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Posts Tagged ‘#earlyed’

“There was never much doubt that House and Senate Democrats would return Ron Mariano [the House Speaker] and Karen Spilka [the Senate President] to the top posts in the Legislature for the two-year term that started Wednesday, but the occasion did produce glimpses into the policy areas where each veteran legislative leader will attempt to wield their supermajority margins in the coming months.”

“Mariano and Spilka voiced mutual interest Wednesday in addressing the slow-burning crisis in the early education and child care sector, where providers are coping with widespread staffing shortages, workers are languishing on low wages and families are struggling to pay for care, if they can even find available slots.

“ ‘We know how important early education and care is, both to addressing the “she-cession” that worsened during the pandemic and in preparing our children to learn. Simply put, it is past time to update the way we imagine and support this crucial sector,’ Spilka said.

“The Senate unanimously approved a bill in July seeking a years-long expansion of subsidies, increased pay and benefits for workers, and permanent grants to stabilize providers, but the timing of the bill’s passage left the House with little time to fashion a response.

“Mariano’s comments on Wednesday could signal that he wants his chamber to get more involved in the issue this time around, though he stopped short of embracing the expansive proposal backed by the Senate last session.

“ ‘This session, the full attention of the House will be directed at examining ways to further support our vital early education and care workforce,” Mariano said. “This workforce is made up largely of women and often women of color. As we work to build a system to provide affordable access to quality child care for Massachusetts families, I was proud of the work done last session to increase salaries and other key supports for EEC workers, and I’m confident that the Legislature can do more on this critical issue.’ ”

“Speaker Mariano and President Spilka share some top priorities in new legislative session,” by Chris Lisinski and Sam Drysdale, State House News Service, posted on WGBH’s website, January 4, 2023

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“The strength of Massachusetts is its families. And they sorely need our help. Our state has some of the highest child care costs in the country. Our care workers don’t make a livable wage.

“So today, let us pledge to be the first state to solve the child care crisis. Let’s finally pass legislation in line with Common Start to make sure every family pays what they can afford, and that care workers are paid what they deserve. This is something our families, workers, and businesses all agree on.”

“Read Gov. Maura Healey’s inaugural speech,” WBUR Newsroom, January 05, 2023

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Krongkan “Cherry” Bovornkeeratiroj

Krongkan “Cherry” Bovornkeeratiroj

“In Amherst, I had the chance to volunteer with young children, and that changed my life,” Krongkan “Cherry” Bovornkeeratiroj, an intern at Strategies for Children (SFC), told us in a recent interview. 

This story started six years ago when Cherry moved from Thailand, where she worked as a financial auditor, to Amherst, Mass., where her husband is a graduate student — and where she volunteered to work in a preschool program. 

Cherry was used to the more formal educational approach that she had experienced in Thailand. Amherst was different.

“Our school system focuses heavily on academics and rarely teaches us to speak for ourselves. Most of the time we listen and listen.”

“The first day I walked into the classroom in Amherst, I saw kids enjoying activities. There were no chairs in rows.”

It was a high-quality program where children’s feedback was valued. For example, in the case of one child bumping into another, teachers would ask what the harmed child needed: a hug, an apology, an ice pack? 

 “Instead of lecturing, teachers asked students questions and encouraged them to think critically,” Cherry says.

This volunteer experience prompted her to apply to graduate school.

“But when I was admitted, I found out I was pregnant.” And the pandemic hit. So Cherry waited for a couple of years, then she enrolled in the Master of Arts (MA) in Leadership, Policy & Advocacy for Early Childhood Well-Being program at the Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

“Once I shared my passions with my academic advisor, she told me to talk to Amy,” Cherry says of Amy O’Leary, Strategies for Children’s executive director.

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“As soon as he took office in 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt summoned the U.S. Congress to Washington for a three-month special session. Having promised to work quickly to lift the country out of the Great Depression, he pushed through 15 major initiatives, including the Emergency Banking Act, the Farm Credit Act, and the National Industrial Recovery Act. Looking back during a radio address in July, he called that period of frenzied legislative activity ‘the first 100 days.’

“This January, governors, mayors, and legislators will be sworn into office across the country. Child and family issues were front and center on the campaign trail, and many of them campaigned on a promise to expand early childhood education. We urge newly elected leaders in red and blue states alike to follow Roosevelt’s example by using their first 100 days in office to rapidly make good on that promise, and to support children and families with better child care opportunities by the time a new school year starts next fall.”

“When he ran for mayor of New York City in 2013, Bill de Blasio made universal prekindergarten the central issue of his campaign. The day he took office, on January 1, 2014, as a blizzard slowed the city to a crawl, de Blasio had Roosevelt’s first 100 days in mind. The people of New York had given him a mandate, but he knew he had to move quickly to make universal prekindergarten a reality. He dubbed the program ‘Pre-K for All’ and committed to having it ready at the beginning of the next school year, in September — a mere eight months away. In his first 100 days, he wanted to build an unstoppable momentum.”

“The First 100 Days: How Newly Elected Legislators Can Make Good on Early Education,” by Danila Crespin Zidovsky and Nonie Lesaux, New America Blog Post, December 7, 2022

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The Prince and Princess of Wales came to Boston last week, and one issue on the royal agenda was early childhood.

The princess, also known as Kate Middleton, visited Harvard to meet with researchers at the university’s Center on the Developing Child.

For Middleton, it was part of a long-standing commitment to young children. As the Royal Foundation for the Prince and Princess of Wales explains on its website:

“Over the last decade, The Princess of Wales has spent time looking into how experiences in early childhood are often the root cause of today’s hardest social challenges, such as addiction, family breakdown, poor mental health, suicide and homelessness.”

In 2020, The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (the prince and princess’ royal titles at the time) released a report on the public’s opinion of early childhood in the United Kingdom based on the responses of half a million people — and factoring in the impact of the pandemic. Among the report’s observations:

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Next month, Massachusetts will have new leadership, so it’s time for advocates to learn about and reach out to key players in state public policy.

One good place to start is learning about the transition teams that have been created by Governor-elect Maura Healey and Lieutenant Governor-elect Kim Driscoll.

The key committee for early childhood advocates to focus on is called “Thriving Youth and Young Adults.”

Chaired by Amanda Fernandez, the CEO of Latinos for Education, and Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Rachel H. Monárrez, the committee is looking at, “How we address learning loss from the pandemic and give all children and families equitable access to the educational, social, emotional and behavioral supports they need.”

Serving on the committee are well known members of the early education and care community, including:

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“My name is Gillian Budine. I have been a Coordinated Family and Community Engagement (CFCE) grant program coordinator for many years, including during the Community Partnership and Family Network days. Locally we call our CFCE program the Community Network for Children (CNC) Program and our priority communities are Erving, Leverett, New Salem, Shutesbury and Wendell, but our programs reach families beyond those five towns to neighboring towns with our CFCE programming.”

“CFCE programs have been a crucial hub of support and resources for families. Especially in our small rural communities.”

Testimony submitted to the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care, p. 6, November 8, 2022

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What parents said:

“Working with CNC has been incredible throughout the time we have been involved, from last trimester of pregnancy to current days of our daughter being 1. Our daughter has learned so much and is quite advanced as a result of this program and what it offers.”

“My son and I have been attending CNC programs since he was a few months old. He now has such a fondness for music and stories. During the pandemic, we have been so grateful to have a safe, welcoming environment to attend, learn, and grow. Without the CNC programs, my son would not have had the opportunity at his young age to listen to live guitar, [engage in] singing as a group, read alouds, and exploration. Thank you for this incredible opportunity!”

“Our playgroups in Shutesbury and Erving have been of utmost importance in maintaining social connections and parental support throughout the pandemic, especially during the winter months. We have appreciated the efforts of all staff involved in planning, coordinating, and implementing these groups. My daughter lights up with excitement to see Ms. Katie play guitar and sing songs. She practices social skills of waving and taking turns when with her peers. She’s developed a sense of pride and independence when giving supplies back to Ms. Gillian to help clean up. To see other parents has also helped give me support and comfort during these times of being in isolation throughout the cold months.”

Testimony submitted to the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care, p. 7, November 8, 2022

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“Cost is one of the big reasons Julie Groce—an educator and mother in Grand Blanc, Mich.—waited until she was in her mid-thirties to have her son. ‘We wanted to be financially ready. We thought we were doing the right thing. Turns out, it didn’t matter. Like, it does not matter. It’s going to suck you dry no matter what,’ Groce recently told Fortune’s Alexis Haut on the new podcast focused on childcare, Where’s My Village?

“Like many parents of young children, Groce is counting down the months until she can enroll her son in public school. ‘We paid $1,200 a month, which is how much our mortgage is. So we pay two mortgages,’ she explains on the podcast, adding that their childcare provider, like many across the country, recently increased tuition costs. 

“That cost, however, is a double-edged sword, Groce says. ‘I’m torn because on one hand, it is 1,000% worth it—the way that he’s growing and thriving, totally worth it. If I could pay more, I would, but I also want to be able to pay the bills and pay our mortgage.’ ”

“Childcare costs are bleeding many families dry. This map shows how expensive it is in your state,” by Megan Leonhardt, Fortune, October 19, 2022

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“I was at a turning point in my life… that fork in the road, and there was a job opportunity in 2004. [It was] my perfect job Family Support Coordinator… And so that’s how I came to the Cape Cod Children’s Place.”

“Our mission really says who we are, a nonprofit resource referral and education center committed to providing high-quality, early education and care, support, and advocacy for families with young children.”

“I think being a parent today is the hardest job you’ll ever do and the most important job that you’ll ever do. In other parts of the world, the way that they regard families is really [as a] top priority, and we often disregard that important job. And so I believe truly if we do it really well with young families, the outcomes for the whole community is that much higher.”

The Person of the Week for October 13th, 2022 – Cindy Horgan – executive director of Cape Cod Children’s Place, MVY Radio

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Photo: Pixabay from Pexels

We’re excited to announce the launch of The Early Childhood Agenda!

This is a new partnership that invites stakeholders like you to build a consolidated agenda for early education and care. 

The Early Childhood Agenda will connect organizations, parents, advocates, businesses, educators, providers, and government representatives that all support the growth, development, and education of our youngest children and the wellbeing of families in Massachusetts through public awareness, policy development, and advocacy efforts.

Strategies for Children will host a series of meetings and facilitate a consensus building process composed of five working groups:

These meetings will produce a list of policy priorities shaped by community needs and the lived experiences and perspectives of our partners.

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