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Archive for the ‘MA Legislature’ Category

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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Last week, 350 people (many of them strategically wearing red) came to the Massachusetts State House for Advocacy Day for Early Education & Care and School Age Programs.

 

Caitlin Jones and Leishla Diaz of The Guild of St. Agnes in Worcester

 

The morning started with speeches from legislators and the commissioner of Early Education and Care – as well as remarks from a parent and from another parent who became an early educator.

 

 

Afterwards, attendees went to meet with the legislators. Here’s a recap of what the speakers said. (more…)

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“As a constituent, I am grateful for the services offered,” Nairobi Woodberry, a Framingham mother of three, said yesterday at Advocacy Day 2020 about the early education and care support she has received, including a booklet with information about Framingham’s public parks and school contact information as well as advice on how to look for quality early education and care programs. Woodberry is also part of the ParentChild Plus+ program, which provides home visiting and other services to families.

Woodberry, who was previously homeless, now works as a school bus driver.

 

 

 

Early educators attended Advocacy Day and spoke about the importance of being paid higher wages so that they can stay in the field — and support their own families.

 

Sign: “Thank you for supporting high-quality early education.”

 

Photos: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

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Today is Advocacy Day 2020 for Early Education & Care and School Age Programs and there are TWO ways to participate. 

You can come to the Massachusetts State House. Here’s the schedule:

9:30 a.m.

Registration in the Great Hall

10:00 a.m.

Speakers – including Early Education and Care Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy

11:15 a.m.

Meetings with Legislators

 

Or you can participate right from your program by:

• finding your elected officials and their contact information by going to www.WhereDoIVoteMA.com

• following them on social media

• taking pictures of your program and share them with your state representatives and state senators on Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtags #ValueEarlyEducators and #ValueAfterSchoolEducators

 

The next step? Keep the advocacy going! In the coming weeks and months you can: (more…)

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