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Archive for the ‘Family engagement’ Category

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Screenshot: MIRA Coalition report

 
How well is Massachusetts reaching out to the nearly 481,000 immigrant parents who live in the state? The MIRA Coalition did a study to find out.

“The barriers faced by immigrant parents have been particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, as families have struggled to maintain access to state-sponsored early childhood programs, K-12 schools, community-based organizations and various social services,” MIRA says in a new report summarizing its findings.

“As remote learning requirements have forced parents to provide supplemental instruction and monitoring for online learning, parents who are limited-English proficient (LEP) have lower levels of education or digital literacy, have faced disproportionate challenges.”

The research focused on families in the cities of Lawrence, Brockton, Everett, Springfield, and Worcester. And researchers interviewed 80 service providers and policy experts.

Among the findings: (more…)

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“I feel a great responsibility to remember and think of the educators, program directors, family childcare providers, school staff, CEOs, and community leaders who have shown up every day for children and families to start with this pandemic.

“We continue to be inspired by this resilient workforce, but we know that is not enough. We cannot return to the way things were. We cannot call child care essential for the economy and then continue to have 37% of early educators in Massachusetts eligible for public assistance. We cannot make decisions about the K-to-12 side of this system without considering the implications for babies, toddlers, before- and afterschool, summer and school vacations. We cannot give access to consistent testing to people in one part of the system and not continue to think about the children and families, and [about] the [early education] teachers who are there every day with children.”

“We know that families don’t live in funding streams, but many of our decisions have been based on those funding streams.”

[Amy starts speaking at the video’s 1:00 time mark.]

— Amy O’Leary, “Reimagining Early Care and Education: A New American Vision,” A New America webcast, March 30, 2021

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Screen Shot 2021-03-30 at 10.07.35 AMHow are children and parents doing during the pandemic?

The University of Oregon has been using nationwide surveys – the Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development-Early Childhood or RAPID-EC — to ask families.

The goal is to “collect essential information from households and families with young children and to provide actionable data to key stakeholders to inform immediate and long-term policy decisions.”

Recent survey results – shared at an Alliance for Early Success webinar — highlight five topics:

• parent emotional well-being (stress, depression, anxiety, loneliness)

• child emotional well-being (fussiness and feeling upset, fearful, or anxious)

• economic situation/ability to pay for basic needs, including food, housing, and utilities

• child care challenges, including availability, perceptions of safety, barriers to access, preference for type of care, role of childcare provider, and

• pediatric healthcare: well-baby/well child visit adherence, routine vaccinations, barriers to access, plans for COVID vaccination

These challenges have a ripple effect, as this slide explains: (more…)

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“Over this past year, the devastating toll of the pandemic has underscored the critical importance of connecting what science is telling us to the lived experiences of people and communities.”

“Now, a year later, early childhood policies and services are at a critical inflection point—and the need to build a stronger ecosystem has never been more compelling. Longstanding concerns about fragile infrastructure and chronic funding constraints have been laid bare.”

“The science of early childhood development (and its underlying biology) continues to advance, and tenuous ‘systems’ that were in place to support families before the pandemic began need to be rethought, not just rebuilt. Early childhood policy must be about the foundations of both lifelong health and readiness to succeed in school. The reconstruction of a more robust ecosystem that forges stronger connections at the community level among primary health care (both physical and mental), early care and education, social services, child welfare, and financial supports is essential.”

“Re-Envisioning, Not Just Rebuilding: Looking Ahead to a Post-COVID-19 World,” by Jack P. Shonkoff, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University, March 10 2021

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The Common Start Coalition is holding a rally tonight to support last month’s filing of the Common Start bill – proposed legislation that would, as we’ve blogged, “establish a universal system of affordable, high-quality early education and child care for all Massachusetts families, over a 5-year timeline.”

You can RSVP here.

The bill’s lead sponsors — Representatives Kenneth Gordon (D-Bedford) and Adrian Madaro (D-East Boston) and Senators Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) and Susan Moran (D-Falmouth) — are expected to attend along with parents, providers, early educators, and business leaders who will discuss the importance of passing the Common Start legislation.

Please join the virtual effort! Tweet @CommonStartMA! And help rev up public excitement for high-quality early education and care!

Here are the rally flyers in English and Spanish: (more…)

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How have families been doing during the pandemic?

NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research) used a national survey to find out.

“The pandemic has dealt a one-two punch to the nation’s young children, decreasing opportunities to learn in preschool programs while sapping parents’ capacity to support learning at home,” W. Steven Barnett says in a news release. Barnett is NIEER’s senior co-director and founder and an author of the survey report.

The survey results were collected in December 2020 “from a nationally representative sample of one thousand and one parents of children age three to five.” This builds on a previous survey that NIEER conducted last spring.

“Overall, we found the pandemic resulted in significant loss of important learning opportunities for young children through the fall into December,” NIEER says in a press release.

“Participation in preschool programs declined sharply from pre-pandemic levels. Although most who attended preschool programs did so in-person, this was not true for young children in poverty who had less than 1/3 the access to in-person education of children in higher income families.” (more…)

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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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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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Sarah Mills

How do you go from being a preschool teacher to working as a legislative aide in the Massachusetts State House? 

For Sarah Mills, it’s all about loving the work of interacting with young children. 

In elementary and middle school, Mills enjoyed helping out with infants and toddlers who were enrolled in her public school’s preschool program. 

As a Syracuse University college student, Mills got a work-study job at her campus’ early education center. 

And when she came to Boston to attend graduate school at Simmons University, she needed to work full-time, so she found a job at KinderCare in downtown Boston where she spent half her time working with infants and half her time working in the afterschool program. 

“When I was younger, I just loved kids; they were so much fun to hang out with,” Mills recalls. “It’s really exciting being with kids who are ages zero to five because you get to watch them go through so many significant milestones, whether it’s their first steps or their first words. Being with kids at this age is truly joyful.” 

“Another wonderful thing is that you get to know the families. I had a lot of families with first-time babies, and so I had the responsibility of helping to educate them and helping them to feel comfortable, because it’s scary to drop your child off for the first time with people you’ve just met. And I was working before the paid family leave law. So I saw parents who had no choice but to bring children who were six weeks or 12 weeks old to our program.”  (more…)

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“What we know from the research on reading – and what was just confirmed by the national Reading for Understanding Initiative – is that kids need more language. They need more knowledge. And they need foundational mechanical skills to be able to read individual words automatically,” Joan Kelley says.

“The problems that are hardest to address later on are the language and knowledge gaps. Kids need high dosages of rich language, which is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year job for families and educators. But no one tells families what their specific role is or how to get this job done.”

So Kelley came up with an app for that.

An alumna of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Kelley has seen children struggle with reading for years – and so has the rest of the country. As we’ve blogged before, even in Massachusetts, a state known for educational excellence, third grade reading levels have lagged, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. We highlighted this in our 2010 report, “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” which Kelley contributed to.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made educational gaps worse by forcing districts to close schools and erode children’s learning opportunities. A study published by the American Educational Research Association says that students experienced a “COVID slide,” a more stark version of the “summer slide” learning loss that normally occurs when schools let out in June. The study estimates that because COVID-19 “abbreviated the 2019-2020 school year,” students would lose “roughly 63% to 68% of the learning gains in reading,” so only about two-thirds of what they would have learned if the pandemic had not occurred. (more…)

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