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

Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker announced that the state will revise its COVID-19 policies, a move that includes good news for early education and care providers.

“…the Commonwealth is on track to meet the goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the first week of June,” a press release from the governor’s office explains, and “all remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted effective May 29.”

Massachusetts will also update its guidance on masks and face coverings to be consistent with recent mask updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, individual businesses and employers in Massachusetts will still be able to set their own mask rules.

On June 15, 2021, Baker will end the state of emergency that was triggered by the pandemic.

What does this mean for early educators?

The governor and the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC)are providing answers.

As the governor’s press release says, as of today, the Department of Early Education and Care will “no longer require masks for outdoor activities like recess.” This guidance will “remain in effect beyond May 29.” Children and adults should, however, continue to wear masks when they are indoors.

EEC also has a list of frequently asked questions regarding the current version of the state’s Child Care Playbook that provide additional useful information. Some partial examples are:

(more…)

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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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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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Photo: Gagan Kaur, from Pexels

We are thrilled that Congress has passed and President Joseph Biden has signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

This new funding will spread much needed aid across the country, and it includes $39 billion to rebuild child care. 

According to estimates, Massachusetts will receive an additional $510 million for child care. This investment is critical for stabilizing the state’s early education and care system.

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) “plans to use the federal stimulus funds as part of a larger set of grants to child care providers to ensure the viability of the industry, while also fostering innovation across the field to meet the evolving needs of working families and employers through COVID recovery period,” the department explains in its stimulus funds document.

(more…)

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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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