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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 
The Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee has released its FY ’22 budget.

It’s a $47.6 billion budget proposal, that’s slightly higher, the Gloucester Daily Times reports, than the $45.6 billion budget that Governor Charlie Baker released in January.

“The House budget proposal calls for a 2.6% spending increase from fiscal 2021 and expects the state to collect $30.1 billion in tax revenue (the revenue drops to $24.3 billion after factoring in payments to the pension fund, MBTA and state reserves),” according to MassLive.com.

For early education and care, the House’s proposed budget specifics include:

• $358.9 million to fund child care for children served by the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Transitional Assistance

• $298.7 million in child care funds to support income-eligible families

• $20 million for a salary reserve to increase rates for center-based early education

• $15 million for Head Start

• $12 million for child care resource and referral agencies

• $5 million for pre-school expansion efforts

• $5 million for professional development opportunities, and

• $2.5 million for the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Grant (more…)

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The United States could build a universal preschool system in 30 years.

That’s according to NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research), which has come up with a two-part plan based on federal, state, and local government sharing costs.

“At its current pace and without federal government leadership, the United States won’t reach all children with free preschool before 2100,” NIEER Founder and Senior co-Director Steven Barnett says in a press release.

Currently, publicly-funded preschool in the United States serves only 1.8 million children, NIEER estimates. Most states, including Massachusetts, deploy their public funding to the mixed-delivery system of early education and care, which includes center-based programs, Head Start programs, and public school districts.

NIEER’s plan “calls on the federal government to match state and local-level investments in high-quality preschool for children under 200 percent of the federal poverty level. This focus will expand high-quality preschool to 2.5 million more low-income 3- and 4-year-olds by 2040.

“Building on this foundation, state and local governments would be able to expand their preschool programs to reach all 3- and 4-year-olds by 2050 and achieve universal high-quality preschool in all 50 states.

“The cost-sharing plan would enable states to set high preschool quality standards, provide children full-day preschool 180 days a year, and support competitive salaries for well-qualified teachers.” (more…)

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Fifty years ago, Sandy Faiman-Silva was a young, single mother with a teaching job who couldn’t afford to pay all her bills, including her rent and child care costs. She ended up quitting her job and going on public assistance.

Today, Faiman-Silva is a professor emerita of Anthropology at Bridgewater State University – and she’s an activist pointing out that too many women still face the same challenges she did all those decades ago.

Faiman-Silva shares this story on a video posted by the Cape and Islands chapter of the Common Start Coalition, which is advocating for a bill in the Massachusetts State House – nicknamed the Common Start Legislation — that would set up a system of affordable, high-quality, universal child care. This bill is particularly crucial now, as Massachusetts and the world navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Representative Susan Moran (D-Falmouth) also appears in the video. A mother of three and a lawyer who has represented a child care center, Moran says:

“I lived the daily trials parents suffer to find the consistent, dependable child care and early education they need — and their children deserve — to allow them to focus on work so they can advance their careers. You all know what I’m talking about.”

(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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“A historic amount of funding is making its way to child care centers across the country thanks to the American Rescue Plan.”

“Now that we’ve pumped money into the child care industry to help prevent its collapse, what comes next?

“For Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-MA), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), what comes next is the Child Care is Infrastructure Act, a bill they recently reintroduced. This bill marks a turning point when we move beyond months of focusing on relief and short-term damage control, and start recognizing the importance of child care as a fundamental part of our long-term economic recovery.

“The legislation doesn’t solve all the problems that plague the U.S. child care sector, but it takes us in the right direction. This bill’s title alone promotes an important framing of child care that is important for lawmakers and the general public to understand as our focus shifts from relief to recovery: child care is infrastructure. For the millions of women who have lost their jobs in the pandemic, having access to affordable child care — just like having access to roads to get to work — will be a determining factor for whether they are able to hold a job or not.”

“Child Care Is A Public Good. Our Government Should Start Treating It That Way,” by Rebecca Rewald, Cognoscenti, WBUR, March 24, 2021

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pexels-ivan-samkov-6816531

Photo: Ivan Samkov from Pexels

 

How, specifically, can the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan – a federal COVID-19 relief package — help child care?

Here are some new, national tools and reports that have good answers.

Infants and toddlers: Get details on the opportunities for infants and toddlers on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at noon, when the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center will host a webinar. The policy impact center has also released a research brief that says in part: “The American Rescue Plan represents an unprecedented increase in funding for programs that improve the lives of families with young children. From the expanded child tax credit to economic stimulus payments and billions more in child care funding, this law provides a buffer for families, workers, caregivers, and child-serving organizations during an economic and public health emergency.”

The brief also explains how the American Rescue Plan ties into the impact center’s early childhood policy roadmap, which we blogged about here. The impact center is based at the University of Texas Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Fixing child care – and making it stronger than before: Last year, Opportunities Exchange, an early childhood nonprofit, published Louise Stoney’s article, “REINVENT vs. REBUILD: Let’s Fix the Child Care System.” Stoney, the co-founder of the Alliance for Early Childhood Finance, writes about the financial instability that early education and care programs have faced both before and during the pandemic. Stoney also recommends a “Child Care Come-Back Plan” that federal Covid funds could support. This plan explains how “public and private sector leaders” can “effectively lead a child care come-back effort” that includes provider-based technology, business coaching, and new rate setting strategies. (more…)

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Photo: Gagan Kaur, from Pexels

We are thrilled that Congress has passed and President Joseph Biden has signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

This new funding will spread much needed aid across the country, and it includes $39 billion to rebuild child care. 

According to estimates, Massachusetts will receive an additional $510 million for child care. This investment is critical for stabilizing the state’s early education and care system.

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) “plans to use the federal stimulus funds as part of a larger set of grants to child care providers to ensure the viability of the industry, while also fostering innovation across the field to meet the evolving needs of working families and employers through COVID recovery period,” the department explains in its stimulus funds document.

(more…)

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Much needed federal relief for the child care sector is on its way to states. And President Joseph Biden says the investment could cut child poverty in half.

Last week, President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was approved by the Senate. The House is expected to vote on the measure by Wednesday morning at the latest.

The plan, which provides sweeping support for COVID-19 recovery, “offers a bold investment in child care relief, finally delivering on the promise of a total of at least $50 billion in direct relief funding,” according to the national nonprofit CLASP (The Center for Law and Social Policy).

 

 

(more…)

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Screenshot of a report from the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing

 

Faced with the devastation caused by the pandemic, the early childhood community has been asking how it can rebuild and become stronger than ever.

To facilitate this work, the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation (IEELI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston hosted a series of webinars last summer.

The webinars – “Reinventing Child Care in Massachusetts” – drew more than 700 early childhood professionals and other stakeholders who shared ideas for building an early childhood system that would be:

• high-quality

• accessible to all families

• able to provide professional compensation to educators based on their skill and experience

• able to offer professional and leadership development, and

• active in addressing racial inequities

Once the series was done, IEELI teamed up with Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing (NOW), part of Boston Medical Center’s Vital Village Networks, and the two organizations ran an Action Lab 90 Day Challenge.

The 90 Day Challenge is a tool that Vital Village Networks uses to promote “social connections, cooperative development of social innovations (co-design), team-based iterative learning, and collective actions by using an equity framework.” (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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