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Archive for the ‘Family child care’ 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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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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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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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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Photo: Ivan Samkov from Pexels

In early education, challenges can sometimes overshadow progress, but today we’re happy to blog about inspiring progress that has been made in the city of Washington, D.C.

The Under 3 DC Coalition, which shines “a spotlight on the need for more public investments to support families with infants and toddlers,” has announced that its efforts have led to an investment of “$75 million that DC will use to begin to publicly fund increases in early childhood educators’ compensation.”

Raising salaries has been an uphill trudge for the field, mostly resulting in small salary increases that lag far behind the earnings of public school teachers doing comparable work. Now, however, the coalition – along with its partners DC Action and Educare DC – have advocated for “a tax increase for individuals with annual incomes above $250,000.”

As Under 3 DC explains, “Building a sustainable workforce by adequate compensation is one of the first steps to create high-quality programs that are accessible to families.” (more…)

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Policymakers need to hear from experts.

That’s why Strategies for Children has created a Speakers’ Bureau, a group of 15 early educators who can talk to the media or testify at the State House.

These early educators were nominated by partner organizations. They represent the racial and geographic diversity of the field as well as the different settings where early educators work. And the early educators participated in a seven-session training program that was held on Zoom and covered:

• knowing your “why”

• Advocacy 101

• equity in early education

• public speaking

• working with legislators

• talking to the media, and

• a session for reflection

Funding was generously provided by the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation.

A key goal of the bureau is to unite early educators into an advocacy community. (more…)

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Photo: mentatdgt from Pexels

 
Massachusetts child care providers – get ready to apply for a federal COVID-19 relief fund grant!

The funds are coming soon, and they will help providers emerge from the pandemic and rebuild.

Based on feedback from the field, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is committed to creating an “accessible application process.”
 

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Strategies for Children

 
There are a number of ways that you can learn more about these grants before the application is released. (more…)

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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:

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Marcela Simpson

Photo courtesy of Marcela Simpson

All Marcela Simpson wanted was a part-time job to carry her through to graduation. She was living in her native country of Honduras and majoring in business administration at UNITEC, the Central American Technological University.

Simpson applied for a position at a school called La Estancia, a renown bilingual school where she met the school’s director, Ana Aviles, who assigned Simpson to be a lead teacher in a preschool classroom.

“That’s where it all started. I learned that I loved children,” explains Simpson.

Because her grandfather insisted, Simpson completed her Business Administration degree and came to the United States to get her master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she studied with George Forman, coauthor of The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education.

Simpson went on to work at the Winston Prouty Center for Child and Family Development in Vermont, an early education program that provides inclusive classes for both typically developing children and for children with special needs and rights. In this position, she worked with teachers, assistant teachers, and paraprofessionals providing them with educational resources and sharing opportunities for professional development.

“Based on this experience, I felt the need to learn more about adult learning,” Simpson recalls, “and that guided me to a whole different place.” She contacted the local Resource and Referral Agency in Western Massachusetts and they connected her to provide professional development and coaching opportunities. She also joined the Institute for Professional Education, where she learned more about adult learning theories and principles.

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