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Archive for the ‘MA Legislature’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

After a turbulent budget season, the Massachusetts state budget for fiscal year 2021 is being finalized now. A six-member Conference Committee is meeting to reconcile funding differences between the House and Senate budgets.

These two budgets have allocated different amounts of funding for early education and care (EEC) line items.

More than $100 million is at stake for EEC programs.

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s crucial to maximize funding for early education and care by encouraging legislators to include the higher budget amounts for each EEC line item.

Click here to email the Conference Committee today, and ask them to invest in high-quality early education and care in the final FY21 state budget.

The budget will likely pass within a few days. Please take action now!

For more budget and advocacy information, contact Titus DosRemedios: tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org

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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 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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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Because of COVID-19, Massachusetts does not yet have a Fiscal Year 2021 budget, which would have gone into effect on July 1st of this year.

Last Friday, however, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a supplemental budget for the FY20 fiscal year. This budget includes critical funding for COVID-19 relief efforts.

“Baker said much of the bill, as it covers COVID-19 spending, will be reimbursable by the federal government,” MassLive.com reports.

A State House News article adds that the bill “also designates June 19 as a state holiday known as ‘Juneteenth Independence Day,’ commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Baker said that the holiday will be a time to ‘recognize the continued need to ensure racial freedom and equality.’ ”

For early education and care, the budget includes $36 million to cover the costs that the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) faces as it administers emergency child care for essential workers and replaces lost parent fees for state-subsidized providers.

The budget also includes $45.6 million in child care funding that was awarded in the federal CARES Act, which became law on March 27, 2020. EEC will distribute these funds as grants to providers who serve subsidized children or essential workers.

In addition, the budget establishes a new $500,000, Early Education and Care Public-Private Trust Fund to support technical assistance for child care providers as they engage in reopening and recovery efforts. The budget also directs the Department of Public Health to work with EEC to collect and publish the number of COVID-19-positive cases that occur among children, families, and child care staff. 

 To learn more, click here to see a list of early childhood state budget line items — and to see the FY21 budget proposal that Governor Baker filed in January.

For more information, contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org or (617) 330-7387.

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Here at Strategies for Children, COVID-19 has kept our advocacy focus on funding, health, and safety. Now that early childhood programs are reopening, we want to shine a spotlight on mental health.

As children, parents, and staff members continue to navigate life during a pandemic, they may need help managing mental health challenges.

Young children face a particularly high risk of being negatively impacted by the pandemic, Aditi Subramaniam said during a Strategies for Children Zoom call. She is the Early Childhood Mental Health Partnership Manager at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Children may experience intense feelings or regress developmentally, and it may be emotionally tough for them to engage in social distancing, Subramaniam added. Fortunately, this risk can be mitigated by ensuring that children receive nurturing, responsive, and consistent care from caregivers and providers.

To help children, caregivers and providers can draw on several resources. (more…)

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Briana Lamari

Briana Lamari went to Stonehill College thinking she would be a high school English teacher.

But after doing a school placement with a teacher who felt she couldn’t control what went on in her classroom because of all the policies made outside that classroom, Lamari’s interest began to shift.

In a sociology class, Lamari studied inequality in education. And during Lamari’s senior year in college, when she was looking for an internship, her sociology professor, Sinead Chalmers, who is also a senior associate at the Rennie Center, told her about Strategies for Children.

“I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to go beyond Stonehill and see education on a larger scale, especially at the state level. And it has turned out to be just that, the opportunity to see the landscape of early education and policy.” (more…)

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House Speaker Robert DeLeo at Advocacy Day in the State House in 2014. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

“We all understand that a key component of any recovery is access to safe child care.

“Through our work together over the years with the EEC Workforce Task Force and championing innovative new models in order to foster increased coordination between early education programming and health care, the House of Representatives has stood by our Early Education and Care providers and most vulnerable children. We have focused on this sector in order to prioritize the health and wellbeing of children, today and beyond.

“With your help, the Early Education and Care Business Advisory group also made key recommendations including a multi-year action plan for targeting investments that strengthened our EEC efforts in Massachusetts. And the House has lived up to our commitment. We led the way to provide more than $60 million in unprecedented increases to support the workforce and improve programs for the most at-risk children.

“Now COVID-19 threatens that progress. Providers will need to consider new health and safety protocols, which will likely affect the overall capacity of the system. I am pleased to announce that Chair Peisch, informed and supported by the work of Chair Ferrante, will spearhead a newly-formed Early Education and Care Recovery Advisory Group to ensure businesses and providers are prepared to support families and workers in this new landscape. The group will look at how health protocols will impact childcare, examine the financing models for programs amid tremendous change, and explore the effect the pandemic has had on programs in communities of color and those throughout the sector.”

 

— House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s prepared remarks to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, May 21, 2020

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Last week was the latest entry in Strategies for Children’s Advocacy 101 webinars.

The topic: state budget updates — or, to put it more bluntly, what COVID-19 has done to the budget.

Earlier this year, before the pandemic shut down Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker submitted his fiscal year ’21 budget.

“This budget would have continued an eighth consecutive year of increases for early education,” Titus DosRemedios, Strategies director of research and policy, says in the webinar. (more…)

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How should Massachusetts reopen its early education and care programs?

By being responsive to the new needs that parents and employers have in a COVID-19 world.

That’s why Strategies for Children and 38 other organizations have submitted a letter to Governor Charlie Baker’s Reopening Advisory Board, which is actively seeking public feedback as it develops a plan “to reopen the economy in phases based on health and safety metrics.”

As our letter explains, taking careful next steps is essential.

“As you develop recommendations for how best to re-boot economic recovery in Massachusetts,” the letter says, “we ask that you include an intentional focus on reopening and strengthening the child care sector. No recovery will be successful if employees and working families do not have access to safe, affordable, high-quality child care for their children.”

The letter also points to the business sector’s support for child care, explaining: (more…)

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Source: NIEER

 

This year, in its annual Yearbook, NIEER is taking on the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the midst of this devastating crisis, NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research) is wisely calling on the country to act by drawing on some of the valuable lessons learned from the Great Recession.

As its executive summary explains, the Yearbook offers government policymakers “valuable information for planning short- and long-term responses to the crisis” that includes “information on where children are served, operating schedules, and other program features relevant to planning the education of children in a post-COVID-19 world.”

Since NIEER launched its Yearbook in 2002, states have made consistent but slow progress on investing in early childhood programs.

When the Great Recession took its toll, states cut early childhood spending.

Now: “Despite a brief upturn, pre-K’s long-term growth rate remains lower than before the Great Recession.” And some states “had not fully reversed their quality standards reductions by 2018-2019.” (more…)

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