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Archive for the ‘MA state budget’ Category

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

“Within every challenge lies vast opportunity,” David Jordan, president of the Seven Hills Foundation & Affiliates, writes in a new CommonWealth magazine article.

The challenge Jordan is referring to is the shortage of early education and care staff members.

The opportunity to address this shortage, he says, is to set up an apprenticeship program.

Jordan explains, “The path to becoming a credentialed Child Development Associate, which enables one to become a preschool teacher and, with additional training, a lead teacher, is difficult and costly.”

And asking budding early educators to leave work and then go to school at the end of the day ignores the fact that many are parents who need to get home to their own children.

As Jordan explains, an apprenticeship program would address this problem:

“An on-the-job – we call it ‘learn while you earn’ – training program coupled with virtual classroom education form the core of an apprenticeship program that is a vital way to encourage retention and promotion in the child care workforce. Onsite mentoring provides the professional support for the apprentice’s adaptation of classroom learning to practice.”

(more…)

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Governor Charlie Baker

It’s state budget season, and a diverse group of 80 stakeholders — Strategies for Children as well as businesses, early education providers, advocates, community organizations, health care providers, and philanthropies — have sent a letter to Governor Charlie Baker asking him to prioritize young children and families as he puts together his FY ‘23 budget proposal.

The letter asks for “the designation of $600 million, as projected by the Department of Early Education and Care, to extend and study the (EEC) Child Care Stabilization Grants through Fiscal Year 2023 to position the program for sustained support and success into the future.”

This funding would provide crucial support as providers recover from the pandemic and move forward.

You can read the full letter here. To sign on, please complete this form. We will send an updated letter in early January.

As the letter explains:

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the childcare sector. We are in the midst of a childcare staffing crisis that is the result of years of chronic underinvestment and low wages. As a result, the workforce that cares for our children and serves as the backbone of our economy has been depleted. The Commonwealth will continue to lose its early education and care workforce to the many other sectors able to offer higher wages and more generous benefits unless we address educator compensation.” (more…)

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Last week at the State House, early education was in the spotlight.

The Joint Committee on Education held a hearing and heard testimony on “bills related to Early Education and Care, Kindergarten, and Literacy.”

“During a virtual hearing of the Joint Committee on Education, child-care providers and advocates joined lawmakers in calling for systemic changes to an industry known for its harsh economic imbalance,” the Boston Globe reports. “Massachusetts has some of the highest child-care costs in the nation, yet the state’s child-care workers earn a median salary of $37,000 a year, barely a living wage for someone with children.”

Video of the hearing and a list of the bills is posted here.

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Among the bills that were discussed is the Common Start legislation (H.605S.362), which “would establish a system of affordable, high-quality early education and child care for all Massachusetts families, over a 5-year timeline,” according to a fact sheet. Strategies for Children serves on the Common Start steering committee, and our executive director Amy O’Leary was one of more than 70 individuals who submitted written testimony in support of the bill. (more…)

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Get ready for next week’s virtual State House hearing, where the Joint Committee on Education will hear testimony on “bills related to Early Education and Care, Kindergarten, and Literacy.”

To watch the hearing, tune in on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, at 11 am.

Want to testify? The deadline for signing up is the day before, Monday, November 22, at noon.

You can also email written testimony to Alice.Peisch@mahouse.gov and Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov. Please include “Education Committee Testimony, [Relevant Bill Number]” in the email’s subject line.

Need to learn more about the bills? Keep reading.

Strategies for Children will provide testimony in support of two bills. One is the Common Start legislation, a bill (H.605S.362) that “would establish a system of affordable, high-quality early education and child care for all Massachusetts families, over a 5-year timeline,” according to a fact sheet. (more…)

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Yesterday, a dozen early educators and leaders submitted testimony at a State House hearing of the Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission.

And there’s still time to email more testimony to the commission. To have the most impact submit your testimony by this Thursday.

The commission, as Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), a commission co-chair, explains on his website, “is tasked with investigating accessibility, affordability, and other concerns surrounding early education and childcare in the Commonwealth, and making recommendations to the state legislature for policy and funding solutions.”

Lewis adds:

“With a growing consensus among the public, the business community and policymakers that high-quality, affordable, accessible early education and childcare are indispensable, this commission has a unique opportunity to lay out a roadmap for bold, transformative policy action.”

Lewis is co-chairing the commission with Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley).

Among those who submitted testimony to the committee is Jessica Seney, vice president of the board at Charlestown Nursery School in Boston, who said in part: (more…)

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Thank you for advocating for high-quality early education and care in the Massachusetts state budget. 

Your advocacy has paid off! 

All $44 million at stake for early education and care was included in the conference committee’s FY22 budget, released last Thursday and passed by the Legislature on Friday. 

For early education and care, all line items received the higher funding amount between House and Senate budgets. This includes $20 million for a rate increase for center-based early educator salaries, $8.95 million for the Department of Early Education and Care’s parent fee sliding scale reserve, $12 million for child care resource and referral agencies, $10 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative, and more.

View our state budget webpage for details.

While we applaud recent federal stimulus investments in child care, and proposals for further investment in the American Families Plan, it is critical that our state leaders continue to invest state dollars into high-quality early education and care. 

Our early educators, young children, and families are all counting on us to help Massachusetts fully recover from the pandemic and build a stronger, more sustainable, more equitable early education and care system.

The budget has been sent to Governor Charlie Baker who has 10 days to sign it into law. He can also choose to make line item vetoes.

 Encourage Governor Baker to sign the budget into law and thank him for investing in early education and care. 

And please visit strategiesforchildren.org for more news, budget updates, and advocacy resources. 

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Melissa Charles

Melissa Charles

I am a student at Bunker Hill Community College pursuing my associate degree. However, this fall I will transfer to Smith College and study economics.

I was born in Geneva Switzerland and left the country at age three. By the time I started kindergarten in the United States, French and Haitian Creole were my first languages. As a child. I was not celebrated for my multilingual abilities. In fact, compared to my peers, I was seen as having a deficit. Fortunately, I learned English quickly, and within a few months, I had completely adapted.

During my internship at Strategies for Children (SFC), I have been carrying my early childhood experience with me. I am interested in early education and care that includes a focus on emerging multi-language learners and on families who rely heavily on assistance programs and would benefit from supportive, grassroots policies.

In my policy and advocacy work, I hope to grow SFC’s social media presence through outreach and campaigns, drawing on my experience as a marketing intern for my hometown of Stoneham, Mass. Through my work with the SFC team, I hope to advance budget and policy ideas that may have not been prioritized in the past. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Are you ready to advocate for young children, families, and early educators? 

The Massachusetts fiscal year 2022 budget is nearing completion.

Right now, a conference committee is reviewing and resolving differences between the House and Senate budgets. 

What’s at stake? For early education, there is a $44 million difference between the two budgets. 

You can help by contacting the committee’s six members. They are: 

• Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester)

• Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston)

• Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren)

• Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington)

• Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth)

• Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport)

Click here to email the conference committee and ask them to invest in high-quality early education and care and school-age/OST programs in the FY22 state budget.

Help our sector build back stronger, recruit and retain educators, and provide safe and high-quality programs for children and families. Every public dollar invested makes a difference. Advocate now! (more…)

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Yesterday, the Massachusetts Senate passed its $47.7 billion state budget for fiscal year 2022.

The budget includes amendments that senators debated earlier this week. The amendments for early education and care that passed include funding for early childhood mental health ($500,000), Jumpstart ($250,000), and Square One ($50,000). Together these investments boost the bottom line for early education and care items by $800,000. Larger amendments for early education, including a $20 million rate reserve, were not adopted into the Senate budget.

Next, the FY22 budget process moves to a six-member conference committee that will reconcile differences between the House and Senate budgets. The conference committee’s members will be named soon.

Your advocacy will be critical. There is $44 million at stake for early education and care. That’s the total funding difference between the House and Senate budgets for the Department of Early Education and Care.

Please contact your state legislators today and ask them to invest in high-quality early education and care in the FY22 state budget.

For more information, visit our state budget webpage or contact Titus DosRemedios, tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org.

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Yesterday, the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means released its $47.6 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2022.

WBUR reports that, “Senate President Karen Spilka said the budget bill ‘seeks to put us on a stable fiscal footing and build a more inclusive and resilient commonwealth for all of us.’

“ ‘If the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic aftershocks have frayed the fabric of our commonwealth, this budget takes on the important but sometimes invisible work of stitching that fabric back together,’ ” Spilka told reporters.

The Senate’s proposal for early education and care includes more funding than Governor Charlie Baker’s FY22 proposal, but less than the House budget.

All three FY22 budgets are well below FY21 state budget appropriations for early education and care.

(more…)

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