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Archive for the ‘MA governor’ Category

The Covid testing announcement starts at the 15:27 time mark.

 

Good news on Covid testing was announced yesterday:

“Early education providers in Massachusetts will soon be able to access COVID-19 testing at eight sites through a new state pilot program and will be able to order protective equipment at no cost, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said Monday,” a State House News article published by MassLive.com reports.

As we blogged earlier this month, Governor Charlie Baker had announced a Covid testing plan that only covered K-12. To address this inequity, Strategies for Children and 250 other organizations sent a letter to the governor, which said in part:

“The Commonwealth cannot continue to deny early education and care and after-school staff, students, and families the critical health and safety supports provided to K-12 schools.”

Now, we want to thank the Baker administration for listening and taking action. (more…)

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Screenshot: Early educator Camila Pontes 

 

Earlier this month, Governor Charlie Baker overlooked the needs of young children and their families as well early childhood programs when he announced that rapid COVID-19 testing would be available to K-12 schools, but not early education and care and afterschool programs.

Since then, advocates — including Strategies for Children and 250 other organizations – have sent a letter to the governor asking him to reconsider this decision.

Last week, Strategies for Children and Neighborhood Villages also hosted a panel discussion on this pressing issue, “Prioritizing COVID-19 Testing in Early Education and Care.” A recording of this event is posted here.

“… equity demands that public health measures made available to K-12 [schools] also be applied to early education and afterschool as well,” Binal Patel says in her introduction to the panel discussion. Patel is Neighborhood Villages’ Chief Program Officer.

“We know that testing works. It catches positives [test results] before teachers enter classrooms. And it allows us to identify and address potential exposures early.” (more…)

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Photo: Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

 

Please ask Governor Charlie Baker for equity in COVID-19 testing. And check out a panel discussion on testing being held this afternoon. It’s organized by Neighborhood Villages and co-sponsored by Strategies for Children.

Last week, the governor announced that COVID-19 pooled testing would be made available to the state’s schools and school districts, building on earlier testing.

“This new pooled testing resource that we’re going to be providing going forward will give districts the ability to bring more students back into the classroom,” the governor said, according to WBUR.

Unfortunately, this announcement leaves out early education and out-of-school time providers, even though these organizations have been providing essential care for more than 100,000 children.

To address this inequity, Strategies for Children and 250 other organizations sent a letter to the governor, writing in part: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

“We recommit ourselves to achieving racial equity in early childhood and school-age programs through advocacy, action, and policy change. Together we will stand up, speak out, and work to dismantle the historical systems of racism and inequity.”

These are the last two lines in our Collective Statement on Racial Justice that over thirty organizations signed on to in June 2020.

As we reflect on the horrific events this week – a violent assault on our democracy – we must redouble our efforts to work for the change we want to see in local communities, in Massachusetts, and across our country. 

NAEYC has resources on trauma, stress, and violence for early childhood educators working to support children in many different settings along with the guidance in NAEYC’s Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education position statement to support your conversations with them, as well as families and colleagues. If you need more resources or would like to sign your organization on to our Collective Statement, email us.

Despite the trauma of this week, democracy continues. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Extending from Tuesday’s deadline to the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the 2019-2020 state legislative session has come to a close. Wednesday also saw the beginning of the first day of the 2021-2022 legislative session, as legislators were sworn into office.

Where does the final FY21 state budget stand? This budget includes much-needed investments in the child care sector, to help mitigate the ongoing effects of the pandemic. The FY21 state budget includes a $165 million (25 percent) increase for early education and care over FY20 spending amounts.

Governor Baker had signed the budget into law on December 11, making several vetoes including $16.5 million in vetoes to early education and care line items. However, by Monday, the Legislature had voted to override all of the early education vetoes.

Here’s a recap of what the final FY21 budget for early education and care: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Your advocacy has paid off!

Last week, the Massachusetts House and Senate passed the Conference Committee’s state budget proposal for fiscal year 2021. The budget includes substantial public investments in early education and care, a sector that has lost so much due to the ongoing pandemic, but nonetheless remains resilient, hopeful, and as essential as ever.

Today, we are asking you to take two actions:

Email Governor Charlie Baker today! Encourage him to sign the FY21 state budget into law and thank him for his continued investments in high-quality early education and care.

Then:

Thank your state legislators for their historic investments in early education and care in the FY21 state budget.

The Conference Committee budget funds the higher dollar amounts for each line item in the House and Senate budgets. This includes a $40 million sliding fee scale reserve to help reduce parent fees; a $25 million reserve for Coronavirus-related support for early education programs and for the workforce; a $20 million rate increase for early educator salaries in subsidized programs; $15 million for Head Start; $5 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative; and more.

For more details, visit our state budget webpage.

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Photo: EVG Culture at Pexels

 

Last month, Governor Charlie Baker announced the launch of a COVID-19 rapid testing program for public school districts, charter schools, and other educational settings.

Unfortunately, Phase 1 of this program leaves out early education and care providers.

To address this omission, Amy O’Leary, director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All Campaign, has written a letter to the governor, which says in part:

We ask for equity and to be recognized and supported as essential infrastructure.”

Programs licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) need rapid testing “to mitigate virus spread for children, families and staff” and “to remain sustainable and open.” But, despite months of advocacy, rapid testing requests from child care providers have gone “largely unanswered.”

Public radio station WBUR looked at the COVID-19 challenges that EEC programs face.

“As more people get COVID-19 across the state, it’s inevitable that cases will pop up in preschools and child care, despite health precautions such as wearing masks and rigorous cleaning,” WBUR reports.

“That’s what happened at Nurtury, which operates six centers and supports 130 family child care providers in Greater Boston. Since they reopened their facilities in July, they have had a few isolated cases of the coronavirus. The daily health screenings usually caught any potential cases before a child or caregiver came through the doors.

“But in late October, that changed… A teacher at one location had tested positive. At a different location, a parent had COVID-19. A third site: another positive teacher.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

It has been a turbulent year for state budget proceedings in Massachusetts. The fiscal year 2021 budget has been delayed since July due to the pandemic. Instead of a full budget for the entire year, the state has passed monthly budgets which essentially extend the fiscal year 2020 budget one month at a time. There was also a supplemental budget for the FY20 fiscal year, which Governor Baker signed on July 24, 2020. That budget included critical funding related to COVID-19 relief for early education and care, including $45.6 million in federal CARES Act funding used for child care reopening grants.

In October, Governor Baker released his revised FY21 budget proposal, which he had originally released in January. This budget preserved and increased funding for early education and care, while also proposing a new Early Education COVID Recovery Fund.

Now in November, the FY21 budget is rapidly coming together. The House passed its budget last week; it contains much needed funding for early education and care, including a $20 million rate increase for early educators and $10 million for a reserve to reduce fees for parents enrolling in subsidized child care. The House budget also earmarks up to $50 million in the two child care access accounts for COVID-related child care stabilization funding and incentive pay for early educators.

House Budget: H.5150

Executive Summary

House Amendments, Consolidated Amendment A

(more…)

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On Monday, Governor Charlie Baker announced new COVID-19 restrictions, issuing an advisory that asks everyone over age 5 to wear masks whenever they go outside.

BUT: This rule does not apply to early education and care programs.

As Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), explains in an email:

“Please note that EEC licensed programs are exempted from the Executive Order and should continue to abide by and adhere to the Minimum Requirements for Health and Safety regarding mask use for adults and children.”

 

 

The commissioner adds:

“Programs should encourage families and staff to abide by these new requirements outside of child care to help keep facilities and our communities safe.

“Let me also take a moment to say thank you to all of the educators and professionals in this state who have found different ways to encourage children to wear their masks — health heroes, kindness super heroes, germ defenders, social stories, and, frankly, just leading by example. We are all in this together, children included.”

To learn more, sign up to receive official EEC emails from the Commissioner’s Office List.

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On October 14, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker released a revised budget for fiscal year 2021, totaling $45.5 billion. This is an increase of $900 million over the governor’s January budget proposal.

CommonWealth Magazine reports:

“The high budget is largely driven by excessive spending in MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program. It would be paid for with an influx of federal money as well as a $1.3 billion draw from the state’s $3.5 billion rainy day fund.”

“ ‘The rainy day fund is there to support services when it’s raining, and I think most people would agree it’s raining,’ Baker said at a State House press conference.”

The governor’s proposed funding for early education and care largely stayed the same compared to his January budget proposal.

One exception is the $5 million proposal for the workforce development initiative (3000-7066), a reduction from the $8.5 million proposed in January. (more…)

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