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— Vice President Harris’ Facebook page, April 15, 2021

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The United States could build a universal preschool system in 30 years.

That’s according to NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research), which has come up with a two-part plan based on federal, state, and local government sharing costs.

“At its current pace and without federal government leadership, the United States won’t reach all children with free preschool before 2100,” NIEER Founder and Senior co-Director Steven Barnett says in a press release.

Currently, publicly-funded preschool in the United States serves only 1.8 million children, NIEER estimates. Most states, including Massachusetts, deploy their public funding to the mixed-delivery system of early education and care, which includes center-based programs, Head Start programs, and public school districts.

NIEER’s plan “calls on the federal government to match state and local-level investments in high-quality preschool for children under 200 percent of the federal poverty level. This focus will expand high-quality preschool to 2.5 million more low-income 3- and 4-year-olds by 2040.

“Building on this foundation, state and local governments would be able to expand their preschool programs to reach all 3- and 4-year-olds by 2050 and achieve universal high-quality preschool in all 50 states.

“The cost-sharing plan would enable states to set high preschool quality standards, provide children full-day preschool 180 days a year, and support competitive salaries for well-qualified teachers.” (more…)

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“Both our failing physical infrastructure and the impossible choices we impose on caregivers put our nation at a competitive disadvantage. If it is the road that gets you to work, it is the child care that gets you through the day, and workers are counting on these supports.”

“Child care needs to be a guarantee, not an expensive hassle that drives parents out of the workforce or makes them choose between wages and family. We will make it easier for people to find the care that fits their specific needs. And we will put an end to a structure that depends on the exploitation of child care workers to make child care affordable, and increase wages for the essential workers helping [to] raise the next generation.”

 

A letter from U.S. Representative Richard Neal, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, April 5, 2021. See also “Top Democrat calling for expansion of child care support,” by Joseph Choi, The Hill, April 6, 2021

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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.”

(more…)

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Screenshot: MIRA Coalition report

 
How well is Massachusetts reaching out to the nearly 481,000 immigrant parents who live in the state? The MIRA Coalition did a study to find out.

“The barriers faced by immigrant parents have been particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, as families have struggled to maintain access to state-sponsored early childhood programs, K-12 schools, community-based organizations and various social services,” MIRA says in a new report summarizing its findings.

“As remote learning requirements have forced parents to provide supplemental instruction and monitoring for online learning, parents who are limited-English proficient (LEP) have lower levels of education or digital literacy, have faced disproportionate challenges.”

The research focused on families in the cities of Lawrence, Brockton, Everett, Springfield, and Worcester. And researchers interviewed 80 service providers and policy experts.

Among the findings: (more…)

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“I feel a great responsibility to remember and think of the educators, program directors, family childcare providers, school staff, CEOs, and community leaders who have shown up every day for children and families to start with this pandemic.

“We continue to be inspired by this resilient workforce, but we know that is not enough. We cannot return to the way things were. We cannot call child care essential for the economy and then continue to have 37% of early educators in Massachusetts eligible for public assistance. We cannot make decisions about the K-to-12 side of this system without considering the implications for babies, toddlers, before- and afterschool, summer and school vacations. We cannot give access to consistent testing to people in one part of the system and not continue to think about the children and families, and [about] the [early education] teachers who are there every day with children.”

“We know that families don’t live in funding streams, but many of our decisions have been based on those funding streams.”

[Amy starts speaking at the video’s 1:00 time mark.]

— Amy O’Leary, “Reimagining Early Care and Education: A New American Vision,” A New America webcast, March 30, 2021

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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.”

(more…)

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Screen Shot 2021-03-30 at 10.07.35 AMHow are children and parents doing during the pandemic?

The University of Oregon has been using nationwide surveys – the Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development-Early Childhood or RAPID-EC — to ask families.

The goal is to “collect essential information from households and families with young children and to provide actionable data to key stakeholders to inform immediate and long-term policy decisions.”

Recent survey results – shared at an Alliance for Early Success webinar — highlight five topics:

• parent emotional well-being (stress, depression, anxiety, loneliness)

• child emotional well-being (fussiness and feeling upset, fearful, or anxious)

• economic situation/ability to pay for basic needs, including food, housing, and utilities

• child care challenges, including availability, perceptions of safety, barriers to access, preference for type of care, role of childcare provider, and

• pediatric healthcare: well-baby/well child visit adherence, routine vaccinations, barriers to access, plans for COVID vaccination

These challenges have a ripple effect, as this slide explains: (more…)

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“A historic amount of funding is making its way to child care centers across the country thanks to the American Rescue Plan.”

“Now that we’ve pumped money into the child care industry to help prevent its collapse, what comes next?

“For Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-MA), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), what comes next is the Child Care is Infrastructure Act, a bill they recently reintroduced. This bill marks a turning point when we move beyond months of focusing on relief and short-term damage control, and start recognizing the importance of child care as a fundamental part of our long-term economic recovery.

“The legislation doesn’t solve all the problems that plague the U.S. child care sector, but it takes us in the right direction. This bill’s title alone promotes an important framing of child care that is important for lawmakers and the general public to understand as our focus shifts from relief to recovery: child care is infrastructure. For the millions of women who have lost their jobs in the pandemic, having access to affordable child care — just like having access to roads to get to work — will be a determining factor for whether they are able to hold a job or not.”

“Child Care Is A Public Good. Our Government Should Start Treating It That Way,” by Rebecca Rewald, Cognoscenti, WBUR, March 24, 2021

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Screenshot: The Itsy Bitsy Zoomcast Project

Five months ago, in the middle of the pandemic, Elizabeth Charland-Tait and Sheila Gould launched a Zoomcast series.

They nicknamed it the Itsy Bitsy Zoomcast Project (IBZP), although the formal name is “The More We Get Together: Conversations that Build Bridges in Early Childhood.”

Gould is a Holyoke Community College (HCC) professor and the coordinator of the Early Childhood Programs. Charland-Tait is an early childhood lead coach for Massachusetts’ Western StrongStart Professional Development Centers.

Their goal is to have meaningful conversations that connect early childhood professionals in Western Massachusetts.

(more…)

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