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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Here at Strategies for Children, COVID-19 has kept our advocacy focus on funding, health, and safety. Now that early childhood programs are reopening, we want to shine a spotlight on mental health.

As children, parents, and staff members continue to navigate life during a pandemic, they may need help managing mental health challenges.

Young children face a particularly high risk of being negatively impacted by the pandemic, Aditi Subramaniam said during a Strategies for Children Zoom call. She is the Early Childhood Mental Health Partnership Manager at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. 

Children may experience intense feelings or regress developmentally, and it may be emotionally tough for them to engage in social distancing, Subramaniam added. Fortunately, this risk can be mitigated by ensuring that children receive nurturing, responsive, and consistent care from caregivers and providers.

To help children, caregivers and providers can draw on several resources. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Massachusetts’ legislators are listening, so please share your experiences.

Last week, the state’s Joint Committee on Education held part one of a virtual hearing on early education and care during the COVID-19 emergency. A video of that hearing is posted here.

Tomorrow — Tuesday, July 7, 2020 — the committee will hold part two.

You can join in by emailing written testimony through tomorrow at 5 p.m. to both of the committee’s chairs. Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) can be reached at Alice.Peisch@mahouse.gov. And the email address for Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) is Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov.

It’s crucial to tell state legislators about the challenges that early educator and care providers will face as they reopen their programs. And, sadly, it’s also important to discuss that fact that some programs will not be financially able to reopen.

“Over the last two weeks, we have heard heartbreaking stories from directors and family child care of providers who are borrowing from their reserves in the hope of a child care bailout that may never come,” Amy O’Leary wrote in the testimony she shared at last week’s hearing. O’Leary is the director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All Campaign. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

 

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

COVID-19 has not only created a health crisis and an economic crisis, but also a child care crisis.

A persistent and troubling concern is that child care programs that closed during the pandemic will shut down permanently, and parents in need of this care won’t be able to return to work, crippling the economy’s ability to stabilize.

There is, however, hope.

As the country rebuilds, it could invest wisely in child care programs, helping them to recover and emerge stronger.

Here are three takes on how this could occur.

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Families and businesses benefit from child care, JD Chesloff explains in a blog for ReadyNation, a part of Council for a Strong America, a national nonprofit that promotes children’s success. Chesloff is the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and a ReadyNation advisory board member.

“Child care allows parents to work, be more productive while on the job, and reach higher levels of professional achievement. Nurturing learning environments prepare young children for kindergarten and future achievement in school and, eventually, in the workplace.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

This week, there are two important events that will help boost early childhood advocacy efforts.

The first event: Strategies for Children is adding a new, one-hour webinar to its Advocacy 101 series.

These conversations about the basics of early education and care advocacy are grounded in the current context of reopening child care programs, and you can watch live on three dates (click on the date to register for that session):

 

Advocacy 101: Reopening Child Care 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020, at 4 p.m.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020, at 5 p.m.

Thursday, June 18, 2020, at 11 a.m.

 

Amy O’Leary, the director of Strategies’ Early Education for All Campaign, will discuss reopening as well as ways to get involved in local, state, and federal advocacy. Amy will talk about who to call, what to say, and when to take action.

The second event: (more…)

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Photo: Gustavo Fring. Source: Pexels

 

As the country moves through the coronavirus crisis, states will be able to learn from each other about how to navigate the pandemic and reopen early education and care problems.

The starting line for all states is reviewing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But individual states are taking their own approach.

A number of national organizations are tracking state responses, including the Hunt Institute, a national nonprofit organization that has released a summary of state actions.

“States are devising a number of health and safety protocols to address the new situation we’re in, so that they can promote child development while complying with social distancing guidelines,” Ryan Telingator, Strategies for Children’s new intern, says. Telingator has been monitoring these varied approaches.

Massachusetts, for example, has largely steered its own course. Governor Baker chose to close child care programs when coronavirus first hit the country hard and only offer emergency child care. Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina and a handful of other states made the same choice, and so did New York City. (more…)

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The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is listening. So the field has to keep talking.

Last week, EEC released reopening guidelines, a 32-page document outlining minimum requirements for health and safety. Almost immediately, early educators and child care providers raised a number of concerns.

In response, EEC has updated its guidelines.

“I know there is uncertainty and anxiety. I assure you EEC’s approach is meant to be supportive. We intend for providers to be having conversations with parents—collaborating together on how to put in place protective measures that meet children’s developmental needs as well as keep staff and families safe,” EEC Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy said in a letter to the field.

“Please note that all programs may choose when to reopen. It will remain up to individual programs to assess their readiness to implement the reopening requirements.”

EEC’s “Reopening Process Overview” provides a three-point timeline. (more…)

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We collectively mourn the killing of George Floyd and all victims of police brutality and racial violence.

We call for justice for them, their families, and their communities.

We stand with and for Black communities and we state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter.

_______________________________________

 

We reflect on our own work serving children and families in Massachusetts.

We acknowledge the institutionalized racism that has created disparities in the education, housing, employment, and health of the families that we serve.

We consider our own biases and those in our organizations and communities.

We commit to examine our individual and organizational practices, including a commitment to raising underrepresented voices within the early childhood field.

We call on all our elected officials at the federal, state, and local level to examine policies, funding, and practices with regard to race and racial disparities.

We call on Governor Baker and the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) to consider the racial and gender implications of major structural changes to child care in the short- and long-term.

We cannot keep adding to the ranks of the working poor and especially disadvantaging women of color for whom the costs of inequitable compensation are greater.

_______________________________________

 

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.

 

Acre Family Child Care

Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs

Boston Opportunity Agenda

Clarendon Early Education Services, Inc.

Commonwealth Children’s Fund

Early Care & Education Consortium

Early Childhood Consulting Group

East Boston Social Centers

Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath)

Edward Street Child Services

For Kids Only Afterschool

Governmental Strategies, Inc.

Harbor City School

Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, UMass Boston

Jumpstart

Little Folks Community Day Care Center, Inc.

Neighborhood Villages

Nurtury

Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership

Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children (MAAEYC)

Massachusetts Child Care Resource and Referral Network

Massachusetts Head Start Association

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

ParentChild+

Parenting Journey

Raising a Reader MA

SEIU Local 509

Strategies for Children

The Boston Foundation

The Care Institute

The Community Group, Lawrence, MA

The Williston Northampton Children’s Center

United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Wellesley Centers for Women

YMCA of Greater Boston

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Briana Lamari

Briana Lamari went to Stonehill College thinking she would be a high school English teacher.

But after doing a school placement with a teacher who felt she couldn’t control what went on in her classroom because of all the policies made outside that classroom, Lamari’s interest began to shift.

In a sociology class, Lamari studied inequality in education. And during Lamari’s senior year in college, when she was looking for an internship, her sociology professor, Sinead Chalmers, who is also a senior associate at the Rennie Center, told her about Strategies for Children.

“I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to go beyond Stonehill and see education on a larger scale, especially at the state level. And it has turned out to be just that, the opportunity to see the landscape of early education and policy.” (more…)

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Last week, Amy O’Leary participated in a town hall meeting on child care and paid family leave organized by the Coalition for Social Justice. (The meeting starts at the 10:09 time mark.)

Launching the meeting, Jynai McDonald, the family child care coordinator for SEIU 509, thanked Congress for its initial $7 billion support of child care programs, and she called for more advocacy.

Child care, McDonald says, needs $50 billion.

Other speakers addressed the need for paid family leave that can protect parents and caregivers from having to choose between caring for children and relatives and losing their jobs. This is particularly important now given the threat of COVID-19 and the need for people who get sick from this virus to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

Amy, the director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All Campaign, shared “what we know” about child care now. (more…)

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