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Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

Rosanna Acosta. Photo courtesy of Rosanna Acosta.

 

My name is Rosanna Acosta. I work in Springfield, Mass., as an early childhood educator in my own home daycare, Little Star Daycare. I have been in the field for four years.

The important part of my work is providing the foundational principles of education for young children in a safe and nurturing environment where they can grow and learn. I encourage parents and families to continue this education at home and to nurture their children to support their growth and development.

As an educator, I am always proud when I see my students grow each and every day. One of my favorite memories is when I went grocery shopping once and was hugged by one of my past students who said how much they’ve missed me. The parents told me that even after leaving my program, their child would talk about me and the things they learned and did. This showed me that my work really has an impact on the lives of my students. Regardless of the time that has passed, their early education experiences stick with them as they get older.

My own education started in the Dominican Republic, where I went to elementary and middle school. My family migrated to the United States, where I earned my GED. In 2020, I decided to go back to school, and now I am continuing my education at Springfield Technical Community College, where I am working on earning my CDA (Child Development Associate) certification as well as an associate degree in Early Education Childhood Development. I am also participating in a professional development program. We meet regularly every two months to discuss new activities and developments. (more…)

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Universal child care just got a boost in Massachusetts where a new bill – nicknamed “The Common Start Legislation” – was filed yesterday at the State House.

The bill would “establish a universal system of affordable, high-quality early education and child care for all Massachusetts families, over a 5-year timeline.”

This universal system “would cover early education and care for children from birth through age 5, as well as after- and out-of-school time for children ages 5-12, and for children with special needs through age 15.”

The bill is backed by the Common Start Coalition, a “statewide partnership of organizations, providers, parents, early educators, and advocates” that includes Strategies for Children. A press release is posted here. And a fact sheet explains some of the logistics.

The bill was filed in the House (HD.1960) by Representatives Kenneth Gordon (D-Bedford) and Adrian Madaro (D-East Boston). The Senate version (SD.1307) was filed by Senators Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) and Susan Moran (D-Falmouth).

The Department of Early Education and Care would be responsible for administering the program. (more…)

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Binal Patel. Photo courtesy of Binal Patel.

“Now more than ever, being an early educator or administrator means automatically being an advocate, it has become impossible not to see the inequities and to continue not saying anything about it,” Binal Patel says, sharing her experience of going from an assistant preschool teacher to working in policy and systems building for the field of early childhood.

Patel studied economics and computer science in college. After she graduated, she worked for a few years in marketing, but deep down always knew that being a teacher was her calling. 

“A close friend died in a car crash and that jolted me,” she says. “It just hit me that if I was really passionate about working with kids, and I know that teaching is what I want to do, then what am I waiting for, life is too short.” 

And that’s what she did. She earned a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from New York University, and then worked as a preschool teacher at the Phillips Brooks School in California. 

“I remember the school being nothing short of magical, a Reggio-inspired preschool where the children and their curiosity drove our curriculum and work. I was lucky to have been mentored and coached by a wonderful director, Debra Jarjoura, who saw the potential in me. Ever since then, I’ve never looked back.” 

It was the beginning of a journey. Patel went on to work as a teacher for 4- and 5-year-olds at Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, an independent school in Cambridge, Mass.  (more…)

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Early education and care has a new local champion, the Massachusetts Business Coalition for Early Childhood Education.

Launched this week by 70 Massachusetts CEOs and business leaders, the coalition is, as its website explains, “responding to overwhelming data and research showing a long-standing child care sector crisis, now being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The coalition’s goal is to “to make early childhood education more accessible, affordable, and stable for Massachusetts workers, more rewarding for early childhood professionals, and a point of differentiation in attracting and retaining a strong workforce across the Commonwealth.”

Specifically, the coalition will:

• advocate for state and federal government policies and programs to support “the early childhood education needs of the Massachusetts workforce”

• identify opportunities for strategic action and investments in improving access and affordability as well as program quality and stability

• explore best practices for supporting the early education and care needs of employees, and

• acknowledge that communities of color and working women disproportionately face the impact of poor access to child care and low program quality — and support efforts to advance equitable child care solutions (more…)

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We are delighted to launch our “First Years Tour.”

It’s an event that Strategies for Children does every two years, going to the State House and meeting with the new class of just elected, “first year” state legislators. We congratulate them on becoming state leaders, and we run an early education 101 crash course.

This year, as it is every year, our goal is to build positive relationships with our elected officials.

But, of course, this year, there’s the pandemic, so our tour is actually an ongoing series of Zoom meetings. Last month, to kick off the tour, Strategies’ staff and Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley)co-hosted a legislative briefing for all 17 newly elected House members.

We’ve also invited the legislators to our daily 9:30 calls. And we’re asking everyone in the field to do their own outreach to these new lawmakers.

On the tour, we’re sharing information on the pandemic: (more…)

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Boston Children’s Hospital slide

 

Navigating the pandemic is tough, but one way to keep up on news and trends is through webinars hosted by Boston Children’s Hospital.

In a webinar held last week — “Healthy and Safe Child Care during COVID-19” – a panel of speakers discussed the current challenges of the pandemic as well as some of the progress that’s being made. The webinar featured four speakers and was moderated by Amy O’Leary, Strategies for Children’s director of the Early Education for All Campaign.

Here’s a summary of what was discussed:

Dr. Ana Vaughan-Malloy, the associate medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at Children’s, shared the latest data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Interactive Data Dashboard.

Since early January, she noted, the numbers of virus cases as well as virus-related deaths have all gone done. And while there is an increase in the number of children ages 0-19 who have been infected, Dr. Vaughan-Malloy says this is probably due to increased testing. She also points out that among children who are infected, there are very few hospitalizations.

She discussed the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, pointing out that they do not contain live virus, so they cannot cause recipients to become infected. Both vaccines can have side effects, including fatigue, muscle aches, and headaches. But they only last for a day or two. These symptoms are a sign that “your body is reacting properly to the vaccine.” (more…)

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First Five Years Fund infographic

 

Last week, the First Five Years Fund (FYFF) released the results of a new national poll.

The good news, “a broad coalition of national and swing state voters overwhelmingly support a number of specific proposals related to early learning and care,” a press release explains, adding:

“There is widespread support among voters for Congress and the Biden administration to pursue a variety of early childhood education policies, big and small, to improve access, affordability, and quality.” (more…)

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“Our team has been researching and writing about the need to expand access to high-quality pre-K for many years, but the COVID-19 pandemic brings added urgency to this issue. Pre-K is not a silver bullet, but after a year of children experiencing trauma from significant disruptions in their routines, economic insecurity, illness, and loss, high-quality pre-K can help get them on the path to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

“We currently have a window of opportunity. The Biden administration has expressed interest in universal pre-K. Senator Murray, a former preschool teacher, is set to lead the Senate education committee and is an outspoken proponent of the Child Care for Working Families Act. The Democrats hold a slight majority in both the House and Senate, but do not possess the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. However, we shouldn’t write pre-K off as an issue only supported by Democrats. National polls show there is strong support nationwide among voters from both parties. Oklahoma, one of the country’s most conservative states, was one of the first to create a well-regarded universal preschool program. And there is currently an appetite for investment in pre-K. Universal pre-K did well in the 2020 election at the state and local level. And California’s new masterplan for early education calls for universal pre-K for all four-year-olds.”

 

“Universal Access to Pre-K Should Be Part of Our Economic Recovery,” by Aaron Loewenberg and Abbie Lieberman, New America blog post,
January 14, 2021

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The Covid testing announcement starts at the 15:27 time mark.

 

Good news on Covid testing was announced yesterday:

“Early education providers in Massachusetts will soon be able to access COVID-19 testing at eight sites through a new state pilot program and will be able to order protective equipment at no cost, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said Monday,” a State House News article published by MassLive.com reports.

As we blogged earlier this month, Governor Charlie Baker had announced a Covid testing plan that only covered K-12. To address this inequity, Strategies for Children and 250 other organizations sent a letter to the governor, which said in part:

“The Commonwealth cannot continue to deny early education and care and after-school staff, students, and families the critical health and safety supports provided to K-12 schools.”

Now, we want to thank the Baker administration for listening and taking action. (more…)

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Screenshot: The White House Twitter account

 

Section 1.  Policy. Every student in America deserves a high-quality education in a safe environment. This promise, which was already out of reach for too many, has been further threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. School and higher education administrators, educators, faculty, child care providers, custodians and other staff, and families have gone above and beyond to support children’s and students’ learning and meet their needs during this crisis. Students and teachers alike have found new ways to teach and learn. Many child care providers continue to provide care and learning opportunities to children in homes and centers across the country. However, leadership and support from the Federal Government is needed.Two principles should guide the Federal Government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis with respect to schools, child care providers, Head Start programs, and higher education institutions. First, the health and safety of children, students, educators, families, and communities is paramount. Second, every student in the United States should have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, during and beyond the pandemic.”

 

“Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers,” President Joseph R. Biden Jr., January 21, 2021, Presidential Actions

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