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14359821987_be01fd4731_mYesterday, The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 25th edition of its KIDS COUNT Data Book, a statistical look at children’s well-being.

The report shows that, “Children have a greater opportunity to thrive and succeed in Massachusetts than in any other state,” according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), the home of KIDS COUNT here in the commonwealth.

This is exciting news for Massachusetts, but it comes with an important caveat: There is still much more work to do.

The Massachusetts KIDS COUNT data profile reports that 15 percent of the state’s children lived in poverty in 2012. And despite being first in the nation in education and fourth grade reading, 53 percent of this state’s fourth graders cannot read proficiently. Thirty percent of children have parents who don’t have secure jobs. And while an impressive 99 percent of Massachusetts’s children have health insurance, it’s also true that this state’s children are as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as children across the country.

MassBudget released the new data yesterday at an event hosted by Nurtury (formerly Associated Early Care and Education) in its brand new Learning Lab in Jamaica Plain where Governor Deval Patrick spoke, along with state legislators, local leaders, and Chris Martes, Strategies for Children’s new president and CEO. Continue Reading »

Graphic Courtesy of the First Five Years Fund

Graphic Courtesy of the First Five Years Fund

Last week, the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) released findings from its latest national public opinion poll on investing in young children. The result: widespread, bipartisan support for early childhood education.

“Seventy-one percent of voters — including 60 percent of Republicans — support greater investment in early childhood education if it increased the deficit in the short-term, but paid for itself in the long-term by improving children’s education, health, and economic situations so that less spending is needed in the future,” according to a fact sheet that explains the poll results. Continue Reading »

In Quotes

“Many in K-12 schooling want change and are scouring the learning landscape for thoughtful guidance. They might be surprised to find important lessons from an unexpected source: early-childhood education.”

Joan Wasser Gish, a member of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care, and Principal at Policy Progress, in her Education Week article “Four Lessons from Early Education”

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Massachusetts’ education agencies have collaborated on a new website – “Building the Foundation for College and Career Success for Children from Birth through Grade 3.” It’s a public resource that will share information on the state’s promising efforts to build a birth-through-grade-three policy agenda that will help children achieve success in school and later in life.

“By creating this agenda,” the website explains, “we will enhance the quality of educational and other services provided to children and families and also increase policy alignment and collaboration among our state education agencies – the Department of Early Education and Care, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Department of Higher Education.”

The birth-through-grade-three agenda will also “strengthen essential partnerships with educators, parents and families, local and state officials, legislators, community and business partners, and other members of the commonwealth,” enabling the state to make an even stronger commitment to its children. Continue Reading »

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

“Early education is in the spotlight like never before… yet real progress is elusive,” according to a report being released today by the New America Foundation called: “Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education.”

“President Barack Obama has repeatedly called for increased investments in child care, pre-K, home visiting, and other programs,” the report says. “Thirty-five states entered the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grants competition, which has so far invested about $1 billion in 20 states’ infrastructure. A long-overdue reauthorization bill for the Child Care and Development Block Grant overwhelmingly passed the Senate this year, with potential in the House.”

In addition, the report notes that philanthropies, governors, and state legislatures increasingly recognize the importance of investing in children.

Nonetheless, the report says, achievement gaps have widened. There aren’t enough seamless transitions from pre-K to grade school. Too many low income children aren’t getting the support they need. And Congress isn’t providing stable funding. Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Are you preparing to build a new early childhood or out-of-school-time space?

The Children’s Investment Fund (CIF) wants to know.

“We would like to identify organizations with capital needs that may be eligible for the EEOST Capital Fund in subsequent funding rounds within the next four years, so we can help with the early planning and predevelopment process,” according to an email announcement from Mav Pardee, CIF’s program manager. “If you are thinking about a facility improvement project, please complete the following survey.

The EEOST is the new Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund. Supported by CIF and other organizations, the five-year, $45 million capital fund was created by Massachusetts’ lawmakers last year.

The capital fund will finance grants that can be used to pay for acquisition, design, construction, repair, and renovations. To be eligible applicants must be nonprofit, tax-exempt, licensed programs where at least 25 percent of enrolled children receive subsidies. The Department of Early Education and Care will release applications for the grant this summer. Continue Reading »

Last Friday, Governor Deval Patrick signed the fiscal year 2015 state budget into law. The $36.5 billion FY15 budget includes significant increases for early education and care, including:

  • $15 million in new spending for serving approximately 1,700 children currently on the state’s Income Eligible waiting list;
  • $6.57 million rate reserve for early educator salaries and benefits;
  • New $1 million pre-k classroom grant program; and
  • $1 million increase for Head Start programs.

In addition, the budget level funds core quality support programs including Universal Pre-K grants, Full-Day Kindergarten, and the Early Childhood Educator Scholarship.

This budget represents the largest overall funding increase for early education since 2008 and the second consecutive year of increases.

Massachusetts readers: Please take a minute to contact Governor Patrick and your state legislators, and thank them for prioritizing early education in FY15.

The FY15 budget is another step in the right direction, but additional resources will be needed to achieve universal access to high-quality early education and care in Massachusetts. Stay tuned for more policy and advocacy opportunities in the months ahead, and sign up today to receive news and updates from Strategies for Children and the Early Education for All campaign.

Visit our website for a complete listing of early education and care line items in the state budget, or contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org for more information.

 

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