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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Category

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Screenshot: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

In the search for child care, many mothers end up making disappointing tradeoffs.

To better understand what parents face, the Federal Reserve Bank took a closer look at the challenges and released the findings in a new issue brief, “Child care tradeoffs among Massachusetts mothers.”

“Between October 2019 and January 2020, we interviewed 67 mothers in Massachusetts whose children had not yet started kindergarten,” the brief explains. It was written by Sarah Savage, a senior policy analyst and advisor at the Boston Fed, and Wendy Robeson, senior research scientist with the Work, Families, and Children Research Group at the Wellesley Centers for Women.

What Savage and Robeson heard from the mothers they interviewed were the many ways that child care tradeoffs have an economic impact. (Dads were invited to participate in these interviews, but all the responses came from moms.) This is pre-Covid research that shows how tough it was to find child care in normal times. Now in the midst of the pandemic, these challenges continue, and some have grown worse.

“This study reveals that an inadvertent effect of a mostly private market of child care is that it requires parents of young children to compromise and in some cases sacrifice what they need to achieve and maintain economic security, let alone advance it, with consequences for their children’s development,” the brief explains.

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The fiscal year 2023 budget was signed by Governor Baker last week, and thanks to your advocacy, the budget includes historic state investments in early education and care!

Please take a minute to thank your legislators and thank Governor Baker for taking action.

The new budget includes: 

• $250 million in Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) Stabilization Grants – which ensures that C3 grants continue through December 2022 (visit the Department of Early Education and Care’s website for more C3 info)

• $60 million for a rate increase for early educators

• $25 million for a new Early Education & Care Infrastructure and Policy Reform Reserve to bolster the statewide system of care, assist families in navigating the early education landscape, and help early educators with costs associated with personal childcare

• $15 million for preschool expansion in the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative

• $15 million for resource and referral agencies

• $3.5 million for early childhood mental health, and

• $175 million for a new High-Quality Early Education & Care Affordability Fund [Outside section 180]

For a full breakdown, visit our budget page

And once again, please thank your legislators and thank Governor Baker for these much needed investments.

In addition to these critical investments, the Legislature had proposed additional early education and care investments in its Economic Development bill. And last week, Strategies for Children joined 70 organizations and 214 individuals in asking legislators to include these investments in the final “conference committee” bill. However, the formal legislative session ended on July 31st, and the bill was left in conference. We will continue to monitor the bill and report any future updates.

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“With the Commonwealth in a historically strong fiscal position, the FY23 budget supports tax relief for hundreds of thousands of taxpayers, while making record investments in education and local aid,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Since coming into office, our Administration has worked closely with the Legislature to ensure the budget is structurally sound and protected from unpredictable economic fluctuations, and I am pleased to sign another budget that maintains this commitment while making investments help Massachusetts’ families and communities grow and thrive.”

“The FY23 budget maintains our Administration’s strong support for the Commonwealth’s cities and towns and expands services in acute areas of need, like housing stability, education and childcare access, workforce development, transportation, substance addiction treatment, and behavioral health care,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “This funding will further our work to encourage the economic growth of our communities, promote equitable access to opportunity and support the health and wellbeing of all residents.”

“Governor Charlie Baker Signs Fiscal Year 2023 Budget,” Governor’s Press Office, July 28, 2022

For detailed information about the early education and care items in the budget, please visit Strategies for Children’s state budget page.

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Federal Reserve photo

Photo: Huong Vu for Strategies for Children

What happens when an early educator and a community leader team up with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston?

Everybody wins.

That’s what occurred when two members of the Boston Fed’s Leaders for Equitable Local Economies (LELE) program saw the damage caused by the pandemic.

“After COVID-19 hit, Marites MacLean and Beth Robbins noticed a worrying trend: Dozens of child care centers were closing across central Massachusetts. And as families lost reliable child care, local businesses increasingly struggled to fill jobs,” a Boston Fed article says.

MacLean is a longtime early educator and one of Strategies for Children’s original 9:30 Call participants. Robbins was helping “jobseekers through a local nonprofit called WORK Inc.” Both women are also residents of Fitchburg, Mass. And the LELE program they participate in supports and strengthens leaders like them who are “taking on the critical work of rebuilding economic systems in Massachusetts’ smaller cities.”

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

We have another advocacy opportunity for you!

But first, thank you for taking action on the state budget and continuing to support early education and care legislation.

The next step: right now the Legislature is focused on its Economic Development Bill. The House and Senate passed versions of this bill this week — each with substantial funding proposals for early education and care:

  • $150 million for grants to support and stabilize the early education and care workforce and address varied operational costs at state child care programs supervised by the Department of Early Education and Care (Senate bill); and
  • The i-Lottery program with dedicated revenue for an Early Education and Care Fund (House bill)

Next week a conference committee will negotiate differences between the bills.

Join us in signing an advocacy letter supporting both House and Senate proposals for early education and care. Our deadline is Monday, July 25, 2022, at 5 p.m. Act now!

Now is the time to advocate for including critical funding for early childhood education and care in the legislation, including sufficient funding for the C3 stabilization grants to be extended through Fiscal Year 2023.

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The State House is seeing a flurry of activity as the 2021-2022 legislative session winds down.

On Monday the Legislature passed a state budget with major investments in early education and care.

Legislators continue their work this week to finalize an economic development bill that could include additional funding for early education.

Early education and care legislation is still pending, awaiting action in the House.

On July 7, 2022, the Massachusetts Senate took a bold step forward by voting unanimously to pass An Act to expand access to high-quality, affordable early education and care (S.2973). But to become law, it will also need to be approved by the House before the end of this month.

The Common Start Coalition continues to lead advocacy for the bill’s passage. Visit Common Start for the latest advocacy updates. (Strategies for Children serves on the Common Start steering committee). Let your state representative know about the Senate bill, and encourage them to pass a similar bill in the House.

This promising bill provides a strong framework for tackling many of the persistent challenges that the field faced long before the pandemic started.

The bill would put Massachusetts on a path toward establishing a system of affordable and high-quality early education and care for families. The bill also calls for providing more support for early educators.

Senate President Karen Spilka provides details here.

The need is great. As Mark Reilly, the Vice President of Policy & Government Relations at Jumpstart, points out, “Massachusetts is 40th in the nation in state investment in early education and we are pleased to see that the Legislature is poised to drive the state up those rankings.”

Massachusetts can build on the pending investments in the state budget by passing a historic bill that charts a long-term course for bolstering our early education and care system.

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

On Sunday, the Massachusetts Legislature’s six-member conference committee, drawn from the House and the Senate, completed its work of negotiating the final FY23 state budget, releasing a $52.7 billion budget proposal.

Though the House and Senate budgets funded several key early education and care items at different amounts, the conference committee budget includes the higher amount of funding in each case.

And yesterday, the House and Senate voted unanimously to pass the budget bill.

This includes:

• $250 million in Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) Stabilization Grants [line item 3000-1045]

• $60 million for a rate increase for early educators [3000-1042] 

• $25 million for a new Early Education & Care Infrastructure and Policy Reform Reserve to bolster the statewide system of care, assist families in navigating the early education landscape, and help early educators with costs associated with personal childcare [3000-1046]

• $15 million for preschool expansion in the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative [3000-6025]

• $15 million for resource and referral agencies [Access Management 3000-2000], and 

• $3.5 million for early childhood mental health [3000-6075]

We’ve posted the full breakdown for early education and care here

Next the bill goes to Governor Charlie Baker who has 10 days to sign the budget into law. He can also make line item vetoes. 

Click here to ask Governor Baker to sign the budget as is into law so that Massachusetts can move forward and strengthen its early education and care system.

For more information, please contact Titus DosRemedios, deputy director of Strategies for Children. 

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The FY23 state budget is late this year, but legislators are very close to a deal. A 6-member conference committee is meeting now to finalize differences between the House and Senate budget proposals.

For early education and care, there is $344 million at stake

That’s the difference between the House and Senate proposals. There’s $250 million for Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) Stabilization Grants in the Senate proposal, and $70 million in rates in the House proposal, which includes $10 million for grants to early education and care providers for costs associated with personal child care. 

Click this link to email the conference committee today, and ask them to advocate for early education and care in the conference committee budget.

If you have already taken action in recent weeks, take action again. As they finalize the state budget, our legislators need to hear from advocates for early education and care.

Our state continues to have record revenue surpluses. Not only can Massachusetts easily afford to fully fund early education and care – we can’t afford not to!

State funding is essential for continued recovery of our field. 

Ongoing staffing shortages mean that early education and care programs are open but operating with lower enrollment and closed classrooms.

Many industries are experiencing similar shortages, but a workforce shortage in child care means people cannot return to work and our state and local economy cannot fully recover.

Ask the conference committee to invest in high-quality early education and care, for young children, families, educators, and communities. 

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“Just as the Senate led on transforming the Commonwealth’s K-12 education system through the Student Opportunity Act, today’s bill would similarly transform the early education system,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Unfortunately, high-quality early education remains out of reach for most Massachusetts families, and our providers struggle to keep their doors open. This bill will address those issues and make our Commonwealth stronger by making early education more affordable, investing in our early educators, and ensuring the sustainability of our providers.”

“With this bill, we are creating a framework to support the early education and care sector; making clear that the Senate understands the vital importance of early childhood to our economic recovery and to the health and wellbeing of Massachusetts families,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I am proud of this bill and the work that has gone into it. I thank the Senate President for her leadership in prioritizing this issue, and I want thank Senator Lewis for thoughtfully and collaboratively putting this important legislation together.”

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We’re continuing to highlight our Advocacy Network participants, and we’re excited about all the work they’re doing in the field and across the state. For past blogs click here and here.

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Kelly Marion first came to the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center when she was 11 years old. Her father had just passed away. He had been the victim of a violent crime. And Marion’s mother wanted Marion and her siblings to stay engaged with the community – and the world.

Today, Marion is the CEO of the community center, where she has worked for over 30 years. The center currently serves 2,500 families in and around the Western Massachusetts city of Pittsfield, in Berkshire County. 

“The majority of our families are socio-economically challenged,” Marion says. “We have a lot of single-parent households and grandparents raising their grandchildren.”

The center has a number of programs that support children, all the way from birth to age 13, including child care programs and an array of programming for middle and high school students. Once they’re old enough, many of these children are hired as center staff.

Thanks to her work, Marion is a seasoned advocate. So for her, joining Strategies for Children’s Advocacy Network was a chance to connect with other early educators from across the state — and share a vital message. 

“I don’t think people see how important early childhood education is, and how important high-quality early education is,” Marion says. 

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