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The Early Childhood Agenda has been released!

On Tuesday, early education advocates gathered at the Massachusetts State House for the release event. Watch a video replay here. And check out #EarlyChildhoodAgenda on Twitter.

“The Early Childhood Agenda imagines, prioritizes, and builds collective action around equitable and impact-driven solutions by providing a space for the early childhood community to work across sectors for better policy development,” a newly released brief explains.

It’s an exciting plan for unified action that can improve the experiences of young children and families in Massachusetts.

The Agenda includes the input of more than 1,000 people who contributed to a conversation that identified 10 priorities. They are:

1 Work with state government to “pass and implement comprehensive early education and care legislation that addresses family affordability and establishes a career pathway and funding mechanism to drive investments in workforce compensation.”

2 Ensure “early childhood professionals across multiple sectors have access to competitive wages and an affordable benefits package (health care, paid leave, retirement, child care)” by drawing on “operational grants, state-funded benefits, an opt-in group health plan, unionization, and premium assistance programs”

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Join us TODAY for the release of the work done by the Early Childhood Agenda – a unified plan that draws on many voices to improve early childhood programs in Massachusetts. 

You can register here and meet us at the Grand Staircase inside the Massachusetts State House at 11 a.m.

Starting at 11 a.m., we will also livestream the event on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

We’ll be sharing “a targeted list of policy priorities… shaped by community voice and needs, and the different perspectives and lived experiences of partners to highlight the field’s top priorities for the next two years.”

These priorities cover five broad areas:

• Financially Secure Families

• High-Quality Experiences

• Thriving Early Childhood Workforce

• Robust System Infrastructure and Local Partnerships, and

• Healthy Beginnings

So please join us live — or via our livestream — to ensure that Massachusetts is a place where all young children can thrive.

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“The strength of Massachusetts is its families. And they sorely need our help. Our state has some of the highest child care costs in the country. Our care workers don’t make a livable wage.

“So today, let us pledge to be the first state to solve the child care crisis. Let’s finally pass legislation in line with Common Start to make sure every family pays what they can afford, and that care workers are paid what they deserve. This is something our families, workers, and businesses all agree on.”

“Read Gov. Maura Healey’s inaugural speech,” WBUR Newsroom, January 05, 2023

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It was time to say goodbye at this week’s meeting of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). 

Board chair Nonie Lesaux and Massachusetts’ Secretary of Education Jim Peyser are both stepping down.

To acknowledge their contribution Amy O’Leary, Strategies for Childrens’ executive director, spoke at the meeting and later reflected further on the service of Lesaux and Peyser, especially as EEC and its board have navigated the historic challenges of the pandemic. 

Amy appears at the 13:09 timemark in the video posted above. Her full statement is posted here. And here are some excerpts of her comments and additional thoughts: 

“To say that the decisions made by leaders in the Baker-Polito administration and the Massachusetts legislature over the last three years saved lives may sound dramatic. But I believe it is true.

“From setting up emergency childcare in a matter of days, to supporting COVID testing for children, families and staff, to listening to the field when drafting responsive new policies to ensure safety and health, to funding programs to stay open and support parents’ choices about when to send their child back to a program to the creation and continued funding for the C3 grants. Just keeping the day-to-day operations of the Department running was an incredible achievement.”

Amy also praised “the incredible stories of the educators, program directors, family child care providers, school age staff, CEOs and community leaders who have shown up for children and families every single day.”

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Next month, Massachusetts will have new leadership, so it’s time for advocates to learn about and reach out to key players in state public policy.

One good place to start is learning about the transition teams that have been created by Governor-elect Maura Healey and Lieutenant Governor-elect Kim Driscoll.

The key committee for early childhood advocates to focus on is called “Thriving Youth and Young Adults.”

Chaired by Amanda Fernandez, the CEO of Latinos for Education, and Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Rachel H. Monárrez, the committee is looking at, “How we address learning loss from the pandemic and give all children and families equitable access to the educational, social, emotional and behavioral supports they need.”

Serving on the committee are well known members of the early education and care community, including:

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Great news! Early education and care got a financial boost earlier this month when Governor Charlie Baker signed a $3.76 billion economic development bill into law.

As our FY’23 budget webpage explains, this investment includes “an additional $150 million to continue the C3 Stabilization Grants through the end of the fiscal year in June 2023, and an additional $315 million in the newly created High-Quality Early Education and Care Affordability Fund.”

We are grateful to the Legislature for passing this bill and to the governor for signing it.

In a State House News story that ran in the Sentinel & Enterprise, Baker says Massachusetts can invest in child care and be fiscally prudent:

“Recognizing the importance of childcare investments, I am approving sections in this bill that redirect $315 million from the Commonwealth Taxpayer Relief Fund to the High-Quality Early Education & Care Affordability Fund. However, we can invest in childcare and make sensible tax changes at the same time. With the state in a historically strong fiscal position, the tax cuts that the Legislature has committed to prioritizing next session will be affordable without a special set-aside.”

A WBUR report focuses on the relief for some workers, noting:

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we voted

The Election Day results from Massachusetts are in!

Congratulations to Governor-Elect Maura Healey, Lieutenant Governor-Elect Kim Driscoll, the returning members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, and the winners of other statewide offices.

We are also excited to congratulate all returning and newly elected members of the Massachusetts Legislature.

What’s next?

Join us on Monday, November 21st, 2022, at 1 p.m. for a post-election webinar to discuss next steps and how we can work together to build relationships and engage elected officials in supporting early childhood in 2023!

Click here to register.

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vote-blog

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

It’s Election Day! Please go out and vote!

Here are some useful voting facts and links:

• polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Massachusetts. Click here to see where you vote

• you can also check the Secretary of State Elections Website

• you can see information about the Ballot Questions here

If you’ve already voted, thanks for your participation.

To learn more about voting, please check out Strategies for Children’s “Vote 2022” webpage. It has a number of voting resources as well as details on how we’re working to build more equitable access to early childhood programs.

Once again, please vote. 

Your participation matters to the future of children across Massachusetts.

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Last week, Strategies for Children hosted an open house event for the Early Childhood Agenda, our exciting new, initiative to build a consensus on early childhood needs in Massachusetts by connecting organizations, parents, advocates, businesses, educators, providers, and government representatives.

Did you miss it? No problem. Just watch the video above. The slides are available here.

And you can click here to sign up and join this effort along with the hundreds of early childhood advocates, providers, educators, and parents.

Please also join us for a kickoff meeting that will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, October 19, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Everyone who completes the sign-up form will automatically receive the Zoom link and instructions for this meeting.

Now is the time to take action.

As we’ve reported, this year’s state budget includes historic funding for early education and care. Advocates are eager to build on this momentum to achieve a sustainable system and lasting change. To encourage this change the Agenda will address the often interrelated issues of early childhood by taking a holistic view, going beyond child care to include any early childhood systems, programs, and policies that impact young children and families.

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sfc advocacy

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

As the summer winds down, it’s time to get ready for election season. 

Your voice matters! Please let your candidates know that they should make early education and care a priority! 

Elections in Massachusetts are just around the corner. The state’s primary is Tuesday, September 6, 2022. The statewide election will be Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

So, now is the time to remind candidates that Massachusetts should build on this year’s momentum by continuing to make early education and care a policy and a funding priority!

To learn more, please check out Strategies for Children’s Election Year 2022 webpage. It includes a wide range of information, including where to vote, who the candidates are, and how we are advancing our advocacy work.

Please join us as we call for “early education and care to be treated as a public good – just like public schools or our physical infrastructure of roads and bridges.” This will make a huge difference for children and families.

And please be sure to vote in the upcoming elections. 

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