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Webinar screenshot of Donna Warner, Dorothy Williams, Dr. Annie Vaughan, Amy O’Leary, Dr. Faye Holder-Niles, Sandra Fenwick, and Samantha Aigner-Treworgy.

 

How can early childhood programs get sound advice about reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic?

By talking to doctors who know about viruses.

Don’t know any infectious disease specialists?

No problem.

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is already talking to doctors, thanks to a partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital. And EEC is sharing what early childhood providers need to know in a newly released webinar (the password is: 2V=9y215) on the physical and mental health needs of young children.

Sandra Fenwick, CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital, introduces the webinar, which features a panel discussion that’s moderated by Amy O’Leary, director of the Early Education for All Campaign at Strategies for Children.

In the webinar, EEC Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy also thanks Children’s Hospital for its partnership, and acknowledges the many questions that early childhood providers have, chief among them: (more…)

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“At the family child care center she runs out of her Dorchester home, Dottie Williams has started asking parents to send teddy bears along with their kids.

“Ms. Dottie’s NeighborSchool serves children between five months and four years old, an age range for which Williams said touch is an important way of bonding. To translate the ritual of a hug to the COVID-19 era, she now asks the kids to hug their own teddy bear while she hugs hers.

“ ‘Children are very, very creative, and when you’re creative with them, they can adjust,’ Williams told lawmakers Tuesday.

“As advocates and child care providers continue to call for an infusion of public funds to help the industry cope with added costs and lost revenue associated with providing care during a pandemic, stuffed animal-facilitated hugs are among several short-term adjustments speakers highlighted during the Education Committee’s virtual oversight hearing.”

 

“COVID-19 forcing innovation at child care centers: Ripple effects linger as key industry is strained,” by Katie Lannan, State House News Service story in The Salem News, Jul 7, 2020

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“The critical role that childcare plays in society has never been more apparent. But as decisions get made about reopening guidelines and adult-child ratios, are we forgetting the rights of children and of those who care for them? (more…)

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The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is listening. So the field has to keep talking.

Last week, EEC released reopening guidelines, a 32-page document outlining minimum requirements for health and safety. Almost immediately, early educators and child care providers raised a number of concerns.

In response, EEC has updated its guidelines.

“I know there is uncertainty and anxiety. I assure you EEC’s approach is meant to be supportive. We intend for providers to be having conversations with parents—collaborating together on how to put in place protective measures that meet children’s developmental needs as well as keep staff and families safe,” EEC Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy said in a letter to the field.

“Please note that all programs may choose when to reopen. It will remain up to individual programs to assess their readiness to implement the reopening requirements.”

EEC’s “Reopening Process Overview” provides a three-point timeline. (more…)

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Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released long-awaited reopening guidelines for the state’s child care programs: “Massachusetts Child and Youth Serving Programs Reopen Approach: Minimum Requirements for Health and Safety.”

Programs can reopen in Phase 2 of the state’s four-phase rollout. The exact date for reopening will depend on an ongoing analysis of the state’s COVID-19 data. The guidelines are being released now so that programs can plan for the operational changes they will need to make – and so that they can share these changes with families.

The reopening guidelines set high standards for health and sanitation that should protect children and staff. These standards were developed by an inter-agency working group of education, human services, and public health officials, and they were reviewed by medical experts at Boston Children’s Hospital.

As The Boston Globe reports, “…child care centers can begin to submit plans for reopening as soon as they satisfy newly released health and safety guidelines.” Massachusetts’ planning requirements are more thorough than those of most other states. (more…)

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House Speaker Robert DeLeo at Advocacy Day in the State House in 2014. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

“We all understand that a key component of any recovery is access to safe child care.

“Through our work together over the years with the EEC Workforce Task Force and championing innovative new models in order to foster increased coordination between early education programming and health care, the House of Representatives has stood by our Early Education and Care providers and most vulnerable children. We have focused on this sector in order to prioritize the health and wellbeing of children, today and beyond.

“With your help, the Early Education and Care Business Advisory group also made key recommendations including a multi-year action plan for targeting investments that strengthened our EEC efforts in Massachusetts. And the House has lived up to our commitment. We led the way to provide more than $60 million in unprecedented increases to support the workforce and improve programs for the most at-risk children.

“Now COVID-19 threatens that progress. Providers will need to consider new health and safety protocols, which will likely affect the overall capacity of the system. I am pleased to announce that Chair Peisch, informed and supported by the work of Chair Ferrante, will spearhead a newly-formed Early Education and Care Recovery Advisory Group to ensure businesses and providers are prepared to support families and workers in this new landscape. The group will look at how health protocols will impact childcare, examine the financing models for programs amid tremendous change, and explore the effect the pandemic has had on programs in communities of color and those throughout the sector.”

 

— House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s prepared remarks to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, May 21, 2020

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

“What Will Child Care Look Like In Our New Normal?” WBUR’s Radio Boston show asked this week.

Featured on the show were Sandy Emery, the owner of Sandy’s Tiny Tykes in Haverhill and Emma LaVecchia, co-founder of Pine Village Preschool — as well as Amy O’Leary, director of the Early Education for All Campaign at Strategies for Children.

Setting the policy stage, Amy explained that, “The Governor working alongside the Commissioner of Early Education and Care closed child care. Many states never made this choice… So with closing chid care and then opening in emergency sites, we are seeing an opportunity, as we think about reopening, [to think] about what it looks like to reopen stronger than we were before.”

Check out the rest of the segment and leave a comment sharing your experiences.

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“Thank you for being a wonderful teacher to teach everybody in our classes!”

 

Ellis Memorial Facebook page, May 7, 2020

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Senator Elizabeth Warren talks to a very young constituent. Source: Senator Warren’s Instagram account

 

“I just want to start by thanking you for all the work you’re doing to keep children safe and to support our community,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said Friday when she joined a Strategies for Children Zoom call, adding:

“This is an unprecedented time for our communities, for our nation, for the entire world — and a time when it is so easy for the most vulnerable, the ones who don’t have their own lobbyists in Washington to get left behind.”

In a lively, inspiring conversation, Warren shared details about the $50 billon child care bailout bill she co-filed with Senator Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) to help the early education and care field survive the coronavirus pandemic and thrive afterwards. Warren also listened to questions and feedback from providers.

“I know that a lot of you on this call have concerns about how the childcare market is going to make it through this very challenging situation. And that is the reason why I’m fighting so hard to help every child care provider weather this crisis and come out on the other side stronger than ever before,” Warren said.

“We’re fighting in Congress to make sure that the funding is there, so that when it’s safe, every child care provider is able to reopen their doors.”

Warren has a three-part plan for the field: (more…)

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Source: Department of Early Education and Care

 

At a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday, Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy shared plans for reopening Massachusetts’ early childhood programs.

A recording of the event is posted here.

“We’re looking toward the future and trying to think [about] and design strategies that can ensure that we are building a more supportive and more solid foundation for child care providers,” Commissioner Sam said at the town hall.

She is proposing a phased opening that builds on Governor Charlie’s Baker’s order that all schools and EEC programs remain closed through June 29, 2020.

As the slide below explains, EEC will engage in a three-step reopening process of assessing the EEC landscape, designing strategies that “addresses health and safety, sustainability, workforce, and financing,” and preparing to put these strategies into action. (more…)

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Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker announced that public and private schools would be closed for the rest of the school year.

He also announced that the state’s child care closures would remain “in place until June 29, 2020, and may be extended as needed.”

“We know that the lack of child care for many families has created an unanticipated burden and it’s hard to look after young children and balance the demands of working at home under the same roof, but maintaining this structure is the best way to keep our kids and our providers safe from the spread of this insidious disease,” Baker said, according to the State House News Service. “In the coming months, we’ll be working toward slowly restoring child care capacity for both family child care and center-based programs once it can be done safely.”

Department of Early Education and Care Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy also spoke, thanking providers for their hard work. (She appears at the 27:39 timestamp in the video above.)

“The providers across the commonwealth have stepped up to serve our essential workers, and their commitment to children and families has really been the backbone of the essential workforce as we navigate this complicated time,” the commissioner said. (more…)

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