Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Category

 

A few months before the pandemic hit, the University of Massachusetts Boston conducted a survey of the early education and care workforce.

The survey results are a pre-pandemic snapshot of a shaky situation that policymakers can use to understand the toll that the pandemic has taken on providers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that early care and education is a key piece of infrastructure for the economy,” Anne Douglass, the executive director of UMass Boston’s Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, says in a blog post. “Parents need early care and education options that are high quality and affordable because when child care isn’t available, parents can’t work.”

The institute released a report on the survey results along with UMass Boston’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy and its Center for Social Policy. The survey was commissioned by the Department of Early Education and Care.

One important lesson from the survey, Douglass says, is that “returning to pre-pandemic ways of doing business is not an option.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

 

There’s a new mental health resource for parents who are worried about their children, Handhold.

“You know your child better than anyone. But even you have a few questions,” Handhold says on its website, which helps parents find mental health programs for their children.

This is a particularly important resource now, as families grapple with the global pandemic. As Handhold explains:

“COVID-19 is putting incredible pressure on families. You might be noticing your child is struggling in new ways, or that old problems are getting worse. Should you worry about your child’s behavioral health? We’re here to help you figure that out.”

The website – organized by three state agencies: the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the Office of the Child Advocate, and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services – draws on community insights:

“Family partners and parents of kids with similar experiences to yours told us what they wished they had known earlier in their journey. Mental health experts, including child psychiatrists, social workers, and psychologists, selected the most relevant and useful resources.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

Photo: Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

 

This year, the Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund is focusing on helping EEOST programs cope with the demands of keeping children healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Created in 2013, the fund distributes grants to “finance new construction and renovation” projects that can include classrooms, restrooms, buildings, and outdoor spacesThe fund is administered by the Children’s Investment Fund, an affiliate of the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC), and by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

Now, the fund, “will award grants between $100,000 and $250,000… for capital improvements related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.” The grants are smaller than usual so that more programs will benefit.

“We know that child care providers are facing tremendous strain because of the COVID pandemic. Many are modifying their spaces to continue to provide early education services to families safely,” the fund says in a blog post. “Being able to have the flexibility to use the resources available through the EEOST Capital Fund to meet their needs and strengthen the Commonwealth’s childcare infrastructure is important, as many families rely on child care to return to work.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

On Monday, Governor Charlie Baker announced new COVID-19 restrictions, issuing an advisory that asks everyone over age 5 to wear masks whenever they go outside.

BUT: This rule does not apply to early education and care programs.

As Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), explains in an email:

“Please note that EEC licensed programs are exempted from the Executive Order and should continue to abide by and adhere to the Minimum Requirements for Health and Safety regarding mask use for adults and children.”

 

 

The commissioner adds:

“Programs should encourage families and staff to abide by these new requirements outside of child care to help keep facilities and our communities safe.

“Let me also take a moment to say thank you to all of the educators and professionals in this state who have found different ways to encourage children to wear their masks — health heroes, kindness super heroes, germ defenders, social stories, and, frankly, just leading by example. We are all in this together, children included.”

To learn more, sign up to receive official EEC emails from the Commissioner’s Office List.

Read Full Post »

 

It’s Election Day!

If you haven’t already, be sure to vote!

Read Full Post »

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Lillie

Back in March, Tiffany Lillie was working hard as the Director of Community Resource Development at the Framingham Public Schools.

She had been thinking about her work running out-of-school-time programs, including child care programs, in her city. She had been in the office working. She had been at community meetings listening to parent feedback. Her 200 staff members were running programs that served 2,000 children a day.

Then, Lillie heard the first coughs of a global pandemic, which gradually turned into a roar.

“In Massachusetts, we were one of the first departments to have a positive COVID-19 case in early March, so we were unfortunately trendsetting,” Lillie says. “There weren’t other examples that we could follow as a department.”

When Governor Charlie Baker ordered schools to close, Framingham pivoted its programs online. COVID-19 infection rates soared across the state.

So what does a school administrator do in the midst of a global crisis where fear and uncertainty have seized center stage?

Well, in Framingham, Mayor Yvonne Spicer and the school department and Lillie and her colleagues kept talking, in calm, clear voices, in multiple languages – because while the world had changed, the work remained the same: educate children; engage families; provide community resources. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Source: Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women

 

COVID-19 is taking a huge economic toll on women.

The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW) explains how in a new report, “Child Care and Education During COVID-19: A Report on the Economic and Social Impact on Women in Massachusetts.”

“We are hearing about – and many of us are experiencing – intense stress related to the impossible task of simultaneously working and providing care,” commission chairwoman Denella Clark says in a press release. “It is time that we as a Commonwealth understand that early education, care, and school are essential components to families’ economic stability and the state’s economy.” Clark explains more in this Legislative briefing video.

To write the report, the commission drew on testimony delivered during a virtual hearing as well as on a survey that collected 4,000 responses from residents across Massachusetts.

“The last five months have been insane,” a Somerville resident said on the survey. “So many women in my community are at the end of their rope; they’ve had to quit jobs they love or that their families need to survive because it’s been too tough to find childcare.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

Photo: August de Richelieu from Pexels

 

Early educators who have medical questions as they navigate the pandemic can turn to local experts for help.

One of those experts is Dr. Katherine Hsu, the state’s designated child care epidemiologist.

She is on staff at both Boston Medical Center and at the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

As the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) explains, Dr. Hsu is “a resource for questions related to operating child care programs that require medical or scientific expertise.”

She can answer questions such as:

“My staff member does not want to wear a mask for a specific medical reason – does an exception make sense, and how should I account for that in my health and safety planning?”

And:

“A child in my care is immunocompromised – are there additional precautions I should take in caring for him/her?” (more…)

Read Full Post »

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera. Source: City of Lawrence website

“There are a ton of problems that we’re facing with COVID-19: public health, unemployment, education,” Mayor Dan Rivera said on a recent Strategies for Children Zoom call about his city, Lawrence, Mass.

One of those problems cropped up at the end of August, when police found a woman running an unlicensed child care program with 25 children in her apartment.

“We had to shut the place down,” Rivera says, “but this wasn’t an opportunity to arrest somebody or throw a huge fine at them. That to me would have been criminalizing poverty because most of the people that were bringing their kids there couldn’t afford to have child care or couldn’t find affordable safe child care.”

Back in August, Rivera said it would be better to educate parents and to talk to employers about their workers’ child care needs.

Rivera also found another solution to the problem: himself.

He asked Maria Gonzalez Moeller, CEO of The Community Group, a local nonprofit provider, how much it would cost to provide child care for 200 kids. Then he went to the Lawrence City Council and asked for $400,000 in emergency funds to finance child care scholarships. (more…)

Read Full Post »

 

A new policy roadmap charts a course for how states can help children thrive in their first three years of life.

The Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap 2020 was just released by the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

The roadmap is “a guide state leaders can use to develop and implement the most effective policies to strengthen their state’s prenatal-to-3 (PN-3) system of care,” the roadmap’s executive summary explains.

“The science of the developing child is clear: Infants and toddlers need loving, stimulating, stable, and secure care environments with limited exposure to adversity. However, to date states have lacked clear guidance on how to effectively promote the environments in which children thrive.”

The roadmap calls on states to:

• prioritize science-based policy goals to promote infants’ and toddlers’ optimal health and development

• adopt and implement effective policies and strategies to improve prenatal-to-3 goals and outcomes

• monitor the progress being made toward adoption & implementation of effective solutions, and

track outcomes to measure impact on optimal health and development of infants and toddlers

The roadmap says states should have 11 effective policies and strategies in place.

The policies are: (more…)

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: