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Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

Source: NIEER

 

This year, in its annual Yearbook, NIEER is taking on the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the midst of this devastating crisis, NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research) is wisely calling on the country to act by drawing on some of the valuable lessons learned from the Great Recession.

As its executive summary explains, the Yearbook offers government policymakers “valuable information for planning short- and long-term responses to the crisis” that includes “information on where children are served, operating schedules, and other program features relevant to planning the education of children in a post-COVID-19 world.”

Since NIEER launched its Yearbook in 2002, states have made consistent but slow progress on investing in early childhood programs.

When the Great Recession took its toll, states cut early childhood spending.

Now: “Despite a brief upturn, pre-K’s long-term growth rate remains lower than before the Great Recession.” And some states “had not fully reversed their quality standards reductions by 2018-2019.” (more…)

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Senator Elizabeth Warren talks to a very young constituent. Source: Senator Warren’s Instagram account

 

“I just want to start by thanking you for all the work you’re doing to keep children safe and to support our community,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said Friday when she joined a Strategies for Children Zoom call, adding:

“This is an unprecedented time for our communities, for our nation, for the entire world — and a time when it is so easy for the most vulnerable, the ones who don’t have their own lobbyists in Washington to get left behind.”

In a lively, inspiring conversation, Warren shared details about the $50 billon child care bailout bill she co-filed with Senator Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) to help the early education and care field survive the coronavirus pandemic and thrive afterwards. Warren also listened to questions and feedback from providers.

“I know that a lot of you on this call have concerns about how the childcare market is going to make it through this very challenging situation. And that is the reason why I’m fighting so hard to help every child care provider weather this crisis and come out on the other side stronger than ever before,” Warren said.

“We’re fighting in Congress to make sure that the funding is there, so that when it’s safe, every child care provider is able to reopen their doors.”

Warren has a three-part plan for the field: (more…)

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Source: Department of Early Education and Care

 

At a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday, Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy shared plans for reopening Massachusetts’ early childhood programs.

A recording of the event is posted here.

“We’re looking toward the future and trying to think [about] and design strategies that can ensure that we are building a more supportive and more solid foundation for child care providers,” Commissioner Sam said at the town hall.

She is proposing a phased opening that builds on Governor Charlie’s Baker’s order that all schools and EEC programs remain closed through June 29, 2020.

As the slide below explains, EEC will engage in a three-step reopening process of assessing the EEC landscape, designing strategies that “addresses health and safety, sustainability, workforce, and financing,” and preparing to put these strategies into action. (more…)

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“ ‘The coronavirus has crystallized in the minds of more people the absolute divisions between socioeconomic groups and between races,’ former Kansas City Mayor Sly James said.

“James tried unsuccessfully in his last year in office to pass a tax to expand preschool in the city.

“ ‘We are going to continue to have these problems until we make sure that every child has an even start at birth,’ he added. ‘That’s a whole lot more than pre-K, but pre-K is the one thing we have to even try to even it out.’ ”

 

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“ ‘We know in the last recession, enrollment, spending and quality standards were cut, and that spending impacts continued well after the economic recovery was underway,’ said NIEER director Steve Barnett. ‘In most states, pre-K is discretionary. But it needs to grow and improve, not just hold on.’ ”

“Unforeseen and daunting budget constraints caused by the pandemic shutdown leave little optimism for maintaining current spending levels, let alone any future investments in early childhood programs.

“ ‘As pre-K programs tend to serve lower and middle-income families, that means that cuts to pre-K like this exacerbate educational inequality,’ Barnett said.”

 

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“ ‘If we’re going to recover, financially, from this pandemic, access to quality affordable early childhood education is going to be a critical piece,’ said Gary Parker, director of the Clark-Fox Institute.”

“Financial Pain Of Pandemic Shutdown Could Stall Gains in Early Childhood Education,” by Ryan Delaney & Elle Moxley, St. Louis Public Radio NPR, April 22, 2020

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Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker announced that public and private schools would be closed for the rest of the school year.

He also announced that the state’s child care closures would remain “in place until June 29, 2020, and may be extended as needed.”

“We know that the lack of child care for many families has created an unanticipated burden and it’s hard to look after young children and balance the demands of working at home under the same roof, but maintaining this structure is the best way to keep our kids and our providers safe from the spread of this insidious disease,” Baker said, according to the State House News Service. “In the coming months, we’ll be working toward slowly restoring child care capacity for both family child care and center-based programs once it can be done safely.”

Department of Early Education and Care Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy also spoke, thanking providers for their hard work. (She appears at the 27:39 timestamp in the video above.)

“The providers across the commonwealth have stepped up to serve our essential workers, and their commitment to children and families has really been the backbone of the essential workforce as we navigate this complicated time,” the commissioner said. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Some 500 organizations, including Strategies for Children, have signed a letter that asks Congress to make a $50 billion investment in child care.

“Child care’s essential status demands dedicated relief that acknowledges the unique needs of a system that was already teetering on the edge of financial viability before this pandemic,” the letter says. “Specifically, we request that Congress provide at least $50 billion in total funding dedicated to child care to offer immediate relief to providers, educators, and families during this crisis.”

“Without these investments, we risk the disintegration of our child care infrastructure, leaving children, families, and child care workers with no system to return to as we recover,” the letter adds.

“At the beginning of this crisis, nearly 50% of child care providers predicted that they would not survive more than two weeks of closures without support; many of these closures have begun, and, without a clear end in sight, the widespread effects are already being felt. Providers that remain open are struggling to cover their operational costs, with reduced enrollment, especially as they try to protect the wellbeing of their workers and the families they serve during this pandemic.” (more…)

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EEC Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy.

 

Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, the commissioner of Massachusetts’ Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), is using a critical tool to tackle the coronavirus crisis: communications.

This week and next, EEC’s communications will open even more because the commissioner is hosting three virtual town hall meetings. To attend, click on one of the dates below to register in advance.

Wednesday, April 8, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 9, 10-11 a.m.

Thursday, April 16, 3-4 p.m.

These events will be recorded, so even if you can’t log in at the scheduled time, you will receive an email with a link to the recording.

“We know right now everyone has more questions than answers, and there are many urgent decisions needed to support your staff, your families, and your communities,” Commissioner Sam said in a recent email. (more…)

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“The 2008 recession led to significant decreases in budgets for state pre-K programs. Prior to 2008, state pre-K funding had been increasing each year. However, from 2010 through 2013, state spending declined by as much as $548 million per year. When funding fell, so did enrollment and funding per child, meaning more children and families missed out on the educational and financial benefits of high-quality preschool. With most state pre-K programs targeted to children from low-income families, this decline fell primarily on the children who most benefit from the additional support provided by a year of preschool prior to entering kindergarten. While several states have been investing in early learning programs in recent years, past recessions indicate that these programs are likely at risk due to state budget shortfalls, making it more important than ever for the federal government to provide funding to support access to high-quality early education.”

 

“Congress Needs To Ensure Educational Equity in the Wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic,” by Viviann Anguiano, Marcella Bombardieri, Neil Campbell, Antoinette Flores, Steven Jessen-Howard, Laura Jimenez, and Simon Workman, the Center for American Progress, April 2, 2020

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Here at Strategies for Children, we have been inspired by the early education and care community’s collaborative spirt.

We are in this together.

People at the local, state and national level are all fighting for children, families, educators, providers and the early education and care system.

To contribute to this effort we have created a new page on our website that we will update frequently with information and resources.

We also want to update you on what has been happening so far:

On Friday, March 27th, 2020, the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Act was signed into law. This legislation will provide critical help for the early childhood education sector, including these highlights reported by NAEYC: (more…)

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To ward off the devastation of the coronavirus, Vermont is making a historic investment in early education and care.

“The state has promised a massive bailout to Vermont’s child care providers to stabilize the sector amid the coronavirus pandemic,” VTDigger reported last week, adding:

“In guidance issued last night, the Department for Children and Families assured child care facilities that the state will cover the lost tuition they would have received from families if they hadn’t shut their doors to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Aly Richards, CEO of the nonprofit organization Let’s Grow Kids, told VTDigger:

“That will put us first in the country in supporting the early childhood education field to be able to literally reopen at the end of this. Otherwise it would have been a real question, for probably every single program in Vermont.”

To keep early childhood providers up to date on this new policy and its implications, Let’s Grow Kids has posted a list of information and resources that explains the details and links to more information.

Included on this list are ways that essential employees can find emergency child care, a link to use to file for unemployment benefits, and information on how EEC programs can apply for financial support.

The goal is to provide real-time support. (more…)

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