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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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Last week at the State House, early education was in the spotlight.

The Joint Committee on Education held a hearing and heard testimony on “bills related to Early Education and Care, Kindergarten, and Literacy.”

“During a virtual hearing of the Joint Committee on Education, child-care providers and advocates joined lawmakers in calling for systemic changes to an industry known for its harsh economic imbalance,” the Boston Globe reports. “Massachusetts has some of the highest child-care costs in the nation, yet the state’s child-care workers earn a median salary of $37,000 a year, barely a living wage for someone with children.”

Video of the hearing and a list of the bills is posted here.

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Among the bills that were discussed is the Common Start legislation (H.605S.362), which “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. Strategies for Children serves on the Common Start steering committee, and our executive director Amy O’Leary was one of more than 70 individuals who submitted written testimony in support of the bill. (more…)

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steps

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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webinar

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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“Workforce Solutions Alamo is providing a $55 million grant to expand a program easing the financial burden on San Antonio families.”

“ ‘(We are) really helping workers that are in restaurant, entertainment, hotel and those types of industries to have child care,’ said Jessica Dovalina, assistant human services director. ‘A lot of families don’t know this resource is out there.’ ”

“The city’s child care subsidy program could provide 12 months’ worth of free child care to those who qualify. Parents are able to pick any eligible provider throughout San Antonio, which can offer flexible options for those trying to make ends meet.

“ ‘Service-industry jobs can have hours that are not your traditional work hours, and so this really provides an opportunity for them to get support in that area,’ Dovalina said.

“City Council on Thursday approved the Workforce Solutions Alamo grant to bolster the program, which aims to help more than 5,000 families and children in San Antonio and the surrounding area.”

“New grant alleviates child-care burden for San Antonio’s service industry,” by Troy Kless, KENS 5, November 4, 2021

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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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Yesterday, a dozen early educators and leaders submitted testimony at a State House hearing of the Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission.

And there’s still time to email more testimony to the commission. To have the most impact submit your testimony by this Thursday.

The commission, as Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), a commission co-chair, explains on his website, “is tasked with investigating accessibility, affordability, and other concerns surrounding early education and childcare in the Commonwealth, and making recommendations to the state legislature for policy and funding solutions.”

Lewis adds:

“With a growing consensus among the public, the business community and policymakers that high-quality, affordable, accessible early education and childcare are indispensable, this commission has a unique opportunity to lay out a roadmap for bold, transformative policy action.”

Lewis is co-chairing the commission with Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley).

Among those who submitted testimony to the committee is Jessica Seney, vice president of the board at Charlestown Nursery School in Boston, who said in part: (more…)

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Mayor Kendrys Vasquez. Screenshot: The Instagram page of the Office of the Mayor of City of Lawrence, Massachusetts

 

Last year, in the middle of the pandemic, former Lawrence, Mass., Mayor Dan Rivera decided to create a $400,000 scholarship program for child care.

The program provided vouchers to low-income families. Some parents were essential workers. And most parents were earning salaries that were essential to their families’ survival.

Lawrence’s City Council approved the investment. But the funding was set to expire on December 31, 2020.

Fast forward to today, and the good news is that Lawrence is still investing in these child care scholarships.

Lawrence’s current mayor, Kendrys Vasquez, announced a two-year reinvestment and an expansion of the program, setting a leadership example that other cities can follow.

Mayor Vasquez knows the need for child care is real. One day when he was having lunch with his chief of staff and economic development director a constituent came up to his table to talk.

“She said, I had to quit my job because I cannot afford childcare, and now all I’m doing is Uber to be able to maintain my family and keep up with our expenses,” Vasquez recalled during a recent Strategies for Children 9:30 Call. The woman was relying on her mother to provide a few hours of child 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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