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“Portland City Council today approved $68 million in Portland Children’s Levy community investments over the next three years providing opportunities in education, youth development and family support.

“In its unanimous vote, Council members said they were pleased that Levy funding for 85 programs would go toward reaching city youth affected by generations of racial, ethnic and economic inequity. Some of the Levy partnering organizations will also use funds to respond to emergency needs during the COVID pandemic, especially in Black, Indigenous and communities of color.

“The approved three-year funding from July 2020 – June 2023 includes 22 grants for new programs, 10 expansions for currently funded programs, and 53 continuing grants to maintain current services:

• 16 grants in Early Childhood for $21 million

• 22 grants in After School for $12.6 million

• 16 grants in Child Abuse Prevention/Intervention for $12.2 million

• 12 grants in Foster Care for $8.5 million

• 11 grants in Hunger Relief for $7 million

• and 8 grants in Mentoring for $6.7 million

“Levy funded programs all work toward:

• Preparing children for school;

• Supporting their success inside and outside of the classroom; and

• Reducing racial and ethnic disparities in their well-being and school success.”

“Today’s vote comes after a two-year planning process by the Levy that included community outreach and engagement built around equity, transparency and inclusion in the funding process.”

 

“City Council Approves $68M in Levy community investments,” City of Portland press release, June 17, 2020

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera. Source: City of Lawrence Instagram page

“Are we in a place where we can safely go back to business, go back to work or go back to life?” Lawrence, Mass., Mayor Dan Rivera said last week on a Zoom call with the early childhood community.

This question, Rivera explained, is what the members of the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board have been asking as they grapple with how to emerge from the statewide shutdowns caused by COVID-19.

Rivera serves on the reopening board, and he’s working hard to protect his city, which has had, as of Tuesday, 3,438 COVID-19 cases and 127 deaths. Last month, The Boston Globe reported that Lawrence had become “a coronavirus hot spot, with the fourth-highest per capita rate of infection in Massachusetts.”

On the Zoom call, Rivera provided a mayor’s-eye-view of the crisis and its impact on child care.

Handling disasters isn’t new work for Lawrence. In 2018, gas line explosions shoved the city into crisis mode.

“Because of the Columbia Gas crisis, we know what suffering would look like if we didn’t step up right away,” Rivera explains in a follow-up interview. Continue Reading »

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: Continue Reading »

“Access to high-quality child care, particularly for families with low incomes, has always been a challenge. The coronavirus pandemic has made it even more challenging.”

“…policymakers must recognize how the difficulties of navigating this new child care landscape will be compounded for families with low incomes. These difficulties will be even more challenging for families harmed by systemic barriers related to race, ethnicity, language, and ability. BlackLatinx, and Native American families have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus, with disproportionate rates of death, unemployment, hunger, and housing insecurity.”

“States can equitably gather the full range of family child care needs by:

Expanding data collection methods to include surveys, focus groups, and community mapping

• Using multiple languages, technologies, accessibility supports, and engagement strategies

• Developing partnerships between government agencies, trusted community groups, and parent-led organizations to assist with collecting data, elevating parent voices, and informing families of available options

Oversampling underserved communities to gather insights that would ordinarily be seen as too small to report

Disaggregating data by race and ethnicity, ability, employment sector, age, and income to understand the multiple factors that shape family child care needs, also known as intersectionality”

 

“Child Care Coronavirus Recovery Conversations: Equitable Approaches to Elevating Parent Voices,” by Alycia Hardy, CLASP Blog Post, June 3, 2020

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. Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

When COVID-19 hit, researchers at the University of Oregon wanted to know how the pandemic was affecting families, so they formed RAPID-EC.

The initiative – its full name is Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development (RAPID) – Early Childhood – is an ongoing survey of “early childhood family well-being” that’s “designed to gather essential information in a continuous manner regarding the needs, health promoting behaviors, and well-being of children and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.”

Weekly surveys draw on a “nationally representative sample of parents.”

The survey results aren’t surprising. The pandemic is taking a huge toll on families. But RAPID-EC explains how this is happening, offering insights to policymakers as they figure out how to reopen and rebuild society.

RAPID-EC is sharing its findings in a series of articles posted on Medium.

A RAPID-EC article posted last month points to economic differences, noting: Continue Reading »

 

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. Continue Reading »

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

 

Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released long-awaited reopening guidelines for the state’s child care programs: “Massachusetts Child and Youth Serving Programs Reopen Approach: Minimum Requirements for Health and Safety.”

Programs can reopen in Phase 2 of the state’s four-phase rollout. The exact date for reopening will depend on an ongoing analysis of the state’s COVID-19 data. The guidelines are being released now so that programs can plan for the operational changes they will need to make – and so that they can share these changes with families.

The reopening guidelines set high standards for health and sanitation that should protect children and staff. These standards were developed by an inter-agency working group of education, human services, and public health officials, and they were reviewed by medical experts at Boston Children’s Hospital.

As The Boston Globe reports, “…child care centers can begin to submit plans for reopening as soon as they satisfy newly released health and safety guidelines.” Massachusetts’ planning requirements are more thorough than those of most other states. Continue Reading »

In the face of COVID-19, Massachusetts has shut down early education and care programs and licensed some providers to offer emergency care for the children of essential workers.

To keep the field informed about the pandemic and about what emergency providers are learning, the Department of Early Education and Care has been holding a series of town hall meetings. Please check them out. Recordings of the meetings are posted here.

 

Screenshot of Department of Early Education and Care town hall recording

 

“I have been practicing family child care for the past 13 years in the Dorchester community.”

”Right now I currently have seven children that we are taking care of, and I enjoy it. I have a sense of community. I love what I do. And I wouldn’t dream of not being able to participate and do what I can. We all have to roll up our shirt sleeves and do the best we possibly can during this crisis.”

— Dorothy “Dottie” Williams, family child care provider, EEC town hall meeting, May 27, 2020

*

“We know that no economic reopening or recovery will be successful if employees and working families do not have access to safe, affordable, high-quality child care for their children. We also know that we must think about the needs of children as we reopen the economy.”

— Amy O’Leary, EEC town hall meeting, May 27, 2020

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