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Screenshot: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston website

The title of new article posted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston makes an optimistic point: “The solution is no secret, we can fix child care.”

Child care is broken, the article’s authors Sarah Ann Savage and her colleagues concede, but “child care providers, program directors, and other field experts know how to make high-quality care and early education accessible to all. It’s really no secret: Major public investment and committed political will are what’s needed.”

“The task is big, but it is not unprecedented,” the article adds. “It took both political will and public investment to implement our public K-12 system. And today there are bellwethers suggesting the time may finally be ripe to revisit our relatively minimal public investment in child care.”

This willingness and public investment would help address nagging challenges such as the high cost of early education and care, especially for low-income families.

“Models indicate that eliminating child care expenses for low-income families and capping child care expenses at 7% of income for others would decrease poverty by 40% among New Englanders in families that use child care. Covering or mitigating child care costs would also be a small step toward equity, as the poverty reduction is greatest for Black and Hispanic families.” (more…)

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Photo: Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

 
There’s some good news for early education in Washington, D.C.

The Build Back Better bill has been passed by the House, bringing it one step closer to becoming law.

Next, the bill will have to make it through the Senate.

As Representative Katherine Clark (D-Massachusetts) explains, this legislation is vitally important.

“The Build Back Better Act is a once-in-a-generation investment in families. It will help us recover today and rebuild a stronger tomorrow. With this bill, we are fundamentally improving the lives of workers, women, children, and seniors and ensuring that the wealthiest Americans and corporations pay their fair share,” Clark says in a statement.

“When I first ran for Congress, I had a dream that every child in America could have access to a great start through universal pre-kindergarten. With today’s bill, what was once a moonshot will soon be reality. What’s more, we are lowering the cost of child care for 20 million families and finally honoring our child care workers with livable wages.” (more…)

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Get ready for next week’s virtual State House hearing, where the Joint Committee on Education will hear testimony on “bills related to Early Education and Care, Kindergarten, and Literacy.”

To watch the hearing, tune in on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, at 11 am.

Want to testify? The deadline for signing up is the day before, Monday, November 22, at noon.

You can also email written testimony to Alice.Peisch@mahouse.gov and Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov. Please include “Education Committee Testimony, [Relevant Bill Number]” in the email’s subject line.

Need to learn more about the bills? Keep reading.

Strategies for Children will provide testimony in support of two bills. One is the Common Start legislation, a bill (H.605S.362) that “would establish a system of affordable, high-quality early education and child care for all Massachusetts families, over a 5-year timeline,” according to a fact sheet. (more…)

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Photo: Artem Podrez from Pexels

The new federal investment in early education and care promises to have a broad impact.

To explore the details, the Alliance for Early Success has shared a new webinar explaining what to expect.

The webinar’s Spanish interpretation is posted here.

“We are very, very excited about this,” Danielle Ewen says in the webinar about the new federal funding. Ewen is a principal at EducationCounsel, an Alliance member and an education consulting firm. “This is a major, major opportunity to change the trajectory of life for children and families and providers.

“When you look at the Build Back Better proposal, the early childhood provisions are the second largest piece. We have never been the second largest piece of a major piece of legislation, ever.”

Build Back Better is still making its way through the legislative process, so it may change somewhat. But here are some key components as they stand now.

Part of the bill addresses income and health care, including: (more…)

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Last week, President Biden unveiled a final framework for the Build Back Better Act that includes $400 billion dollars invested in child care and preschool.

Please sign onto this letter to support the Build Back Better child care and early learning investments by Monday, November 1 at NOON.

This legislation will:

• Provide universal and free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, the largest expansion of universal and free education since states and communities across the country established public high school 100 years ago. This investment will enable states to expand access to free preschool for more than 6 million children per year and increase the quality of preschool for many more children who are already enrolled. Importantly, parents will be able to send children to high-quality preschool in the setting of their choice – from public schools to child care providers to Head Start.

• Make the largest investment in child care in the nation’s history, saving most working American families more than half of their spending on child care. For eligible families who want to participate this means access to affordable, high-quality child care in a setting that best meets their needs. The framework will help states expand access to about 20 million children per year – covering 9 out of 10 families across the country with young children. For far too long, the child care system has been subsidized by the passion of the workforce. This legislation and funding will pave the way for substantial investments in educator compensation and see that providers are reimbursed for the true cost of providing high-quality care. (more…)

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SFC radio

Photo: RODNAE Productions from Pexels

This month, WHMP, a Northampton, Mass., radio station featured a discussion on early education on its podcast, “The Afternoon Buzz,” hosted by Ashfield attorney Stewart “Buz” Eisenberg.

This podcast episode welcomed three guests:

• Donna M. Denette, executive director of Children First Enterprises

• Keira Durrett, director of the Williston Northampton Children’s Center, and

• Clare Higgins, executive director of Community Action Pioneer Valley

All three are also regulars on Strategies for Children’s 9:30 calls, where we share the latest news on early education advocacy. Be sure to check out our 9:30 call webpage and sign up to join the call.

On the podcast, Donna Denette talked about the importance of child care as infrastructure, noting, “When we hear that we have to invest in roads and bridges, because people can’t get to work without roads and bridges — Covid made it very clear that people can’t get to work without childcare either.” (more…)

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Photo: mentatdgt from Pexels

The pandemic has taken a terrible toll on child care providers.

Fortunately, help is available. Providers can – and should – apply for federally funded Child Care Stabilization grants. All programs that are licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) are eligible.

Most important of all: Every program that applies and was open on March, 11, 2020, and is open now will receive funding.

The federal government has invested nearly $122 billion in Covid relief funds for K-12 schools.

Early education and care has received historic levels of relief funding as well, and providers should use these funds to stabilize and rebuild.

Most EEC-licensed programs have applied for the grant, but a small percentage still have not.

So here at Strategies for Children, we’re encouraging everyone to apply!

Strategies has been working with EEC to provide technical assistance in applying, and we’ve posted some helpful resources here.

To encourage everyone else to apply for the grant, we’ve shared the perspectives of providers who have already applied in two YouTube videos. (more…)

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U.S. Capitol
 
Now is the time to talk to Congress about the importance of child care.

As the country pushes through the pandemic and rebuilds, child care is sitting in the policy spotlight as a crucial resource that parents need to go back to work.

In addition, Wednesdays are #SolveChildCare Days for advocates, according to the First Five Years Fund, and there are easy quick ways to reach out to Congress that are listed below.

So far, child care has notable support.

As his Build Back Better agenda explains, President Joe Biden would ensure that:

• “no middle-class family pays more than 7 percent of their income for high-quality child care up to age 5”

• “working families most in need won’t pay anything—saving the average family $14,800 per year”

• universal preschool becomes a reality by “partnering with states to offer every parent access to high-quality preschool for 3- and 4- year-olds in the setting of their choice,” and

•the country would have “12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, to help improve the health of new mothers and reduce wage loss” (more…)

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Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Source: Screenshot U.S. Treasury Facebook page

Forty years ago, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen had the same problem that many of today’s parents do: Yellen needed a babysitter so she could go to work.

She placed a want ad seeking a sitter. Because both she and her husband were economists, they decided to offer a salary that was more than the going wage.

As Yellen explained last week in a speech about child care shortages:

“Classical economics says that it’s not rational to pay a worker more than the market rate, but we hypothesized it could be. The job might be an important one, for example, and a higher wage could encourage someone to do better work. That’s a completely rational reason to pay someone more, especially if the job is some of the most intimate work there is, which is caring for children.”

“Our hypothesis proved correct, at least in our own home. The advertisement led us to a babysitter who took wonderful care of Robert while George and I were at work.”

Today, parents face a far more dire situation. (more…)

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Tune in today at 1 p.m. to watch this school year’s first meeting of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

The meeting will cover a number of topics, including an update on EEC’s distribution of federal ARPA Child Care Stabilization Grants.

Now is a great time to catch up with the Board’s discussion of these important policy issues.

Last week at an emergency meeting, the Board voted to give Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy the authority to modify workforce regulations to help alleviate the ongoing workforce shortage.

Today the Board will hear EEC’s initial plan for these workforce modifications – a hot topic for the early childhood field. (more…)

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