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Archive for the ‘Strategies for Children’ Category

 

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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Screenshot: Early educator Camila Pontes 

 

Earlier this month, Governor Charlie Baker overlooked the needs of young children and their families as well early childhood programs when he announced that rapid COVID-19 testing would be available to K-12 schools, but not early education and care and afterschool programs.

Since then, advocates — including Strategies for Children and 250 other organizations – have sent a letter to the governor asking him to reconsider this decision.

Last week, Strategies for Children and Neighborhood Villages also hosted a panel discussion on this pressing issue, “Prioritizing COVID-19 Testing in Early Education and Care.” A recording of this event is posted here.

“… equity demands that public health measures made available to K-12 [schools] also be applied to early education and afterschool as well,” Binal Patel says in her introduction to the panel discussion. Patel is Neighborhood Villages’ Chief Program Officer.

“We know that testing works. It catches positives [test results] before teachers enter classrooms. And it allows us to identify and address potential exposures early.” (more…)

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Photo: Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

 

Please ask Governor Charlie Baker for equity in COVID-19 testing. And check out a panel discussion on testing being held this afternoon. It’s organized by Neighborhood Villages and co-sponsored by Strategies for Children.

Last week, the governor announced that COVID-19 pooled testing would be made available to the state’s schools and school districts, building on earlier testing.

“This new pooled testing resource that we’re going to be providing going forward will give districts the ability to bring more students back into the classroom,” the governor said, according to WBUR.

Unfortunately, this announcement leaves out early education and out-of-school time providers, even though these organizations have been providing essential care for more than 100,000 children.

To address this inequity, Strategies for Children and 250 other organizations sent a letter to the governor, writing in part: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

“We recommit ourselves to achieving racial equity in early childhood and school-age programs through advocacy, action, and policy change. Together we will stand up, speak out, and work to dismantle the historical systems of racism and inequity.”

These are the last two lines in our Collective Statement on Racial Justice that over thirty organizations signed on to in June 2020.

As we reflect on the horrific events this week – a violent assault on our democracy – we must redouble our efforts to work for the change we want to see in local communities, in Massachusetts, and across our country. 

NAEYC has resources on trauma, stress, and violence for early childhood educators working to support children in many different settings along with the guidance in NAEYC’s Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education position statement to support your conversations with them, as well as families and colleagues. If you need more resources or would like to sign your organization on to our Collective Statement, email us.

Despite the trauma of this week, democracy continues. (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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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Happy holidays!

Enjoy the winter break. The blog will return in January.

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Photo: EVG Culture at Pexels

 

Last month, Governor Charlie Baker announced the launch of a COVID-19 rapid testing program for public school districts, charter schools, and other educational settings.

Unfortunately, Phase 1 of this program leaves out early education and care providers.

To address this omission, Amy O’Leary, director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All Campaign, has written a letter to the governor, which says in part:

We ask for equity and to be recognized and supported as essential infrastructure.”

Programs licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) need rapid testing “to mitigate virus spread for children, families and staff” and “to remain sustainable and open.” But, despite months of advocacy, rapid testing requests from child care providers have gone “largely unanswered.”

Public radio station WBUR looked at the COVID-19 challenges that EEC programs face.

“As more people get COVID-19 across the state, it’s inevitable that cases will pop up in preschools and child care, despite health precautions such as wearing masks and rigorous cleaning,” WBUR reports.

“That’s what happened at Nurtury, which operates six centers and supports 130 family child care providers in Greater Boston. Since they reopened their facilities in July, they have had a few isolated cases of the coronavirus. The daily health screenings usually caught any potential cases before a child or caregiver came through the doors.

“But in late October, that changed… A teacher at one location had tested positive. At a different location, a parent had COVID-19. A third site: another positive teacher.” (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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Thanksgiving

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the holiday!

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Here at Strategies for Children, interns are an important part of the work we do. Interns help us with advocacy, research, and social media. And they ask important questions and contribute new ideas, enabling us to expand our reach.

Currently, we have three interns whom we’re happy to introduce: Teresia Kiragu, Nicole Simonson, and Abigail Usherwood. Here’s a little more about each of them.

 

Teresia Kiragu

I am currently a student at Bunker Hill Community College, enrolled in the Business Management program. I chose this course because I have a vision that one day, I will open a non-governmental organization to help children who are vulnerable and give them an opportunity to get a strong education. I’m originally from Kenya, where I worked for an organization that helps under-resourced communities. While working in this organization, I saw a lot of children who are desperately in need; nonetheless, they have the right to be raised well and become contributing members of the society.

During my time at Strategies, I have learned how the Massachusetts state budget distributes funds to schools. (more…)

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