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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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Act now! It’s time for early education and care providers in Massachusetts to apply for federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has just released the application. Licensed providers can use their LEAD login information to apply here.

As we’ve blogged, the funds — $314 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Child Care Stabilization money – will be distributed through an accessible process.

Your program can receive up to six monthly payments to support operating costs.

In an email, EEC Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy adds, “This unprecedented influx of federal funds is aimed at providing short-term financing for child care providers to help sustain program operations despite enrollment fluctuations and ensure the continued availability of care in under-resourced communities.”

Who is eligible? (more…)

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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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“Child care is a workforce issue, and prioritizing investment in the following ways will help to overcome this barrier:

• Investments in the child care workforce. In the short term, states can offer incentives such as signing bonuses for child care workers to return to work, and retention bonuses for established early childhood educators. In the long term, continued education grants and apprenticeship programs to support early childhood educators can meet the incredible demand for quality child care.

• Supporting working parents. States can and should invest in their data infrastructure. By creating databases that monitor the type and supply of child care available to communities, families and child care providers both benefit.

• Investing in the business side of child care. Stabilizing and growing the child care industry is a must. Grant and loan programs to stabilize existing child care programs and launch new, quality options will prevent child care deserts from growing, promote innovation from providers, and increase options for families.

“Many states are already leading by example.

“Arizona channeled $300 million in federal resources into return-to-work incentive programs that include $2,000 bonuses for those who return to the workforce, three months of child care assistance for people with children who return to work after collecting unemployment benefits, and housing assistance.”
 

“States taking the boldest actions on child care should be national models,” by Cheryl Oldham, Opinion Contributor, The Hill, July 15, 2021

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Working mother

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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the United States to acknowledge how weak its child care system is – and how child care’s struggles can quickly create chaos for working mothers.

Abigail Usherwood, a Strategies for Children intern, explores this issue in the newly released policy brief, “COVID-19 and Gender Inequality in the Workforce.”

Even before the pandemic, Underwood writes, women establishing their careers faced more challenges than men. There is still a stubborn wage gap: nationally, for every dollar men earn, women earn $0.81.

Factor race in, Usherwood explains, and the problem grows worse.

“In the United States, Black women lag even further behind in terms of the gender wage gap. On average, for every $1.00 a white, non-Latino man makes, a Black woman will only earn $0.63.”

Factor in the pandemic, and it’s clear that women are under intense pressure from the expectation that they will “balance household duties, like child care, with career responsibilities, and, during the pandemic, remote schooling. All of these responsibilities compound, creating barriers for women to progress in the workforce.”

One economically devastating outcome is a gender-based workforce participation gap:

(more…)

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“President Biden’s proposal for free, high-quality preschoolfor all 3- and 4-year-olds would create powerful change in Massachusetts, one of the nation’s most expensive child care markets, educators and parents said.

“In a state where, despite its relative wealth and strong public school system, nearly half of children don’t attend preschool, mostly because they can’t afford it, universal preschool could help reduce the educational inequities that start long before kindergarten, they said.

“ ‘I honestly think it’s a game-changer,’ said Amy O’Leary, campaign director of Strategies for Children, an advocacy group. ‘The research tells us that for families who need more support, we see better outcomes in the short and long-term.’ ”

“In an address to Congress last week, Biden said his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan would add four years of free public education — two years of preschool and two years of community college — to the 12 years guaranteed to all children.”

“Biden’s universal preschool plan a ‘game-changer’ for Mass., but final version could look very different,” by Naomi Martin, The Boston Globe, May 2, 2021

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