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Archive for the ‘Funding’ Category

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Screenshot: Child Care Aware

 
How can the federal government’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) help rebuild child care? Child Care Aware has listed answers on a comprehensive webpage with infographics and other tools.

“As an advocate, it is important that your voice is heard on how states use the funds from the ARP Act,” Child Care Aware says. “You know what policies implemented during the pandemic helped stabilize child care and what policies can help build a better system moving forward. It is important to ensure that funds are administered in an equitable, efficient and transparent manner.”

The goal for advocates: encourage states to use the federal relief funds in wise, strategic ways.

“Advocates will need to bring a list of policy suggestions for the state to consider supporting. One way to highlight the need for specific policies is through sharing stories collected from child care providers and families. They can use their own words to talk about the hardships they faced during the pandemic and which temporary policies helped them the most.” (more…)

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Thank you for advocating for high-quality early education and care in the Massachusetts state budget. 

Your advocacy has paid off! 

All $44 million at stake for early education and care was included in the conference committee’s FY22 budget, released last Thursday and passed by the Legislature on Friday. 

For early education and care, all line items received the higher funding amount between House and Senate budgets. This includes $20 million for a rate increase for center-based early educator salaries, $8.95 million for the Department of Early Education and Care’s parent fee sliding scale reserve, $12 million for child care resource and referral agencies, $10 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative, and more.

View our state budget webpage for details.

While we applaud recent federal stimulus investments in child care, and proposals for further investment in the American Families Plan, it is critical that our state leaders continue to invest state dollars into high-quality early education and care. 

Our early educators, young children, and families are all counting on us to help Massachusetts fully recover from the pandemic and build a stronger, more sustainable, more equitable early education and care system.

The budget has been sent to Governor Charlie Baker who has 10 days to sign it into law. He can also choose to make line item vetoes.

 Encourage Governor Baker to sign the budget into law and thank him for investing in early education and care. 

And please visit strategiesforchildren.org for more news, budget updates, and advocacy resources. 

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KIDS COUNT Screenshot

 

The new 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book is out.

Released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, this 32nd edition describes “how children across the United States were faring before — and during — the coronavirus pandemic.”

“This year’s publication continues to deliver the Foundation’s annual state rankings and the latest available data on child well-being. It identifies multiyear trends — comparing statistics from 2010 to 2019.” The KIDS COUNT data center provides more details.

This year’s good news: Massachusetts ranks an impressive #1 among all 50 states in overall child well-being.

The caveat: Massachusetts and all the other states still have to do substantial work to create equitable systems that serve all children and families and that provide access to high quality early education and care to everyone.

“The rankings in this edition of the Data Book, which are based on 2019 data, show that despite gains since the Great Recession, the nation was not ensuring every child had the opportunity to thrive.” (more…)

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“California will expand the state’s Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program to all four-year-olds if a current placeholder budget is enacted on July 1st. If approved, the state would phase in the program incrementally over three years starting in the 2022-23 school year.

“TK was started in 2010 as a new grade level in California’s public schools for four-year-olds with fall birthdays. California had one of the youngest kindergarten entry dates in the nation at the time, which meant children started kindergarten as young as age four. The new grade level was meant to rectify that problem, but it also created new inequities because it was only available to a small number of children.

“Now it looks like that’s about to change.”

“California Moves Toward Universal Pre-K,” by Sarah Jackson, New America blog post, June 21, 2021

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“ ‘This is a critical component to our success,’ Whitmer said. ‘Data shows that child care is the biggest single monthly expense for lower income working families with kids. So right now, we’ve got an opportunity in front of us, an opportunity to make an historic, long-term investment in child care.’ ”

“Lawmakers in the Michigan Legislature from both parties have been receptive to Whitmer’s child care proposal, with House Appropriations Chair Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, saying in a statement earlier this week ‘I am confident we will find common ground to move forward and make a real difference helping Michigan families meet their child care needs.’ ”

“Whitmer pushes plans for back to work incentive, increased child care access in Grand Rapids,” by Arpan Lobo, the Holland Sentinel, June 16, 2021

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Screenshot: New America

“Providers need predictable, stable, and adequate funding,” New America says in a new policy brief.

Instead of rebuilding the old system of funding child care slots for low income children based on children’s daily attendance, states should, as the brief’s title says, “Make Child Care More Stable: Pay by Enrollment.”

Now is the time to act because Congress has invested $50 billion in Covid relief funds for child care.

As the brief explains, the attendance-based subsidy system has two glaring flaws. Subsidies often don’t cover the cost of providing child care, and they often don’t provide enough financial help to families.

“In most states, many providers serving children eligible for subsidies are paid several weeks after services are rendered and the amount can vary based on individual child attendance and reimbursement rates, even though provider costs are not determined by how many days a child is present. This monthly variation makes it difficult to make informed decisions around budgeting, staffing, and enrollment.”

This “perpetual underfunding” and “fragmentation in delivery” result in “uneven quality and access to services” that “places financial burdens on families, and perpetuates inadequate wages for the ECE workforce.”

The national nonprofit Child Care Aware of America concurs. In a blog, Child Care Aware notes:

(more…)

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In a recent exhibition, the teachers at Charlestown Nursery School (CNS) shared the important lessons they’ve learned from leaving their building and running their preschool program outdoors in their Boston neighborhood.

The move to the great urban outdoors occurred last fall in the middle of the pandemic. Every morning staff packed supplies into red wagons and pulled the wagons to a local park that served as a classroom. Children arrived in masks and weather appropriate clothing. Being outside helped mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

How did it go?

The teachers say it was the best year ever.
 
Outdoor Exhibition
To heighten their point, they put together the exhibition — “The Qualities of High Quality: Why Reimagining School Matters Now More than Ever” – to engage policymakers in a discussion about access, quality, and how to optimize young children’s learning experiences. (more…)

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Working mother

Photo: Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

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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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Yesterday, the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means released its $47.6 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2022.

WBUR reports that, “Senate President Karen Spilka said the budget bill ‘seeks to put us on a stable fiscal footing and build a more inclusive and resilient commonwealth for all of us.’

“ ‘If the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic aftershocks have frayed the fabric of our commonwealth, this budget takes on the important but sometimes invisible work of stitching that fabric back together,’ ” Spilka told reporters.

The Senate’s proposal for early education and care includes more funding than Governor Charlie Baker’s FY22 proposal, but less than the House budget.

All three FY22 budgets are well below FY21 state budget appropriations for early education and care.

(more…)

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Photo: Keira Burton from Pexels

Child care has traveled a long way during the pandemic, as this New York Times article headline explains:

“How Child Care Went From ‘Girly’ Economics to Infrastructure.”

The article looks at the work of economist Nancy Folbre, a professor emerita of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 1998, Folbre also won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award because, “Her research on the family, on the work roles of family members, and on the relationships among those roles has challenged traditional economic theory.”

Or as the New York Times summarizes her work:

“You can’t measure the productivity of a child-care center the way you would, say, a car factory… The incentives are nothing alike. The profits don’t go only to the center’s owner. Instead, benefits are shared by children and their parents, and society as a whole. The country benefits from a more educated and productive work force.”

Folbre’s research stood in stark contrast to “mainstream economists, mostly men, [who] had argued that child care or other care work was something women did purely out of love, impossible to think about as an economic issue.”

The pandemic changed that.

(more…)

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