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The CARES Act gave more money to Delta Airlines, just that one company, than the entire child care industry as a whole.”

— Claire Suddath, Bloomberg Businessweek Senior Writer, on Amanpour & Company, December 8, 2021

In October, the Prenatal to 3 Policy Impact Center released a video that looks at how families fare in different states.

“The Same Family, Different Support simulation brings the Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap to life and compares the level of resources available to a sample family of three based on each state’s actual policy choices,” the center says on its website.

“This unique analysis clearly illustrates that there is substantial variation in available resources during the critical prenatal to age 3 period, based on state policy choices.”

One key finding: “the level of resources a family has available to meet their basic needs varies substantially, from over $42,000 per year in DC, to less than $22,000 in North Carolina.”

The center found that “state minimum wage policies and child care subsidy policies drive most of the variation.”

Continue Reading »

U.S Capitol

Photo: Thuan Vo from Pexels

The federal Build Back Better bill would make a historic investment in helping the country recover from the pandemic – including funding for early education and care that could revolutionize programs for young children.

The first step would be to reverse the damage caused by the pandemic.

As an article from the Center for American Progress explains, “While the relief funds included in the American Rescue Plan Act have limited the fallout from [the pandemic’s] unprecedented challenges, the fact remains that a market-based child care system cannot adequately serve American families.”

The article adds:

“The United States currently spends less than 0.5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on early care and education, ranking near the bottom of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.

“The effect of this chronic underinvestment is that under current law, very few children access subsidized care—even among those who are eligible. The Administration for Children and Families estimates that in 2017, of the 13.5 million children who were eligible for child care subsidies, only 1 in 7 received them.” Continue Reading »

 
This is a guest blog post by Anne Douglass, professor of Early Care and Education at UMass Boston and the founding executive director of the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation.

Anne Douglass

Anne Douglass

Early educators are smart, kind, engaging, and supportive and dedicated.

Here at UMass Boston, we also know that early educators are entrepreneurial leaders. That’s why our programs provide an education that boosts their leadership, creativity, and innovation – all to create a better early learning experience for children.

Examples of early educators’ entrepreneurship abound. Last month, the Cape Cod Times featured a front page story about Nature Preschool Explorers, a nature-based preschool at the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable. The four-year-old school was touted as an example of the wave of educational programs focused on the outdoors that are popping up across the country.

The school was cofounded by Diana Stinson, an alum of UMass Boston’s Post-Master’s Leadership Certificate in Early Education Research, Policy, and Practice (PMC) offered by our Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation (Early Ed Leadership Institute). Continue Reading »

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation holds the position that childcare is a two-generation workforce issue because it is essential to supporting the workforce of today and vital to developing our workforce of tomorrow. There is not enough access to affordable, quality childcare which makes it difficult for parents trying to enter, re-enter, or stay in the workforce. In addition, the pandemic exacerbates existing issues in the childcare system and creates an impossible situation for parents, employers, and childcare providers. There are working parents who struggle to balance home childcare and work, children who miss valuable educational opportunities, childcare providers who are fighting to stay open and serve their communities, and employers wondering how and when their employees with children can return to work.

“Successful solutions can only be reached by jointly addressing gaps across affordability, access, flexibility, and quality.”

“Untapped Potential: Economic Impact of Childcare Breakdowns on U.S. States,” Center for Education and Workforce at The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, November 30, 2021

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Screenshot: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston website

The title of new article posted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston makes an optimistic point: “The solution is no secret, we can fix child care.”

Child care is broken, the article’s authors Sarah Ann Savage and her colleagues concede, but “child care providers, program directors, and other field experts know how to make high-quality care and early education accessible to all. It’s really no secret: Major public investment and committed political will are what’s needed.”

“The task is big, but it is not unprecedented,” the article adds. “It took both political will and public investment to implement our public K-12 system. And today there are bellwethers suggesting the time may finally be ripe to revisit our relatively minimal public investment in child care.”

This willingness and public investment would help address nagging challenges such as the high cost of early education and care, especially for low-income families.

“Models indicate that eliminating child care expenses for low-income families and capping child care expenses at 7% of income for others would decrease poverty by 40% among New Englanders in families that use child care. Covering or mitigating child care costs would also be a small step toward equity, as the poverty reduction is greatest for Black and Hispanic families.” Continue Reading »

 

Last week at the State House, early education was in the spotlight.

The Joint Committee on Education held a hearing and heard testimony on “bills related to Early Education and Care, Kindergarten, and Literacy.”

“During a virtual hearing of the Joint Committee on Education, child-care providers and advocates joined lawmakers in calling for systemic changes to an industry known for its harsh economic imbalance,” the Boston Globe reports. “Massachusetts has some of the highest child-care costs in the nation, yet the state’s child-care workers earn a median salary of $37,000 a year, barely a living wage for someone with children.”

Video of the hearing and a list of the bills is posted here.

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Among the bills that were discussed is the Common Start legislation (H.605S.362), which “would establish a system of affordable, high-quality early education and child care for all Massachusetts families, over a 5-year timeline,” according to a fact sheet. Strategies for Children serves on the Common Start steering committee, and our executive director Amy O’Leary was one of more than 70 individuals who submitted written testimony in support of the bill. Continue Reading »

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photo: Engin Akyurt from Pexels

 
Enjoy the holiday!

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Photo: Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

 
There’s some good news for early education in Washington, D.C.

The Build Back Better bill has been passed by the House, bringing it one step closer to becoming law.

Next, the bill will have to make it through the Senate.

As Representative Katherine Clark (D-Massachusetts) explains, this legislation is vitally important.

“The Build Back Better Act is a once-in-a-generation investment in families. It will help us recover today and rebuild a stronger tomorrow. With this bill, we are fundamentally improving the lives of workers, women, children, and seniors and ensuring that the wealthiest Americans and corporations pay their fair share,” Clark says in a statement.

“When I first ran for Congress, I had a dream that every child in America could have access to a great start through universal pre-kindergarten. With today’s bill, what was once a moonshot will soon be reality. What’s more, we are lowering the cost of child care for 20 million families and finally honoring our child care workers with livable wages.” Continue Reading »

“A growing body of research points to the enormous benefits to children and program quality when early educators from all levels of the field have access to relational and entrepreneurial leadership training. Relational leadership recognizes the expertise or authority of each person to exercise leadership to influence change, regardless of formal titles or roles. Entrepreneurial leadership focuses on designing and leading efforts to solve seemingly intractable problems for which there are no existing or predefined solutions.

“Early educators who receive such training experience transformative shifts in their mindsets. They redefine leadership from something that is hierarchical to leadership that is highly collaborative, relational, and purpose-driven. They connect their new understanding of leadership with their past and present actions and capabilities. They see themselves as leaders, often for the first time.

“What do early educators do with their new leadership skills? They pursue entrepreneurial ventures that increase the supply of quality child care in their communities. They provide expert testimony to lawmakers and share their expertise with media to educate the public about the importance of investing in the field. They experiment with innovations that improve the quality of their programs.”

“Early investment in child care workforce may pay big dividends,” by Anne Douglass, CommonWealth Magazine, November 15, 2021

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