Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

“A child is born in Massachusetts… then what happens?”

That’s the important question that the new website EC 101 tries to answer for parents, providers, policymakers, and philanthropists who want to promote healthy childhood development across Massachusetts by mapping out the state’s many early childhood programs and resources.

Ideally, Brian Gold says, the answer to What happens after a child is born? should be that children “grow and thrive.” Gold is the executive director of the Massachusetts Early Childhood Funder Collaborative, a group of individuals and foundations that worked with the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy to create EC 101 (short for Early Childhood 101).

But Gold — as a professional, a former foster parent, and the father of a 15-month-old child — sees a clear need for more clarity.

To create this clarity, EC 101’s goal is to tame the state’s complex early childhood system by creating “a visual, accessible format that allows for clear understanding of the current conditions of the early childhood landscape.”

To do this, the website draws on feedback from parents, stakeholders, and experts as well as on state and national research to create an interactive tool that’s full of information. The website can also be translated into multiple languages, everything from Albanian and Chinese to Thai and Yiddish.

An EC 101 webinar is posted above.

One important distinction that EC 101 makes is that there are early childhood systems – and there’s a “non-system.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »

This past summer, Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child “welcomed Lindsey Burghardt, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, as our Chief Science Officer.” Dr. Burghardt “leads our efforts to translate the science of early childhood—particularly the science behind ECD 2.0—for key audiences in the health sector, from policymakers to pediatricians. As a practicing pediatrician herself, Dr. Burghardt brings a clinician’s perspective to this work.

“In recognition of Children’s Health Month, Dr. Burghardt shares her thoughts on the importance of understanding and supporting sound mental health, particularly for our youngest children.

“Q: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to tremendous challenges for both children and caregivers, including an increase in mental health issues and a lack of access to providers who can help. As a pediatrician, what are some of the issues you have been seeing in your own practice on this front?

“A: ​There have been so many strains on caregivers during the pandemic. In particular, many working families have struggled to maintain access to consistent, high-quality childcare, which puts incredible stress on both caregivers and young children. The childcare environment is so important for children’s healthy development—their relationships with immediate caregivers matter a great deal, but so do their relationships with providers in early care and education, as well as with other adults in their communities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put significant stress on an already strained system, with a shortage of providers and limited options for parents to balance caring for their children and working to maintain their income. I’ve heard from many caregivers that they are experiencing significant stress, and in some cases job insecurity, due to the lack of consistent childcare. For caregivers who work nontraditional hours such as overnight shiftwork, or for those who care for multiple children, the stresses can be even greater. I’ve also observed increases in behavioral challenges and anxiety, including among young children.

“Q: Amidst all these challenges, how can caregivers and providers help create environments that foster strong mental health for babies and toddlers in a post-COVID world?

“A: The role of caregivers and providers is critical in fostering good mental health, so we must support the needs of the adults who care for children, through both individual and systems level approaches. When we support adults directly and tackle the systemic inequities that challenge families and providers, we help ensure that children can develop in health-promoting environments.”

“Children’s Health Month: The Importance of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health,” Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, October 2022

Read Full Post »

What are the best ways for states to help young children?

The Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap has answers that were shared earlier this month at a virtual summit that drew “thousands of national and state leaders, scholars, and practitioners.” Videos of that event are posted here.

Released by Vanderbilt University’s Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center, the roadmap is an annual guide that draws on the science of child development. Specifically, the roadmap looks at:

• young children’s wellbeing

• proven, evidence-based policy strategies

• states’ implementation of 11 effective policy and strategy solutions, and

• how policy changes impact young children and their families, and how these changes reduce racial and ethnic disparities

Those 11 policy and strategy solutions are:

(more…)

Read Full Post »

pexels-pixabay-160917

Photo: Pixabay from Pexels

We’re excited to announce the launch of The Early Childhood Agenda!

This is a new partnership that invites stakeholders like you to build a consolidated agenda for early education and care. 

The Early Childhood Agenda will connect organizations, parents, advocates, businesses, educators, providers, and government representatives that all support the growth, development, and education of our youngest children and the wellbeing of families in Massachusetts through public awareness, policy development, and advocacy efforts.

Strategies for Children will host a series of meetings and facilitate a consensus building process composed of five working groups:

These meetings will produce a list of policy priorities shaped by community needs and the lived experiences and perspectives of our partners.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

52266852571_628555eee3_c

Photo: Huong Vu for Strategies for Children

The federal government has just released new Covid guidance for schools, camps, and for early childhood programs.

One key change is that people who have been exposed to Covid no longer need to quarantine.

“We’re in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools—like vaccination, boosters, and treatments—to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19,” Greta Massetti says in a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Massetti is a CDC senior epidemiologist. “This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”

Instead of quarantining, those who are exposed to Covid should “wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5.”

Educators and providers in Massachusetts can also refer to the state’s related guidance.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The fiscal year 2023 budget was signed by Governor Baker last week, and thanks to your advocacy, the budget includes historic state investments in early education and care!

Please take a minute to thank your legislators and thank Governor Baker for taking action.

The new budget includes: 

• $250 million in Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) Stabilization Grants – which ensures that C3 grants continue through December 2022 (visit the Department of Early Education and Care’s website for more C3 info)

• $60 million for a rate increase for early educators

• $25 million for a new Early Education & Care Infrastructure and Policy Reform Reserve to bolster the statewide system of care, assist families in navigating the early education landscape, and help early educators with costs associated with personal childcare

• $15 million for preschool expansion in the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative

• $15 million for resource and referral agencies

• $3.5 million for early childhood mental health, and

• $175 million for a new High-Quality Early Education & Care Affordability Fund [Outside section 180]

For a full breakdown, visit our budget page

And once again, please thank your legislators and thank Governor Baker for these much needed investments.

In addition to these critical investments, the Legislature had proposed additional early education and care investments in its Economic Development bill. And last week, Strategies for Children joined 70 organizations and 214 individuals in asking legislators to include these investments in the final “conference committee” bill. However, the formal legislative session ended on July 31st, and the bill was left in conference. We will continue to monitor the bill and report any future updates.

Read Full Post »

pexels-pavel-danilyuk-8422170

Photo: Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

What happens when a foster parent learns about an early learning center that’s willing to try a new approach?

Progress.

That’s the story Kate Audette tells about a child placed in her care by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), the state’s child welfare agency.

It was 2020, in the middle of the pandemic and after George Floyd was murdered, when Audette, who has been a licensed foster care provider since 2017, accepted the placement of an infant whom we’ll call Jordan to protect the child’s privacy. 

Audette was working from home at the time and planned to keep the baby home “until it felt safe for them to go to school.”

But she did take the baby to a neighborhood rally in support of George Floyd. The event was organized by Dorchester People for Peace. It was outside. Everyone wore masks. It felt safe.

It also turned out to be life changing.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

“A new Yale study found that child care programs in the United States that practiced child masking early in the COVID-19 pandemic (May-June 2020) experienced a 13% reduction in program closure within the following year, and continued child masking throughout the one-year study period was associated with a 14% reduction in program closure.

“The first-of-its-kind study of child masking, published today in JAMA Network Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Medical Association, followed the experiences of 6,654 center-based and home-based child care professionals from all 50 states during a one-year period (May/June 2020 through May/June 2021).”

“ ‘We have been seeing increased numbers of children, especially young children not yet able to be vaccinated against COVID-19, admitted to our children’s hospital,’ said Thomas Murray, associate medical director for infection prevention at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital and the study’s lead author. ‘It is heartening to know that following child masking recommendations for children two years and older may be an effective means for keeping young children in child care programs and potentially lowering their risk for COVID-19.’ ”

“ ‘It’s the disruptions in learning opportunities and care routines that harm children, not the masks,’ said Walter Gilliam, a professor of child psychiatry and psychology at the Yale Child Study Center and the study’s senior author.

“Research has shown that children two years and older can safely wear masks in child care settings. ‘It is our responsibility to protect our young children by providing them with safe learning environments,’ Gilliam said. ‘But we also need to remember that young children are incredibly observant. If they cannot see us smile with our mouths, they still will see us smile with our eyes or in the way in which we talk with them. Young children are incredible that way.’ ”

“For child care programs, masking helped minimize closures, study shows,” Yale News, January 27, 2022

Read Full Post »

“10:16 a.m. I turn to enter the main entrance where families drop off and pick up their children. In addition to the ‘Welcome to the ECE Center’ posters, I see decorative, healthful reminders from the CDC, such as how to properly wear masksstaying home when sick, and frequent handwashing, to make spreading COVID-19 less likely.

“10:17 a.m. I enter my code and open the secure door leading to classrooms and community spaces. All adults in the vicinity glance in my direction for just a second, wave an acknowledgement, and then, as if in synchrony, focus back on the children they’re working with and continue their group activities.

“In my first two minutes at this center, I have experienced some of the intentional and important work that local ECE providers engage in daily to keep early childhood environments safe and healthy for children, families, and each other.

“11:30 a.m. As usual, I’m in a great mood after being around babies and children! Traffic is unusually light, and as I drive, I reflect on the diligence of ECE providers and educators who continue to support their ECE communities during these challenging times.”

“Keeping Early Childhood Environments Safe” by Stephanie Knutson, Education Development Center, January 19, 2022

Read Full Post »

pexels-anna-shvets-4167544

Photo: Anna Shvets from Pexels

It’s a new year, but early educators continue to cope with rising cases of COVID-19.

What we’re hearing on our 9:30 calls, is that the early childhood field is struggling badly. Because of Covid, many staff members are at home recovering, so some programs will probably have to close classrooms this week. And while the National Guard is delivering rapid Covid tests to public school districts, this not true for early education programs.

“The health crisis continues to highlight so many inequities in so many of our systems,” Amy O’Leary, Strategies for Children’s executive director, says. “We cannot make decisions for one part of the education system and leave out another. We need the same commitment to early educators and staff that the state is making to K-12 educators and staff with COVID tests.

“This pattern has continued through the pandemic. It is hard to believe that we are here after two years – especially since many early education and care programs were open last week, meaning directors and educators did not get a break during the holiday.”

In a Boston Globe article featuring local early education and care directors and educators, Lauren Cook, the CEO of Ellis Early Learning explained how hard running programs has been. As the article’s headline states, this work has been “Really demoralizing and operationally very, very hard.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: