacher to working in policy and systems building for the field of early childhood.

Patel studied economics and computer science in college. After she graduated, she worked for a few years in marketing, but deep down always knew that being a teacher was her calling. 

“A close friend died in a car crash and that jolted me,” she says. “It just hit me that if I was really passionate about working with kids, and I know that teaching is what I want to do, then what am I waiting for, life is too short.” 

And that’s what she did. She earned a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from New York University, and then worked as a preschool teacher at the Phillips Brooks School in California. 

“I remember the school being nothing short of magical, a Reggio-inspired preschool where the children and their curiosity drove our curriculum and work. I was lucky to have been mentored and coached by a wonderful director, Debra Jarjoura, who saw the potential in me. Ever since then, I’ve never looked back.” 

It was the beginning of a journey. Patel went on to work as a teacher for 4- and 5-year-olds at Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, an independent school in Cambridge, Mass.  (more…)

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Sarah Mills

How do you go from being a preschool teacher to working as a legislative aide in the Massachusetts State House? 

For Sarah Mills, it’s all about loving the work of interacting with young children. 

In elementary and middle school, Mills enjoyed helping out with infants and toddlers who were enrolled in her public school’s preschool program. 

As a Syracuse University college student, Mills got a work-study job at her campus’ early education center. 

And when she came to Boston to attend graduate school at Simmons University, she needed to work full-time, so she found a job at KinderCare in downtown Boston where she spent half her time working with infants and half her time working in the afterschool program. 

“When I was younger, I just loved kids; they were so much fun to hang out with,” Mills recalls. “It’s really exciting being with kids who are ages zero to five because you get to watch them go through so many significant milestones, whether it’s their first steps or their first words. Being with kids at this age is truly joyful.” 

“Another wonderful thing is that you get to know the families. I had a lot of families with first-time babies, and so I had the responsibility of helping to educate them and helping them to feel comfortable, because it’s scary to drop your child off for the first time with people you’ve just met. And I was working before the paid family leave law. So I saw parents who had no choice but to bring children who were six weeks or 12 weeks old to our program.”  (more…)

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