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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. (more…)

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”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

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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. (more…)

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Vanessa Pashkoff

Vanessa Pashkoff

Vanessa Pashkoff spent time in high school and college working as a nanny. And she was always inspired by “the spark of children and wonder,” she says. But as a student in McMaster University, in Canada, where she’s from, she earned a degree in political science. 

“I was convinced I was going to be a social worker.” 

A friend, however, was going to teach in Korea, and that inspired Pashkoff to look into teaching abroad. She applied to a program, got accepted, took a crash course in teaching English as a second language and spent a year teaching a preschool class in Japan. 

“I lived in Kobe,” Pashkoff recalls, “and I loved it. It was amazing to help people learn and to see another environment and the cultural differences. It really was what I was looking for without knowing it.” 

“I created some incredible relationships with families, and I am still in touch with them to this day.” 

While she was in Japan, Pashkoff decided to apply to Brock University in Ontario, Canada, so she could earn a degree in education. 

“It was the kind of thing where everyone else seemed to know that I was going to end up being an educator or a teacher, and I just never wanted to admit it,” she says.  (more…)

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“Andrea Wagner, the chief technical officer from Berkshires Sterile Manufacturing in Lee, encouraged other biotech companies to consider a move to Western Massachusetts.

“ ‘There is a huge need for sustainable jobs out here,” she said. “Although we do have trouble finding talent similar to you, the cost of living is lower (and) the educational structure here is similar, if not better than Boston.’ 

“She added, though, that a lack of childcare has been a major issue for employees. The company tried to solve this issue by giving space in its facility to a nonprofit daycare in exchange for discounted daycare for employees, but the daycare has been short-staffed and partially closed since the pandemic began.”

 

— “Massachusetts vaccine makers cite talent pipeline, childcare as biggest barriers to recruitment,” by Amy Sokolow, The Boston Herald, July 27, 2021

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Photo: mentatdgt from Pexels

Now is the time — as we’ve blogged here and here — to apply for the Child Care Stabilization Grants that will be distributed by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

Here are a number of resources that can help as you apply for this noncompetitive grant.

NEW! Strategies for Children will host two information sessions TOMORROW. Here’s the registration information:

Wednesday, August 11: 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Ju7XaNRgQMOm1z1xZtEt2g

Wednesday, August 11: 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. (with Spanish interpretation)
https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_X6nwmqzVREicD1aJ5nGeeg

Strategies has also created an EEC Child Care Stabilization Grant Information Page on its website where you can find:

• SFC’s Guide to the Grant information sheets for GSA and FCC providers

• Google forms to collect questions and feedback for EEC

• upcoming information sessions and provider panels — as well as recordings of previous events, and

• additional application resources from EEC

EEC Resources

EEC Child Care Stabilization Grant: EEC’s grant information page has a number of useful resources, including:

GSA Application PDF

FCC Application PDF

User Guide

Video Library, and the

C3 Formula Calculator

For even more help with the application contact the ARPA Child Care Stabilization Grants Help Desk Support at 833-600-2074.

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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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Act now! It’s time for early education and care providers in Massachusetts to apply for federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has just released the application. Licensed providers can use their LEAD login information to apply here.

As we’ve blogged, the funds — $314 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Child Care Stabilization money – will be distributed through an accessible process.

Your program can receive up to six monthly payments to support operating costs.

In an email, EEC Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy adds, “This unprecedented influx of federal funds is aimed at providing short-term financing for child care providers to help sustain program operations despite enrollment fluctuations and ensure the continued availability of care in under-resourced communities.”

Who is eligible? (more…)

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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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The pandemic has taken a dire toll on families and on early education. But, according to a new report from the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, this global crisis also produced important lessons for the future.

The report – “Persevering through the Pandemic: Key Learnings about Children from Parents and Early Educators” – “contains five snapshots addressing two guiding questions: How are children doing? And what is helping children and families cope with the challenges they have faced over the past fifteen months?”

The snapshot topics are:

• parents’ concerns about children’s academic and social/emotional development

• early educators’ reports on children’s behavior: a mix of negative but also positive details

• parents’ perspective on how supportive early education programs and school have been

• early educators’ reports on how they have helped children navigate and process the pandemic, and

• how families have drawn strength from their time together

As a press release explains, the report draws on data from the Early Learning Study at Harvard’s surveys of parents and early educators.

(more…)

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