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Archive for the ‘Family child care’ Category

“A major portion of Worcester’s childcare services are offered by home-based care givers known as family childcare providers, and COVID-19 has had a deleterious impact on these small businesses.

“Many of these providers, who open their homes and hearts to small groups of children, were forced to temporarily cease operations earlier this year and, as a result, now face severe financial challenges. This summer, Edward Street and Greater Worcester Community Foundation (GWCF) collaborated with the Commonwealth Children’s Fund (CCF) to provide grants to 85 local, high quality family child care providers, to help these businesses comply with the many new pandemic protocols required to safely re-open and remain a viable option for families returning to work.

“ ‘These, mostly women- and minority-owned, businesses did not have the scope of resources and support needed to navigate closures and prepare for the new re-opening regulations,’ said Eve Gilmore, Edward Street’s Executive Director. ‘They operate on razor-thin margins and many are struggling to stay afloat.’ ”

“One such provider is Gina Hamilton who, after receiving the funds, wrote: ‘I cannot explain how much this means to me and how this gives me some room to breathe. Last night, for the first time since our mandated shut down, I slept without nightmarish dreams.’

“Hamilton was able to purchase critical materials, such as a tent for outside play, an ultraviolet light air purifier, disinfectant supplies and a hand sanitizer dispenser, and to create a new check in station for families, in order to safely re-open. She was also able to apply funds towards her past due mortgage. These grants mean possibilities.”

 

— “Grants Provide Financial Assistance to Essential Worcester County Family Child Care Providers,” press release, October 5, 2020

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On streets across America, every night at around 6 p.m., child care programs shut their doors for the day — shutting out working parents who need late-night or early-morning child care programs.

It’s a problem that has grown more vivid as the COVID-19 pandemic reveals the fragility of the country’s child care systems. 

“In a resource-starved child care system, very few licensed child care providers can serve the child care needs of parents with schedules outside the old, standard, 9-to-5 business day,” Sandra Teixeira of the nonprofit organization New England United for Justice says in a new video.

The result, Teixeira says, parents get shut out of nighttime, weekend, and other off-hour jobs. 

That’s why a group of nonprofit organizations and labor unions convened by Community Labor United have launched a new initiative called Care that Works to transform child care delivery in Massachusetts.

The first step:

The “union-backed coalition, with help from the city of Boston, is launching a pilot program to provide childcare in the early morning, for workers in industries like construction that do not have standard work hours,” CommonWealth magazine reports. (more…)

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Jillian Phillips and her family. Photo courtesy of Jillian Phillips

 

Jillian Phillips is a working Massachusetts parent trying to navigate a pandemic. It’s a 24-hour-a-day job full of highs, lows, and a need for public policy innovations.

Phillips, a single parent by choice, has an 8-year-old daughter and twin sons who are 19 months old. Another daughter, who would be five years old, died in infancy.

Phillips had relied on her mother, a retired nurse, who lived with the family, to provide child care.

“If I hadn’t had my mom at the time, I certainly would not have gone on to have more children because I wouldn’t have been able to afford it,” Phillips says. “The cost of child care, especially in our state, is out of reach.”

Earlier this year, however, two tragedies struck. Phillips’ mother passed away unexpectedly, and the global pandemic exploded in the United States.

So Phillips had to manage her grief, take care of her children, and work full time. A social worker herself, she supervises social workers who provide early intervention services for families.

“I’ve found a rhythm, but I’m slowly drowning,” she says of her work, family, and personal responsibilities. “Thank goodness, my job is flexible. I can fit things in during the kids’ naps, after they go to bed, or before they wake up — which means I’m working all the time because there’s no other way to do it.” (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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In the face of COVID-19, Massachusetts has shut down early education and care programs and licensed some providers to offer emergency care for the children of essential workers.

To keep the field informed about the pandemic and about what emergency providers are learning, the Department of Early Education and Care has been holding a series of town hall meetings. Please check them out. Recordings of the meetings are posted here.

 

Screenshot of Department of Early Education and Care town hall recording

 

“I have been practicing family child care for the past 13 years in the Dorchester community.”

”Right now I currently have seven children that we are taking care of, and I enjoy it. I have a sense of community. I love what I do. And I wouldn’t dream of not being able to participate and do what I can. We all have to roll up our shirt sleeves and do the best we possibly can during this crisis.”

— Dorothy “Dottie” Williams, family child care provider, EEC town hall meeting, May 27, 2020

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“We know that no economic reopening or recovery will be successful if employees and working families do not have access to safe, affordable, high-quality child care for their children. We also know that we must think about the needs of children as we reopen the economy.”

— Amy O’Leary, EEC town hall meeting, May 27, 2020

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Samantha Aigner-Treworgy

 

On Wednesday,Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care, spoke at a virtual town hall meeting. Here are some excerpts of what she said. A recording of the meeting is posted here.

 

For the duration of the closure, we know that you are working to try to support your staff, your families, and yourselves, and sustain that work. And we are doing as much as we can to help with whatever is in our power to make sure that you have the resources you need to be able to endure this difficult and challenging time.”

“I want to assure you that all of the federal funding that is available to small businesses is available to for-profit, nonprofit, and family child care providers.”

“We also know that in addition to being a valuable educational resource for families and children, child care in this moment is also a critical resource for the economy, even the baseline economy that we have running right now.”

“We are building on the wonderful relationship that DESE [the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] has with WGBH to try to think about what kind of resources might be available to families.”

“The commitment I can make to you now is when the governor decides to reopen schools and child care, we will be thoughtful and supportive.”

 

Register here for another virtual town hall meeting with the commissioner that will be held on Thursday, April 16, 2020, at 3 p.m.

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

As the country struggles to cope with the coronavirus, a group of Massachusetts elected officials and their spouses have written a powerful Boston Globe op-ed that calls on Congress to support the child care industry with a bailout.

“COVID-19 has (rightfully) forced the closure of child care centers across Massachusetts. In doing so, it has forced a profound reckoning about the state of the American child care system,” the op-ed says.

The closures, as we’ve blogged, have sown fears and doubts and hard questions that do not yet have answers. And on Wednesday, Governor Baker extended school and non-emergency child care closures to May 4, 2020.

However, the op-ed says:

“One thing is clear: We can no longer afford to approach child care as an economic accessory. We must approach it as the oxygen on which every facet of our recovery will depend.”

The op-ed’s authors are Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and her husband Bruce Mann, a Harvard Law School professor; Representative Joe Kennedy III and his wife Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, the co-founder of Neighborhood Villages; Representative Katherine Clark; and Representative Ayanna Pressley and her husband Conan Harris, the principal of Conan Harris & Associates LLC Consultant Firm.

Exploring the bigger picture, the op-ed adds: (more…)

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Friends and colleagues,

We hope you are all staying healthy at this time of crisis.

Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker announced that child care programs in Massachusetts will close on Monday, March 23, 2020.

However, Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs will be available regionally to provide care for emergency workers and others. Check the Department of Early Education and Care’s website for guidance documents.

The governor also said that, “Child care providers would continue to receive child care subsidy payments from the state in order to ensure that the programs will be able to reopen once the crisis is over.”

Strategies for Children has been working with the early education and care community to collect and share programs’ urgent needs and to consider advocacy strategies for supporting early education and care providers right now — with an eye on the potential long-term effects of the coronavirus.

If you are an early educator or program director please complete this online form to let us know your short- and long-term needs. If you would like more information, reply to this email or contact Amy O’Leary at aoleary@strategiesforchildren.org.

Here are additional links and resources: (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

 

In Massachusetts, there’s a new state law on the books – the Student Opportunity Act. It calls on school districts to close the achievement gap by investing historic new state funding for education ($1.5 billion over seven years) in proven solutions.

One solution that districts can choose: high-quality early education and care.

Districts have until April 1, 2020, to develop and submit their plans for closing the gap to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley explained last fall that school superintendents have to work with school committees to develop:

“…a three-year, evidence-based plan to address persistent disparities in achievement among student subgroups. In developing its plan, each district must consider input and recommendations from parents and other community stakeholders, including special education and English learner parent advisory councils, school improvement councils, and educators.” (more…)

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Mayor Marty Walsh helps launch the Child Care Entrepreneur Fund Pilot. Photo: John Wilcox. Source: City of Boston Mayor’s Office Flickr page.

 

What makes child care work?

Mayor Marty Walsh decided to find out by asking the city of Boston.

“In 2019, we added an optional survey to the annual citywide census related to early education and care. We wanted to better understand how families access and experience care for their children ages five and under,” Walsh says in a new report on the results of the survey called, “Making Childcare Work: Results from a Survey on childcare arrangements and challenges.”

“The survey, conducted by the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement, found that more than one-quarter of stay-at-home parents, the vast majority of them women, couldn’t work” because they lacked child care, the Boston Globe reports. “Nearly 60 percent of those parents cited cost as the biggest obstacle. Parents of children under 2 had the hardest time finding available slots.”

The report’s other key findings: (more…)

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