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Archive for the ‘Strategies for Children’ Category

SFC radio

Photo: RODNAE Productions from Pexels

This month, WHMP, a Northampton, Mass., radio station featured a discussion on early education on its podcast, “The Afternoon Buzz,” hosted by Ashfield attorney Stewart “Buz” Eisenberg.

This podcast episode welcomed three guests:

• Donna M. Denette, executive director of Children First Enterprises

• Keira Durrett, director of the Williston Northampton Children’s Center, and

• Clare Higgins, executive director of Community Action Pioneer Valley

All three are also regulars on Strategies for Children’s 9:30 calls, where we share the latest news on early education advocacy. Be sure to check out our 9:30 call webpage and sign up to join the call.

On the podcast, Donna Denette talked about the importance of child care as infrastructure, noting, “When we hear that we have to invest in roads and bridges, because people can’t get to work without roads and bridges — Covid made it very clear that people can’t get to work without childcare either.” (more…)

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Photo: mentatdgt from Pexels

The pandemic has taken a terrible toll on child care providers.

Fortunately, help is available. Providers can – and should – apply for federally funded Child Care Stabilization grants. All programs that are licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) are eligible.

Most important of all: Every program that applies and was open on March, 11, 2020, and is open now will receive funding.

The federal government has invested nearly $122 billion in Covid relief funds for K-12 schools.

Early education and care has received historic levels of relief funding as well, and providers should use these funds to stabilize and rebuild.

Most EEC-licensed programs have applied for the grant, but a small percentage still have not.

So here at Strategies for Children, we’re encouraging everyone to apply!

Strategies has been working with EEC to provide technical assistance in applying, and we’ve posted some helpful resources here.

To encourage everyone else to apply for the grant, we’ve shared the perspectives of providers who have already applied in two YouTube videos. (more…)

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Amy O'Leary and Ellis

Screenshot: Ellis Early Learning’s LinkedIn page

 

Behind every good award, there’s a good story about people working for change.

This story is about early childhood programs, Amy O’Leary, an award, and all the work that is being done to revolutionize the experiences very young children have in Massachusetts.

We’ll start with the award. 

Congratulations to Amy O’Leary, the executive director of Strategies for Children, for winning the 2021 Ellis Early Learning (S)Hero Award. She’ll be honored at the Ellis Annual Benefit Event, which will be held virtually on Thursday, October 28, 2021. 

“This is a brand new award that was inspired by Amy herself,” Lauren Cook, the CEO of Ellis Early Learning Center explains. “We wanted to shine a light on how much she does for the field, for adults and children alike.”

Patti Keenan, Ellis’ vice president of Advancement, Community and Equity, says, “I have been struck by how much the power of advocacy makes our work possible.” 

Keenan also praises Amy’s prodigious outreach and education work, especially during the pandemic when Amy and the Strategies team have been hosting “the 9:30 call,” a daily Zoom meeting for the field that features guest speakers, policy updates, and chances for early education professionals to connect with each other. 

And Cook adds, “Amy is so important to the sector, and so important to the history of Ellis.”  (more…)

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Policymakers need to hear from experts.

That’s why Strategies for Children has created a Speakers’ Bureau, a group of 15 early educators who can talk to the media or testify at the State House.

These early educators were nominated by partner organizations. They represent the racial and geographic diversity of the field as well as the different settings where early educators work. And the early educators participated in a seven-session training program that was held on Zoom and covered:

• knowing your “why”

• Advocacy 101

• equity in early education

• public speaking

• working with legislators

• talking to the media, and

• a session for reflection

Funding was generously provided by the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation.

A key goal of the bureau is to unite early educators into an advocacy community. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Dear Friend,

Over the past eighteen months, the health crisis has highlighted so many inequities in so many of our systems. It has also raised broad, concrete awareness of how critical and integral the early education and care sector is to our economy and to the future of this Commonwealth. Many of the challenges that we have faced over the years and worked together to address have been magnified over the last year.

We continue to be inspired by the dedicated and resilient early childhood workforce and its commitment to solving problems, building partnerships, and providing high-quality learning experiences under incredible circumstances.

The childcare crisis has been “seen” and made real to the general public, with babies and young children joining work zooms, stories of parents quitting or turning down jobs due to lack of stable childcare, and program administrators, educators, and family childcare providers responding by staying open to support children and families.

We have an opportunity to build back stronger – to reimagine a better early education and care system that works for all. The resiliency of the Commonwealth is dependent on the improvements we make today. 

It is time to make systemic change. (more…)

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beach

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

 

The blog is going on vacation. See you in September!

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Vanessa Pashkoff

Vanessa Pashkoff

Vanessa Pashkoff spent time in high school and college working as a nanny. And she was always inspired by “the spark of children and wonder,” she says. But as a student in McMaster University, in Canada, where she’s from, she earned a degree in political science. 

“I was convinced I was going to be a social worker.” 

A friend, however, was going to teach in Korea, and that inspired Pashkoff to look into teaching abroad. She applied to a program, got accepted, took a crash course in teaching English as a second language and spent a year teaching a preschool class in Japan. 

“I lived in Kobe,” Pashkoff recalls, “and I loved it. It was amazing to help people learn and to see another environment and the cultural differences. It really was what I was looking for without knowing it.” 

“I created some incredible relationships with families, and I am still in touch with them to this day.” 

While she was in Japan, Pashkoff decided to apply to Brock University in Ontario, Canada, so she could earn a degree in education. 

“It was the kind of thing where everyone else seemed to know that I was going to end up being an educator or a teacher, and I just never wanted to admit it,” she says.  (more…)

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Elliot Haspel, a former fourth grade teacher and policy expert, is calling for “a new form of local infrastructure,” the “early childhood district.”

These districts would create an easy way for parents to understand what – and where — their early education and care options are.

Haspel explains his take on this approach in a new white paper posted on the policy website Capita:

“Child care is not yet a right, and it lacks this kind of easily recognized governmental entity to oversee and provide services. If Kindergarten finds you, child care requires you to find it hidden within a deep, dark forest.”

“In a sentence: Early childhood districts are like school districts but for children five and under.”

This kind of local governance of early education is a concept that Strategies for Children explored in 2019, when we released the policy brief, “Local Governance for Early Childhood: Lessons from Leading States.” We pointed to North Carolina as a good example. (more…)

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Photo: mentatdgt from Pexels

Now is the time — as we’ve blogged here and here — to apply for the Child Care Stabilization Grants that will be distributed by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

Here are a number of resources that can help as you apply for this noncompetitive grant.

NEW! Strategies for Children will host two information sessions TOMORROW. Here’s the registration information:

Wednesday, August 11: 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Ju7XaNRgQMOm1z1xZtEt2g

Wednesday, August 11: 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. (with Spanish interpretation)
https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_X6nwmqzVREicD1aJ5nGeeg

Strategies has also created an EEC Child Care Stabilization Grant Information Page on its website where you can find:

• SFC’s Guide to the Grant information sheets for GSA and FCC providers

• Google forms to collect questions and feedback for EEC

• upcoming information sessions and provider panels — as well as recordings of previous events, and

• additional application resources from EEC

EEC Resources

EEC Child Care Stabilization Grant: EEC’s grant information page has a number of useful resources, including:

GSA Application PDF

FCC Application PDF

User Guide

Video Library, and the

C3 Formula Calculator

For even more help with the application contact the ARPA Child Care Stabilization Grants Help Desk Support at 833-600-2074.

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Act now! It’s time for early education and care providers in Massachusetts to apply for federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has just released the application. Licensed providers can use their LEAD login information to apply here.

As we’ve blogged, the funds — $314 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Child Care Stabilization money – will be distributed through an accessible process.

Your program can receive up to six monthly payments to support operating costs.

In an email, EEC Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy adds, “This unprecedented influx of federal funds is aimed at providing short-term financing for child care providers to help sustain program operations despite enrollment fluctuations and ensure the continued availability of care in under-resourced communities.”

Who is eligible? (more…)

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