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Archive for the ‘Professional development & preparation’ Category

State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 
The Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee has released its FY ’22 budget.

It’s a $47.6 billion budget proposal, that’s slightly higher, the Gloucester Daily Times reports, than the $45.6 billion budget that Governor Charlie Baker released in January.

“The House budget proposal calls for a 2.6% spending increase from fiscal 2021 and expects the state to collect $30.1 billion in tax revenue (the revenue drops to $24.3 billion after factoring in payments to the pension fund, MBTA and state reserves),” according to MassLive.com.

For early education and care, the House’s proposed budget specifics include:

• $358.9 million to fund child care for children served by the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Transitional Assistance

• $298.7 million in child care funds to support income-eligible families

• $20 million for a salary reserve to increase rates for center-based early education

• $15 million for Head Start

• $12 million for child care resource and referral agencies

• $5 million for pre-school expansion efforts

• $5 million for professional development opportunities, and

• $2.5 million for the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Grant (more…)

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Screenshot: The Itsy Bitsy Zoomcast Project

Five months ago, in the middle of the pandemic, Elizabeth Charland-Tait and Sheila Gould launched a Zoomcast series.

They nicknamed it the Itsy Bitsy Zoomcast Project (IBZP), although the formal name is “The More We Get Together: Conversations that Build Bridges in Early Childhood.”

Gould is a Holyoke Community College (HCC) professor and the coordinator of the Early Childhood Programs. Charland-Tait is an early childhood lead coach for Massachusetts’ Western StrongStart Professional Development Centers.

Their goal is to have meaningful conversations that connect early childhood professionals in Western Massachusetts.

(more…)

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Photo: Gagan Kaur, from Pexels

We are thrilled that Congress has passed and President Joseph Biden has signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

This new funding will spread much needed aid across the country, and it includes $39 billion to rebuild child care. 

According to estimates, Massachusetts will receive an additional $510 million for child care. This investment is critical for stabilizing the state’s early education and care system.

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) “plans to use the federal stimulus funds as part of a larger set of grants to child care providers to ensure the viability of the industry, while also fostering innovation across the field to meet the evolving needs of working families and employers through COVID recovery period,” the department explains in its stimulus funds document.

(more…)

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Screenshot of a report from the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing

 

Faced with the devastation caused by the pandemic, the early childhood community has been asking how it can rebuild and become stronger than ever.

To facilitate this work, the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation (IEELI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston hosted a series of webinars last summer.

The webinars – “Reinventing Child Care in Massachusetts” – drew more than 700 early childhood professionals and other stakeholders who shared ideas for building an early childhood system that would be:

• high-quality

• accessible to all families

• able to provide professional compensation to educators based on their skill and experience

• able to offer professional and leadership development, and

• active in addressing racial inequities

Once the series was done, IEELI teamed up with Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing (NOW), part of Boston Medical Center’s Vital Village Networks, and the two organizations ran an Action Lab 90 Day Challenge.

The 90 Day Challenge is a tool that Vital Village Networks uses to promote “social connections, cooperative development of social innovations (co-design), team-based iterative learning, and collective actions by using an equity framework.” (more…)

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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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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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Sarah Mills

How do you go from being a preschool teacher to working as a legislative aide in the Massachusetts State House? 

For Sarah Mills, it’s all about loving the work of interacting with young children. 

In elementary and middle school, Mills enjoyed helping out with infants and toddlers who were enrolled in her public school’s preschool program. 

As a Syracuse University college student, Mills got a work-study job at her campus’ early education center. 

And when she came to Boston to attend graduate school at Simmons University, she needed to work full-time, so she found a job at KinderCare in downtown Boston where she spent half her time working with infants and half her time working in the afterschool program. 

“When I was younger, I just loved kids; they were so much fun to hang out with,” Mills recalls. “It’s really exciting being with kids who are ages zero to five because you get to watch them go through so many significant milestones, whether it’s their first steps or their first words. Being with kids at this age is truly joyful.” 

“Another wonderful thing is that you get to know the families. I had a lot of families with first-time babies, and so I had the responsibility of helping to educate them and helping them to feel comfortable, because it’s scary to drop your child off for the first time with people you’ve just met. And I was working before the paid family leave law. So I saw parents who had no choice but to bring children who were six weeks or 12 weeks old to our program.”  (more…)

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House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

In my nearly 30 years in and around state government, and currently as the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, I’ve learned that three elements are necessary to move a policy agenda: unassailable data and research; a robust grassroots field operation; and a champion… someone who makes the issue their top priority. For years – since I worked for the Early Education for All Campaign and long before – Strategies for Children has produced great data and organized and energized the field. And for years, Speaker Bob DeLeo has been the champion.

As the Speaker ends an extraordinary career in public service, I’ve been reflecting on his determined and effective leadership in early education and care. It’s an issue that is a perennial priority for the Roundtable and one that has afforded me the opportunity to work closely with DeLeo. Early on, he understood the connection between high quality early education and economic growth. In a seminal speech before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce in March of 2015, the Speaker noted the innate connection between economic growth and education, calling early childhood “game changing” and urging the business community to take a leadership role in advancing public policy in this area. (more…)

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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…)

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“What we know from the research on reading – and what was just confirmed by the national Reading for Understanding Initiative – is that kids need more language. They need more knowledge. And they need foundational mechanical skills to be able to read individual words automatically,” Joan Kelley says.

“The problems that are hardest to address later on are the language and knowledge gaps. Kids need high dosages of rich language, which is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year job for families and educators. But no one tells families what their specific role is or how to get this job done.”

So Kelley came up with an app for that.

An alumna of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Kelley has seen children struggle with reading for years – and so has the rest of the country. As we’ve blogged before, even in Massachusetts, a state known for educational excellence, third grade reading levels have lagged, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. We highlighted this in our 2010 report, “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” which Kelley contributed to.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made educational gaps worse by forcing districts to close schools and erode children’s learning opportunities. A study published by the American Educational Research Association says that students experienced a “COVID slide,” a more stark version of the “summer slide” learning loss that normally occurs when schools let out in June. The study estimates that because COVID-19 “abbreviated the 2019-2020 school year,” students would lose “roughly 63% to 68% of the learning gains in reading,” so only about two-thirds of what they would have learned if the pandemic had not occurred. (more…)

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