Posts Tagged ‘#mapoli’

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Silvia Moron and State Senator Jason Lewis

Silvia Moron grew up in Haiti, and when she arrived in the United States in 2009, she wanted to be a diplomat.

“My dream was to work for the United Nations and be an ambassador,” Moron says.

To start her career, however, she decided to become a nurse. She loves helping people, and this career would, she decided, give her the stability she needed to pursue her dreams. 

Today, Moron is an intern at Strategies for Children. She’s studying political science at Bunker Hill Community College, and she plans to transfer to a four-year college to study foreign relations.

Moron also runs the Sephora Moron Foundation, which she launched in 2020 to raise money for poor children who don’t have access to education. Put all this work together, and it adds up to Moron’s vision of helping the world by becoming an ambassador who represents poor people, advocates for excellent health care, and promotes education.

What drew Moron to Strategies was the chance to learn about advocacy and policy.

Back in January, on the first day of her internship, Moron joined Strategies’ staff at the Massachusetts State House for the release of the Early Childhood Agenda.

“It was super-exciting. It was my first time at the State House, and I got to pose with Senator Lewis, and he posted the picture on Facebook,” Moron says of State Senator Jason Lewis (D-5th Middlesex). “And I talked to him about Strategies.”


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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

On Tuesday, May 9, 2023, the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee released its $55.8 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2024.

This proposal includes significant investments in early education and care, including $475 million for C3 operational grants, $15 million for grants to early education and care providers for personal child care, $25 million in new funding for early education and care capital improvements, and $30 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative. You can see more details about funding for early education and care on our State Budget Tracker.

Senators had until last Friday to file amendments to the $55.8 billion proposal. The Senate will start the debate on the budget next Tuesday, May 23. After the Senate passes its budget, a legislative conference committee will meet to negotiate differences between the House and Senate budgets.

You can continue to follow the process on the Legislature’s website and stay tuned for updates and opportunities for action!


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Parisa Maryam Fakhri

Parisa Maryam Fakhri grew up in Iran, where she always wanted to be a preschool teacher, but as the oldest child, her parents wanted her to pursue medicine.

When it was time for her to go to college, the Iranian Revolution had shut down the local universities, so Fakhri’s parents said she should study in Europe or the United States.

“It was hard to get a visa to come to America,” Fakhri recalls. “It would have been easier to go to Europe. But Iranian women are some of the strongest women, so even though it was hard, I knew there was more opportunity in the U.S. And in my geography class, they talked about Massachusetts. I liked the name, and I used to dream that one day I would go there.”

People said a visa would be impossible to get. But when the customs officer asked why she wanted one, Fakhri firmly said it was because she wanted to study. Three weeks later she had her visa. She was the only one she knew of who was awarded one. Cousins and friends said that Fakhri, who enjoyed life at home, would not succeed in America. But her parents told her that she could.

And she did.

Fakhri lived with an American family and went to college. She spent long days studying English and immersing herself in American culture. A year and a half later, she met her future husband. Marriage and motherhood led her to pause schooling to take care of her family.

“I wasn’t taking any courses. I was home,” she says, but life slowly drew her toward interacting with more young children and eventually working with them. “I was going to the playground, watching my son play with other children. I would go to the gym and leave my son in the gym’s child care. A neighbor would ask me to take care of their child.”

“The fire that started in my heart in Iran grew. I decided that I wasn’t going to do the work my parents wanted.”

Instead, she got a job at ABCD, an anti-poverty agency in Boston, as an assistant in an early childhood classroom.


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state house

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

On April 12, the House Committee on Ways & Means released its fiscal year 2024 state budget proposal, totaling $56.2 billion and proposing major investments in early education and care.

In his letter to members of the House, Chairman Aaron Michlewitz said “No area has had a greater impact on our workforce than early education and care. The lack of adequate and affordable childcare continues to hamper our recovery. The House remains committed to investing more into early education.”

For early education and care, the proposal includes:

• $290 million to continue the state’s C3 operational grants (line items 3000-1045 and 1596-2410). The budget also dedicates iLottery revenues to a newly created Early Education and Care Operational Grant Fund which is intended to augment C3 funding (see outside sections 6 and 8)
• $90 million for rate increases and $10 million for grants to early education and care providers for costs associated with personal child care (line items 3000-1041, 3000-1042)
• $17.5 million for Head Start (3000-5000)
• $20 million for child care resource and referral agencies (3000-2000)
• $15 million for preschool expansion CPPI grants (3000-6025)
• $10 million for professional development opportunities for child care providers (3000-7066)
• $5 million for the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Grant Program (3000-6075)

The House Ways & Means budget is posted here.

The House has until Friday to file amendments to the budget, and members will debate amendments in the weeks ahead. Check this page for future updates and advocacy opportunities.

Go to SFC’s state budget webpage for line item language, and contact Titus DosRemedios if you would like more information.

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Governor Maura Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll address the Joint Committee on Revenue at the Massachusetts State House. Photo: Joshua Qualls/Governor’s Press Office

On March 29, 2023, Governor Maura Healey signed a supplemental budget for the current FY’23 fiscal year. This budget includes “$68 million to continue Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) grants to stabilize the state’s child care providers through the end of the fiscal year.” Your advocacy worked to raise awareness of the importance of C3 grants, and the need for this critical funding in the current state budget.

Now is a great time to join Strategies for Children in thanking Governor Maura Healey for her proposed historic investments in early education and care in the next fiscal year’s budget, FY’24.

To send a thank you note, copy the message below, paste it into the “Email the Governor’s Office” website, personalize the message however you’d like, and submit it. 

Subject: Thank you Governor Healey for investing in early education and care in your FY24 state budget

Message: Dear Governor Healey:

Thank you for investing in the continued sustainability and growth of the early education and care field.

Your FY24 state budget proposal includes much needed investments in the early education and care system including:

• $475 million to continue the state’s C3 operational grants
• $25 million for financial assistance for low-income families 
• $30 million for Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative 
• $20 million for child care resource and referral services
• $20 million in rate increases for subsidized child care providers
• $5 million for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Services
• $5 million for comprehensive strategic analysis to build on the work completed through the Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission.

Thank you for your leadership and commitment to high-quality early education and care for young children, families, educators, and communities.

Please join us in thanking the governor. Your voice matters.

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In her inauguration speech, State Senator Robyn Kennedy talked about the importance of investing in early childhood programs. She also appeared earlier this month on Strategies for Children’s 9:30 call as part of our “First Year Tour” meet-and-greet with newly elected legislators. Click on the white arrow below to hear her speech or read her tweet.

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This week, in her testimony at the Revenue Committee hearing in the State House, Amy O’Leary shared a vital message with Massachusetts legislators:

Families with young children need economic relief. And Massachusetts can help by passing the bill An Act to establish a Child and Family Tax Credit, H.2761/S.1792, into law.

“Across Massachusetts, families are struggling to keep up with the rising costs of food, housing, and childcare. At the same time, those earning the least pay a larger share of their income in state and local taxes than higher-income families. That’s unfair,” O’Leary, the executive director of Strategies for Children said in her testimony.

O’Leary drew on work done by the Early Childhood Agenda, which solicited feedback from across the state and created a roadmap for improving children’s lives. One vital goal that emerged in the Agenda’s work is to help families become financially secure.

The strategy for achieving this goal is Solution #3 on the Agenda:

“Provide a guaranteed minimum income for MA families and ensure we have an adequate safety net—expand the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), create a robust and inclusive Child and Family Tax Credit (CFTC) and raise cash assistance grants.”

Governor Maura Healey has already called for a new family tax credit for residents “who are struggling to get by as the cost of living continues to skyrocket past them.”


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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Are you ready to advocate for early education and care funding? 

The House Ways & Means Committee will release its FY’24 state budget proposal in a few weeks. Now is the time to contact your own state legislators in support of high-quality early education and care. 

Click here to email your state representative and state senator today! 

Our collective “ask” was developed with sponsoring organizations of Advocacy Day 2023 for Early Education & Care and School-Age Programs. Click here for the full ask sheet and here for more advocacy materials. Feel free to customize and personalize your message to legislators.

Stay tuned for more budget advocacy in the weeks and months ahead. 

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Please join us for Advocacy Day for Early Ed & Care and School Age programs – next Tuesday morning, March 14, 2023, in the Great Hall at the Massachusetts State House!

Registration starts at 9:30 a.m.

The program of speakers starts at 10 a.m.

Meetings with state legislators start at 11:15 a.m.

And, of course, there’s the excitement of getting to meet with hundreds of other early childhood professionals.

Check out the RSVP page for more info.

And click here for related materials, including social media hashtags.

In previous years, Advocacy Day has had a celebratory mood, created by early educators who understand the power of speaking as a group and asking policymakers to create more affordable, high-quality early childhood programs for families. You can read more about that in our past Advocacy Day blogs.


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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Here’s a great example of the power of collective advocacy.

Last month, more than 180 organizations and 718 individuals all signed a letter that was sent to the Massachusetts Legislature. The letter’s request: please provide an additional $70 million to fund this fiscal year’s Commonwealth Cares for Children or C3 stabilization grants.

These grants were essential for helping child care providers stay open during the pandemic, and they have become critical for supporting program quality and workforce retention.

“Now is the time,” the letter adds, “to move from a temporary stabilization program to permanent direct-to-provider operational funding and take an essential next step in our efforts to establish a sustainable business model for early education and care.” The C3 grant program can pave “a pathway from stabilization to systems growth.

“The $70 million will bridge the gap between the end of the childcare stabilization grant program and position a permanently funded operational grant program for sustained support and success into the future.”

The advocacy letter featured the logo of the Early Childhood Agenda, a new effort in Massachusetts to build collective power for transformational change. Check out highlights from the release of the Agenda at the State House earlier this year.

Now, we are happy to say that the advocacy letter was received, and its message was heard!


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