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Archive for the ‘Dept. of Early Education and Care’ Category

Photo: Gustavo Fring from Pexels

 

There’s great news for the field.

Starting next week, on Thursday, March 11, early education and care providers and out-of-school-time educators can start scheduling their COVID-19 vaccines.

“Educators, assistants, and associated staff supporting in-person work with children will join the currently eligible groups,” Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care explains in an email.

“Early education and care educators and providers will be able to book appointments at all 170 sites currently open to eligible residents in Massachusetts and the Command Center will work on a plan to designate a limited number of days at the mass vaccination sites for educators specifically.”

One caveat: the supply of vaccine doses from the federal government is low, so “it is estimated that it will take up to one month for all eligible individuals to secure a first appointment. This timeframe is only subject to change if federal supply increases dramatically.”

The commissioner also has these answers to frequently asked questions:

• Saturday appointments will be a scheduling option

• eligibility will be verified through a self-attestation form completed by the person receiving the vaccination

• this eligibility only covers those who work directly with children and families; relatives of family child care providers can receive vaccines if they belong to other eligible groups

EEC will provide more information as they receive it, communicating directly with the field.

Aigner-Treworgy encourages anyone with questions about the vaccine and its safety, to check out these resources provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

To learn more, please read this press release from Governor Charlie Baker’s office and this article from the Boston Globe.

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Rosanna Acosta. Photo courtesy of Rosanna Acosta.

 

My name is Rosanna Acosta. I work in Springfield, Mass., as an early childhood educator in my own home daycare, Little Star Daycare. I have been in the field for four years.

The important part of my work is providing the foundational principles of education for young children in a safe and nurturing environment where they can grow and learn. I encourage parents and families to continue this education at home and to nurture their children to support their growth and development.

As an educator, I am always proud when I see my students grow each and every day. One of my favorite memories is when I went grocery shopping once and was hugged by one of my past students who said how much they’ve missed me. The parents told me that even after leaving my program, their child would talk about me and the things they learned and did. This showed me that my work really has an impact on the lives of my students. Regardless of the time that has passed, their early education experiences stick with them as they get older.

My own education started in the Dominican Republic, where I went to elementary and middle school. My family migrated to the United States, where I earned my GED. In 2020, I decided to go back to school, and now I am continuing my education at Springfield Technical Community College, where I am working on earning my CDA (Child Development Associate) certification as well as an associate degree in Early Education Childhood Development. I am also participating in a professional development program. We meet regularly every two months to discuss new activities and developments. (more…)

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Universal child care just got a boost in Massachusetts where a new bill – nicknamed “The Common Start Legislation” – was filed yesterday at the State House.

The bill would “establish a universal system of affordable, high-quality early education and child care for all Massachusetts families, over a 5-year timeline.”

This universal system “would cover early education and care for children from birth through age 5, as well as after- and out-of-school time for children ages 5-12, and for children with special needs through age 15.”

The bill is backed by the Common Start Coalition, a “statewide partnership of organizations, providers, parents, early educators, and advocates” that includes Strategies for Children. A press release is posted here. And a fact sheet explains some of the logistics.

The bill was filed in the House (HD.1960) by Representatives Kenneth Gordon (D-Bedford) and Adrian Madaro (D-East Boston). The Senate version (SD.1307) was filed by Senators Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) and Susan Moran (D-Falmouth).

The Department of Early Education and Care would be responsible for administering the program. (more…)

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Early education and care has a new local champion, the Massachusetts Business Coalition for Early Childhood Education.

Launched this week by 70 Massachusetts CEOs and business leaders, the coalition is, as its website explains, “responding to overwhelming data and research showing a long-standing child care sector crisis, now being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The coalition’s goal is to “to make early childhood education more accessible, affordable, and stable for Massachusetts workers, more rewarding for early childhood professionals, and a point of differentiation in attracting and retaining a strong workforce across the Commonwealth.”

Specifically, the coalition will:

• advocate for state and federal government policies and programs to support “the early childhood education needs of the Massachusetts workforce”

• identify opportunities for strategic action and investments in improving access and affordability as well as program quality and stability

• explore best practices for supporting the early education and care needs of employees, and

• acknowledge that communities of color and working women disproportionately face the impact of poor access to child care and low program quality — and support efforts to advance equitable child care solutions (more…)

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Screenshot: Department of Early Education and Care portal

 

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has a strategic plan – and EEC needs your help to turn the plan into action.

“The strategic plan was co-developed with over 11,000 residents of Massachusetts – their ideas, feedback, concerns, and expertise led directly to each strategy we will undertake,” EEC explains on the new strategic plan portal. The plan was approved last year by EEC’s Board.

The next step is community engagement.

EEC has a list of these events on its portal. Tonight and Thursday night, for example, there is a family child care “Licensing Regulatory Review” feedback session. Additional licensing sessions will cover out-of-school time programs as well as programs that operate child care programs for children ages 0-5 and for school-age children and youth. (more…)

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Photo: Pixaby from Pexels

The pandemic has forced schools to offer remote learning.

Now Massachusetts is promoting high-quality remote learning. State educational officials have put together a four-part webinar series focusing on children in preschool-through-third-grade classrooms.

Register today for Part II, which is tonight at 6:00 p.m. This webinar will focus on building strong collaborations between public schools and community-based programs.

Launched last week, the series – sponsored by the Executive Office of Education, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and the Department of Early Education and Care – covers a range of topics. (more…)

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Across Massachusetts, after closing because of the pandemic, early education and care providers have been reopening, navigating the challenges created by COVID-19.

“We still are ahead of many, many states in our reopening capacity,” Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care, said at a recent department board meeting, public radio station WBUR reports. “While that is really great, what we’re hearing back is many of those [providers] are at a level of vulnerability that could easily put us behind the country quickly as well.”

WBUR adds:

“Eighty-two percent of the state’s licensed providers reopened as of Nov. 23, according to the latest survey from the Department of Early Education and Care. But, many providers told the state that reopening has come with a slew of financial challenges. Many reported struggles to find qualified staffers, or families to fill available slots. Some were forced to contend with the costs of temporary closures because of suspected or confirmed exposure to the coronavirus.” (more…)

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A few months before the pandemic hit, the University of Massachusetts Boston conducted a survey of the early education and care workforce.

The survey results are a pre-pandemic snapshot of a shaky situation that policymakers can use to understand the toll that the pandemic has taken on providers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that early care and education is a key piece of infrastructure for the economy,” Anne Douglass, the executive director of UMass Boston’s Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, says in a blog post. “Parents need early care and education options that are high quality and affordable because when child care isn’t available, parents can’t work.”

The institute released a report on the survey results along with UMass Boston’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy and its Center for Social Policy. The survey was commissioned by the Department of Early Education and Care.

One important lesson from the survey, Douglass says, is that “returning to pre-pandemic ways of doing business is not an option.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Your advocacy has paid off!

Last week, the Massachusetts House and Senate passed the Conference Committee’s state budget proposal for fiscal year 2021. The budget includes substantial public investments in early education and care, a sector that has lost so much due to the ongoing pandemic, but nonetheless remains resilient, hopeful, and as essential as ever.

Today, we are asking you to take two actions:

Email Governor Charlie Baker today! Encourage him to sign the FY21 state budget into law and thank him for his continued investments in high-quality early education and care.

Then:

Thank your state legislators for their historic investments in early education and care in the FY21 state budget.

The Conference Committee budget funds the higher dollar amounts for each line item in the House and Senate budgets. This includes a $40 million sliding fee scale reserve to help reduce parent fees; a $25 million reserve for Coronavirus-related support for early education programs and for the workforce; a $20 million rate increase for early educator salaries in subsidized programs; $15 million for Head Start; $5 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative; and more.

For more details, visit our state budget webpage.

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On Monday, Governor Charlie Baker announced new COVID-19 restrictions, issuing an advisory that asks everyone over age 5 to wear masks whenever they go outside.

BUT: This rule does not apply to early education and care programs.

As Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), explains in an email:

“Please note that EEC licensed programs are exempted from the Executive Order and should continue to abide by and adhere to the Minimum Requirements for Health and Safety regarding mask use for adults and children.”

 

 

The commissioner adds:

“Programs should encourage families and staff to abide by these new requirements outside of child care to help keep facilities and our communities safe.

“Let me also take a moment to say thank you to all of the educators and professionals in this state who have found different ways to encourage children to wear their masks — health heroes, kindness super heroes, germ defenders, social stories, and, frankly, just leading by example. We are all in this together, children included.”

To learn more, sign up to receive official EEC emails from the Commissioner’s Office List.

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