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Archive for the ‘Early educators’ Category

Here’s an update on two of our Advocacy Network participants.

Stay tuned for more Advocacy Network updates in the coming weeks.


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Huong Vu

Huong Vu is a family engagement counselor at Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester – which is one way of saying she does a little bit of everything. She supports families in the Boys and Girls Club as well as families in the community. 

“We offer a free play group, a parent support group, and family engagement events,” she says of programs for families with young children, “and home visits and developmental screening.”

“Most of the families that we work with are low income or immigrants. English is not their first language. We work with families who speak Vietnamese, Spanish, Cape Verdean, and Haitian Creole. And they are not just from Dorchester, they’re from all across Boston.”

It’s work that has given Vu a great perspective on families and that makes her a great participant in Strategy for Children’s Advocacy Network, a year-long advocacy experience for early educators and emerging leaders.

One thing Vu has learned: “I didn’t know that I was already an advocate,” she says. “Every day, when it comes to work, my hope is that I can make small changes in families’ lives. Maybe I can connect them to a food program, or I can refer a child to an intervention program.

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state house

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Today the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee released its $49.6 billion state budget proposal for fiscal year 2023.

For early education and care, this budget includes several key provisions:

• $60 million in a salary rate reserve for providers who accept child care subsidies (line item 3000-1042). This line item also includes an additional $10 million for grants to early education and care providers for costs associated with personal childcare, a new initiative.

• $5 million for navigation support and outreach to families, including language continuing EEC’s recent policy of paying subsidies based on child enrollment instead of attendance (part of line item 3000-1000). 

• Increases for: Access Management (3000-2000, for resource and referral agencies); Head Start (3000-5000); and Workforce Development (3000-7066)

• Level funding for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (3000-6025) and early childhood mental health (3000-6075).

In total, the House budget proposal provides $91 million more for early education and care than the FY23 budget proposal that Governor Charlie Baker released in January.

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Cheyanne Nichter

Cheyanne Nichter and her son

This Spring, I will be graduating from Bunker Hill Community College with honors and an associate degree in Early Childhood Development. Over the course of the semester I have been working as an intern for Strategies For Children, exploring issues and opportunities in our field as well as my own abilities and passions. I have also reevaluated my goals and future pathways in both my academic and professional pursuits. As a result of the pandemic, and the fact that I live in a child care desert, I took on these challenges with my young son on my hip. 

During my time at Strategies, I saw first-hand how early childhood programs, families, diversity, sociology, research/data collection, and the pursuit of societal justice all intersect in the world of advocacy and engagement. This led me to do an independent research project that draws on my analysis of how the use of digital platforms and trends corresponds to social shifts, and how advocacy organizations can capitalize on digital resources to reach more deeply into the community. My presentation, “Modern Engagement: Making Advocacy Accessible”, covers how organizations can use interactive social platforms for effective communication and engagement. This approach uses modern communication tools and strategies that meet communities where they are, allowing them to access and participate in the dialogue and to use the advocacy resources within their personal bandwidth.

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Ever feel like you would enjoy having inspiring, high-powered friends who believe fiercely in high-quality early education and care?

Look no further than U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) and the advocates and leaders from the field who testified last week at a special hearing on child care held by the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP).

The video and testimony transcripts are posted here.

Murray opened the proceedings with a smart, sweeping, we-have-got-to-do-better speech.

The economy, she said, “isn’t just about numbers on a page and whether they go up or down. It’s about people across the country and whether they can get what they need, whether they can take care of their loved ones, and whether things are working for them and their families.”

And one thing families – and the economy – need is child care.

“So in short,” Murray added, “we’ve got an affordability problem, child care shouldn’t be an extra mortgage; a wages problem, child care workers are leaving the field for higher paying work; and an options problem, there just aren’t enough providers… This is not just terrible for parents and kids, but for our economy as a whole.”

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Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has created a promising new Office of Early Childhood, and this office has a new leader, Kristin McSwain.

The office will “advance the administration’s commitment to universal, affordable, high-quality early education and care for all children under five,” by:

• expanding access to early education and childcare programs

• investing in Boston’s early education and care workforce

• accelerating “the creation of a universal pre-K system that stretches across Boston Public Schools (BPS), community-based organizations, and family-based childcare programs”

• expanding high-quality, affordable options for infants and toddlers, and

• serving as “a central point-of-entry for residents looking for information on early education and childcare programming and wraparound services for young children and their families”

Mayor Wu, the mother of two young boys, sums up the vital importance of this work, saying, “Every bit of investment in our children and families to close gaps in early education and care is an investment in our collective future.”

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Last night, Amy O’Leary, executive director of Strategies for Children, spoke at the graduation ceremony for the City of Boston Childcare Entrepreneur Fund.

“The Fund offers support to current and aspiring owners of family childcare businesses in Boston. Fund recipients attend business training and receive grant funding for their business.”

Here’s part of what O’Leary said:

“We continue to be inspired by this dedicated and resilient workforce and their commitment to the problem solving, building partnerships and providing high-quality learning experiences under incredible circumstances.

“And YOU – tonight we celebrate you, the graduates of the City of Boston Childcare Entrepreneur Fund.

“You can change the world. All of the skills, gifts and talents you use to support young children can be used where you are sitting right now to lead. 

“The most important piece is that YOU have to BELIEVE.

“WE are the ones we have been waiting for.

“YOU ARE SMART, POWERFUL LEADERS FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES!

“We need to believe in ourselves and be willing to think differently about the future.

“It is critical that we find new, innovative, and meaningful ways to support educators and expand access to childcare for Boston families.”

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survey

Photo: Kampus Productions from Pexel

The Boston Opportunity Agenda, a public/private partnership, wants to know what early educators think.

Please, let them know by filling out the MA Early Education Professionals Survey. It is available in eight languages.

“Your responses will improve our understanding of the field and inform critical decisions about early education and care practice, policy, and funding,” the opportunity agenda’s website explains

Here are some frequently asked questions – with answers:

Who should take this survey?
Any early educator, assistant or administrator who has worked or is working in a center or family childcare.”

“What is this survey for?
We asked early childhood educators from centers and family child care, systems, administrators, researchers, funders, policymakers, and advocates about what information is needed right now to help make better decisions about the early education and care field in Massachusetts.”

“How can I be part of the process?
We want all early educators in Centers and FCCs to understand the results and how data can help you and the field. Please share your name, email, and phone number so we can communicate with you. There will also be a space in the survey for you to share what kind of information is important for you to know, as an early educator, business owner, or administrator.”

To learn more, go to the survey’s website or contact Pratima Patil at the Boston Opportunity Agenda. Her email is pratima.patil@boston.gov.

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This is a guest blog by Strategies for Children intern Jenna Nguyen. Jenna is a master’s student in the Human Development and Education program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and a Zaentz Fellow

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Jenna Nguyen

It has been an absolute pleasure and honor to be a Strategies for Children intern. Strategies has not only reinvigorated my passion for expanding equitable early education and care, but also opened my eyes to the urgency of this work at both the national and local levels. In order to create a coordinated, early childhood system that ensures access to quality programs for all children and families, we must be willing to address the huge disparities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, the fragility of the child care ecosystem, the provider shortages, the need for pay parity, and the need to provide more supports to educators and families.

The common threads that connect my current internship with my academic and professional work are that I have an enduring investment in advancing equity in early childhood systems, thinking about ways to build and sustain relationships across the early childhood community (which the 9:30 Call does so well!), empowering and elevating family and educator voices, and in making information more accessible and engaging. (more…)

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Samantha Aigner-Treworgy

For two and a half years, Samantha Aigner-Treworgy served as commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care, and here at Strategies for Children, we are grateful for her leadership.

Commissioner Sam, as she asked people to call her, has been a bold, innovative leader who has made transformational changes in a field that has historically been undervalued and overlooked. She stepped down today. And at the Department of Early Education and Care Board meeting , she thanked the field saying it was an honor to do this work. She has also shared this letter.

Her outreach and engagement with the field – with directors, educators, family child care providers, school-age staff, and families – has been unprecedented and inspiring. Through town halls, Zoom events, strategic planning sessions, and in-person visits, she connected with people across the state. 

She has also built partnerships with likely and unlikely allies, based on her belief that everyone can help leverage public and private resources to build a stronger system of early education and care.

And six months into her tenure, she faced the demands of leading through a global pandemic. This was a test of her professional strength and her problem-solving skills, and she met the challenge, developing policies that were models for the rest of the country. These include: 

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Photo: Yan Krukov from Pexels

How are early childhood providers doing?

In January, NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children) conducted a survey of 5,000 early childhood educators to find out.

The good news: “emergency federal and state relief funds have provided critical support for stabilizing child care programs and prevented more widespread permanent program closures,” according to the survey brief, Saved But Not Solved: America’s Economy Needs Congress to Fund Child Care.

The bad news: “severe challenges remain.” That’s because federal relief funds were not meant “to resolve the systemic challenges that have plagued the child care market.”

The informative news: We’ll hear more about the survey from Lauren Hogan, NAEYC’s managing director of Policy and Professional Advancement on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, during our Strategies for Children 9:30 Call.

The survey, which includes the responses of early educators “working across all states and settings—including faith-based programs, family child care homes, and small and large centers,” produced a number of findings, including:

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