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Archive for the ‘MA state budget’ Category

 

Across Massachusetts, after closing because of the pandemic, early education and care providers have been reopening, navigating the challenges created by COVID-19.

“We still are ahead of many, many states in our reopening capacity,” Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care, said at a recent department board meeting, public radio station WBUR reports. “While that is really great, what we’re hearing back is many of those [providers] are at a level of vulnerability that could easily put us behind the country quickly as well.”

WBUR adds:

“Eighty-two percent of the state’s licensed providers reopened as of Nov. 23, according to the latest survey from the Department of Early Education and Care. But, many providers told the state that reopening has come with a slew of financial challenges. Many reported struggles to find qualified staffers, or families to fill available slots. Some were forced to contend with the costs of temporary closures because of suspected or confirmed exposure to the coronavirus.” (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: 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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Here at Strategies for Children, interns are an important part of the work we do. Interns help us with advocacy, research, and social media. And they ask important questions and contribute new ideas, enabling us to expand our reach.

Currently, we have three interns whom we’re happy to introduce: Teresia Kiragu, Nicole Simonson, and Abigail Usherwood. Here’s a little more about each of them.

 

Teresia Kiragu

I am currently a student at Bunker Hill Community College, enrolled in the Business Management program. I chose this course because I have a vision that one day, I will open a non-governmental organization to help children who are vulnerable and give them an opportunity to get a strong education. I’m originally from Kenya, where I worked for an organization that helps under-resourced communities. While working in this organization, I saw a lot of children who are desperately in need; nonetheless, they have the right to be raised well and become contributing members of the society.

During my time at Strategies, I have learned how the Massachusetts state budget distributes funds to schools. (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 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

 

COVID-19 has not only created a health crisis and an economic crisis, but also a child care crisis.

A persistent and troubling concern is that child care programs that closed during the pandemic will shut down permanently, and parents in need of this care won’t be able to return to work, crippling the economy’s ability to stabilize.

There is, however, hope.

As the country rebuilds, it could invest wisely in child care programs, helping them to recover and emerge stronger.

Here are three takes on how this could occur.

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Families and businesses benefit from child care, JD Chesloff explains in a blog for ReadyNation, a part of Council for a Strong America, a national nonprofit that promotes children’s success. Chesloff is the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and a ReadyNation advisory board member.

“Child care allows parents to work, be more productive while on the job, and reach higher levels of professional achievement. Nurturing learning environments prepare young children for kindergarten and future achievement in school and, eventually, in the workplace.” (more…)

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Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera. Source: City of Lawrence Instagram page

“Are we in a place where we can safely go back to business, go back to work or go back to life?” Lawrence, Mass., Mayor Dan Rivera said last week on a Zoom call with the early childhood community.

This question, Rivera explained, is what the members of the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board have been asking as they grapple with how to emerge from the statewide shutdowns caused by COVID-19.

Rivera serves on the reopening board, and he’s working hard to protect his city, which has had, as of Tuesday, 3,438 COVID-19 cases and 127 deaths. Last month, The Boston Globe reported that Lawrence had become “a coronavirus hot spot, with the fourth-highest per capita rate of infection in Massachusetts.”

On the Zoom call, Rivera provided a mayor’s-eye-view of the crisis and its impact on child care.

Handling disasters isn’t new work for Lawrence. In 2018, gas line explosions shoved the city into crisis mode.

“Because of the Columbia Gas crisis, we know what suffering would look like if we didn’t step up right away,” Rivera explains in a follow-up interview. (more…)

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The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is listening. So the field has to keep talking.

Last week, EEC released reopening guidelines, a 32-page document outlining minimum requirements for health and safety. Almost immediately, early educators and child care providers raised a number of concerns.

In response, EEC has updated its guidelines.

“I know there is uncertainty and anxiety. I assure you EEC’s approach is meant to be supportive. We intend for providers to be having conversations with parents—collaborating together on how to put in place protective measures that meet children’s developmental needs as well as keep staff and families safe,” EEC Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy said in a letter to the field.

“Please note that all programs may choose when to reopen. It will remain up to individual programs to assess their readiness to implement the reopening requirements.”

EEC’s “Reopening Process Overview” provides a three-point timeline. (more…)

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