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Posts Tagged ‘#MARunsOnChildCare’

Join us TODAY for the release of the work done by the Early Childhood Agenda – a unified plan that draws on many voices to improve early childhood programs in Massachusetts. 

You can register here and meet us at the Grand Staircase inside the Massachusetts State House at 11 a.m.

Starting at 11 a.m., we will also livestream the event on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

We’ll be sharing “a targeted list of policy priorities… shaped by community voice and needs, and the different perspectives and lived experiences of partners to highlight the field’s top priorities for the next two years.”

These priorities cover five broad areas:

• Financially Secure Families

• High-Quality Experiences

• Thriving Early Childhood Workforce

• Robust System Infrastructure and Local Partnerships, and

• Healthy Beginnings

So please join us live — or via our livestream — to ensure that Massachusetts is a place where all young children can thrive.

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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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poll photo

Photo: Huong Vu for Strategies for Children

The results are in!

A new statewide poll sponsored by the Common Start Coalition has found that “73 percent of the state’s voters” back “the Common Start proposal to create a universal childcare program in Massachusetts.” Only 18 percent of respondents oppose the idea.

“Support is up nearly 10 points from two years ago, when the corresponding margin on this question was 64%-23%,” according to a memo from Beacon Research, the organization that conducted the poll.

The poll was conducted last month and surveyed 817 Massachusetts voters.

Most of these voters acknowledge three facts that are driving “the push to create a universal childcare program:”

• too many families can’t afford the high cost of child care

• child care workers are significantly underpaid, and

• state government should play a role in addressing these challenges

The poll also found that 58 percent of respondents favor “increasing taxpayer funding for childcare programs in Massachusetts,” a jump up from two years ago when 48 percent of respondents supported this idea.

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Congratulations to Maria Gonzalez Moeller for being appointed by Governor Charlie Baker to the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC)! 

As the CEO of The Community Group (TCG) in Lawrence, Moeller brings the perspective of early educators and families, and she has become an expert in managing the global pandemic so that children and families can get needed support.

She can also share how local early childhood innovations have helped move Massachusetts through the Covid-19 era.

“We had to do everything from scratch,” Moeller says of how her staff coped with the pandemic, “and we adjusted and evolved. That required a lot of flexibility from our staff and a lot of empathy. We knew everyone was going through a hard time.”

To keep its early childhood classes running even when staff were out sick with Covid, The Community Group developed its own employee pipeline, an apprenticeship program for early educators that began as an internal pilot program and then, with funding from the United Way, expanded to include other early childhood centers in the city.

“Training has been a big priority for us, specifically training in Spanish,” Moeller says. “There are a lot of new residents who come to Lawrence looking for a new career. Many of them are women who were teachers in their own countries. So we offer them the opportunity to become an early childhood professional.”

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sfc advocacy

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

As the summer winds down, it’s time to get ready for election season. 

Your voice matters! Please let your candidates know that they should make early education and care a priority! 

Elections in Massachusetts are just around the corner. The state’s primary is Tuesday, September 6, 2022. The statewide election will be Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

So, now is the time to remind candidates that Massachusetts should build on this year’s momentum by continuing to make early education and care a policy and a funding priority!

To learn more, please check out Strategies for Children’s Election Year 2022 webpage. It includes a wide range of information, including where to vote, who the candidates are, and how we are advancing our advocacy work.

Please join us as we call for “early education and care to be treated as a public good – just like public schools or our physical infrastructure of roads and bridges.” This will make a huge difference for children and families.

And please be sure to vote in the upcoming elections. 

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Federal Reserve photo

Photo: Huong Vu for Strategies for Children

What happens when an early educator and a community leader team up with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston?

Everybody wins.

That’s what occurred when two members of the Boston Fed’s Leaders for Equitable Local Economies (LELE) program saw the damage caused by the pandemic.

“After COVID-19 hit, Marites MacLean and Beth Robbins noticed a worrying trend: Dozens of child care centers were closing across central Massachusetts. And as families lost reliable child care, local businesses increasingly struggled to fill jobs,” a Boston Fed article says.

MacLean is a longtime early educator and one of Strategies for Children’s original 9:30 Call participants. Robbins was helping “jobseekers through a local nonprofit called WORK Inc.” Both women are also residents of Fitchburg, Mass. And the LELE program they participate in supports and strengthens leaders like them who are “taking on the critical work of rebuilding economic systems in Massachusetts’ smaller cities.”

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

We have another advocacy opportunity for you!

But first, thank you for taking action on the state budget and continuing to support early education and care legislation.

The next step: right now the Legislature is focused on its Economic Development Bill. The House and Senate passed versions of this bill this week — each with substantial funding proposals for early education and care:

  • $150 million for grants to support and stabilize the early education and care workforce and address varied operational costs at state child care programs supervised by the Department of Early Education and Care (Senate bill); and
  • The i-Lottery program with dedicated revenue for an Early Education and Care Fund (House bill)

Next week a conference committee will negotiate differences between the bills.

Join us in signing an advocacy letter supporting both House and Senate proposals for early education and care. Our deadline is Monday, July 25, 2022, at 5 p.m. Act now!

Now is the time to advocate for including critical funding for early childhood education and care in the legislation, including sufficient funding for the C3 stabilization grants to be extended through Fiscal Year 2023.

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The State House is seeing a flurry of activity as the 2021-2022 legislative session winds down.

On Monday the Legislature passed a state budget with major investments in early education and care.

Legislators continue their work this week to finalize an economic development bill that could include additional funding for early education.

Early education and care legislation is still pending, awaiting action in the House.

On July 7, 2022, the Massachusetts Senate took a bold step forward by voting unanimously to pass An Act to expand access to high-quality, affordable early education and care (S.2973). But to become law, it will also need to be approved by the House before the end of this month.

The Common Start Coalition continues to lead advocacy for the bill’s passage. Visit Common Start for the latest advocacy updates. (Strategies for Children serves on the Common Start steering committee). Let your state representative know about the Senate bill, and encourage them to pass a similar bill in the House.

This promising bill provides a strong framework for tackling many of the persistent challenges that the field faced long before the pandemic started.

The bill would put Massachusetts on a path toward establishing a system of affordable and high-quality early education and care for families. The bill also calls for providing more support for early educators.

Senate President Karen Spilka provides details here.

The need is great. As Mark Reilly, the Vice President of Policy & Government Relations at Jumpstart, points out, “Massachusetts is 40th in the nation in state investment in early education and we are pleased to see that the Legislature is poised to drive the state up those rankings.”

Massachusetts can build on the pending investments in the state budget by passing a historic bill that charts a long-term course for bolstering our early education and care system.

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State House

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The FY23 state budget is late this year, but legislators are very close to a deal. A 6-member conference committee is meeting now to finalize differences between the House and Senate budget proposals.

For early education and care, there is $344 million at stake

That’s the difference between the House and Senate proposals. There’s $250 million for Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) Stabilization Grants in the Senate proposal, and $70 million in rates in the House proposal, which includes $10 million for grants to early education and care providers for costs associated with personal child care. 

Click this link to email the conference committee today, and ask them to advocate for early education and care in the conference committee budget.

If you have already taken action in recent weeks, take action again. As they finalize the state budget, our legislators need to hear from advocates for early education and care.

Our state continues to have record revenue surpluses. Not only can Massachusetts easily afford to fully fund early education and care – we can’t afford not to!

State funding is essential for continued recovery of our field. 

Ongoing staffing shortages mean that early education and care programs are open but operating with lower enrollment and closed classrooms.

Many industries are experiencing similar shortages, but a workforce shortage in child care means people cannot return to work and our state and local economy cannot fully recover.

Ask the conference committee to invest in high-quality early education and care, for young children, families, educators, and communities. 

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We’re continuing to highlight our Advocacy Network participants, and we’re excited about all the work they’re doing in the field and across the state. For past blogs click here and here and here

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Anna Ricci-Mejia is an example of how multifaceted a Bostonian’s life can be. She grew up in Boston’s North End neighborhood. She’s an early educator at the East Boston Social Centers. Her parents immigrated to Boston from Italy. Her husband is from Central America. She speaks English and Italian. And in high school she learned to speak Spanish. 

When Ricci-Mejia heard about Strategies for Children’s Advocacy Network, she was immediately interested. She wanted to speak up for people. In any of her three languages.

“I know a lot of people, especially undocumented immigrants, are afraid to speak up or even get quality childcare for their children. And I always say, it doesn’t matter what your immigration status is. Your kids have to learn, and they have to learn and socialize when they’re young, because if they don’t, it will be harder later on.”

In the classroom, Ricci-Mejia speaks whatever language children in her care respond to, creating the kind of supportive environment she didn’t have as a kid who went straight from her mother’s care into kindergarten. She didn’t speak English. Other kids teased her. But over time she learned this new language. 

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