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Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

SFC radio

Photo: RODNAE Productions from Pexels

This month, WHMP, a Northampton, Mass., radio station featured a discussion on early education on its podcast, “The Afternoon Buzz,” hosted by Ashfield attorney Stewart “Buz” Eisenberg.

This podcast episode welcomed three guests:

• Donna M. Denette, executive director of Children First Enterprises

• Keira Durrett, director of the Williston Northampton Children’s Center, and

• Clare Higgins, executive director of Community Action Pioneer Valley

All three are also regulars on Strategies for Children’s 9:30 calls, where we share the latest news on early education advocacy. Be sure to check out our 9:30 call webpage and sign up to join the call.

On the podcast, Donna Denette talked about the importance of child care as infrastructure, noting, “When we hear that we have to invest in roads and bridges, because people can’t get to work without roads and bridges — Covid made it very clear that people can’t get to work without childcare either.” (more…)

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Photo: mentatdgt from Pexels

The pandemic has taken a terrible toll on child care providers.

Fortunately, help is available. Providers can – and should – apply for federally funded Child Care Stabilization grants. All programs that are licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) are eligible.

Most important of all: Every program that applies and was open on March, 11, 2020, and is open now will receive funding.

The federal government has invested nearly $122 billion in Covid relief funds for K-12 schools.

Early education and care has received historic levels of relief funding as well, and providers should use these funds to stabilize and rebuild.

Most EEC-licensed programs have applied for the grant, but a small percentage still have not.

So here at Strategies for Children, we’re encouraging everyone to apply!

Strategies has been working with EEC to provide technical assistance in applying, and we’ve posted some helpful resources here.

To encourage everyone else to apply for the grant, we’ve shared the perspectives of providers who have already applied in two YouTube videos. (more…)

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Amy O'Leary and Ellis

Screenshot: Ellis Early Learning’s LinkedIn page

 

Behind every good award, there’s a good story about people working for change.

This story is about early childhood programs, Amy O’Leary, an award, and all the work that is being done to revolutionize the experiences very young children have in Massachusetts.

We’ll start with the award. 

Congratulations to Amy O’Leary, the executive director of Strategies for Children, for winning the 2021 Ellis Early Learning (S)Hero Award. She’ll be honored at the Ellis Annual Benefit Event, which will be held virtually on Thursday, October 28, 2021. 

“This is a brand new award that was inspired by Amy herself,” Lauren Cook, the CEO of Ellis Early Learning Center explains. “We wanted to shine a light on how much she does for the field, for adults and children alike.”

Patti Keenan, Ellis’ vice president of Advancement, Community and Equity, says, “I have been struck by how much the power of advocacy makes our work possible.” 

Keenan also praises Amy’s prodigious outreach and education work, especially during the pandemic when Amy and the Strategies team have been hosting “the 9:30 call,” a daily Zoom meeting for the field that features guest speakers, policy updates, and chances for early education professionals to connect with each other. 

And Cook adds, “Amy is so important to the sector, and so important to the history of Ellis.”  (more…)

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U.S. Capitol
 
Now is the time to talk to Congress about the importance of child care.

As the country pushes through the pandemic and rebuilds, child care is sitting in the policy spotlight as a crucial resource that parents need to go back to work.

In addition, Wednesdays are #SolveChildCare Days for advocates, according to the First Five Years Fund, and there are easy quick ways to reach out to Congress that are listed below.

So far, child care has notable support.

As his Build Back Better agenda explains, President Joe Biden would ensure that:

• “no middle-class family pays more than 7 percent of their income for high-quality child care up to age 5”

• “working families most in need won’t pay anything—saving the average family $14,800 per year”

• universal preschool becomes a reality by “partnering with states to offer every parent access to high-quality preschool for 3- and 4- year-olds in the setting of their choice,” and

•the country would have “12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, to help improve the health of new mothers and reduce wage loss” (more…)

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Policymakers need to hear from experts.

That’s why Strategies for Children has created a Speakers’ Bureau, a group of 15 early educators who can talk to the media or testify at the State House.

These early educators were nominated by partner organizations. They represent the racial and geographic diversity of the field as well as the different settings where early educators work. And the early educators participated in a seven-session training program that was held on Zoom and covered:

• knowing your “why”

• Advocacy 101

• equity in early education

• public speaking

• working with legislators

• talking to the media, and

• a session for reflection

Funding was generously provided by the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation.

A key goal of the bureau is to unite early educators into an advocacy community. (more…)

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principles photo

Photo: Yan Krukov from Pexels

What’s the best way to invest in early education and care?

State advocates have come up with nine guiding principles for policy leaders.

These policies are “designed to help create one mixed delivery system of care that is equitable and inclusive of all providers including family child care, public and private child care centers, Head Start, and public schools,” The Alliance for Early Success explains on its website where the nine principles are listed.

These principles also:

• focus on family choice and preferences

• ensure access to quality programs for all families

• create supply that can meet demand, and

• respond to communities’ needs and values

The nine principles are:

make child care affordable
Families living at or below the poverty level would not have to pay a fee for child care. And no family would pay more than 7 percent of their income.

fund the real cost of care
Child care providers should receive government funding that is based on the actual, full costs of providing high-quality care.

enact reforms and policies that are equitable
Equitable reforms and policies should benefit all families and invest additional resources in “communities that have been traditionally underserved.” (more…)

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Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Source: Screenshot U.S. Treasury Facebook page

Forty years ago, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen had the same problem that many of today’s parents do: Yellen needed a babysitter so she could go to work.

She placed a want ad seeking a sitter. Because both she and her husband were economists, they decided to offer a salary that was more than the going wage.

As Yellen explained last week in a speech about child care shortages:

“Classical economics says that it’s not rational to pay a worker more than the market rate, but we hypothesized it could be. The job might be an important one, for example, and a higher wage could encourage someone to do better work. That’s a completely rational reason to pay someone more, especially if the job is some of the most intimate work there is, which is caring for children.”

“Our hypothesis proved correct, at least in our own home. The advertisement led us to a babysitter who took wonderful care of Robert while George and I were at work.”

Today, parents face a far more dire situation. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Dear Friend,

Over the past eighteen months, the health crisis has highlighted so many inequities in so many of our systems. It has also raised broad, concrete awareness of how critical and integral the early education and care sector is to our economy and to the future of this Commonwealth. Many of the challenges that we have faced over the years and worked together to address have been magnified over the last year.

We continue to be inspired by the dedicated and resilient early childhood workforce and its commitment to solving problems, building partnerships, and providing high-quality learning experiences under incredible circumstances.

The childcare crisis has been “seen” and made real to the general public, with babies and young children joining work zooms, stories of parents quitting or turning down jobs due to lack of stable childcare, and program administrators, educators, and family childcare providers responding by staying open to support children and families.

We have an opportunity to build back stronger – to reimagine a better early education and care system that works for all. The resiliency of the Commonwealth is dependent on the improvements we make today. 

It is time to make systemic change. (more…)

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“Compared with K through 12 students, preschoolers are suspended at nearly 3 times the frequency of older students,” Molly Kaplan, the host of the ACLU’s At Liberty podcast, explains in a recent episode called, “How To End the Preschool to Prison Pipeline.”

The episode focuses on the racial and social inequities that even very young children must face.

To explore the issue, Kaplan interviews Rosemarie Allen, a School of Education professor at the State University of Denver.

As Allen’s faculty webpage explains, “Her life’s work is centered on ensuring children have access to high quality early childhood programs that are developmentally and culturally appropriate… Her classes are focused on ensuring teachers are aware of how issues of equity, privilege, and power impact teaching practices.”

On the podcast, Allen describes the cascade of expulsions that young children can face.

“We’re finding that children as young as eight months old began to be suspended and expelled from their child care programs, usually for doing typical things that babies do, like crying or biting,” she says.

(more…)

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Tune in today at 1 p.m. to watch this school year’s first meeting of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

The meeting will cover a number of topics, including an update on EEC’s distribution of federal ARPA Child Care Stabilization Grants.

Now is a great time to catch up with the Board’s discussion of these important policy issues.

Last week at an emergency meeting, the Board voted to give Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy the authority to modify workforce regulations to help alleviate the ongoing workforce shortage.

Today the Board will hear EEC’s initial plan for these workforce modifications – a hot topic for the early childhood field. (more…)

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