Archive for the ‘Cost and affordability’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

This month, Michigan and Connecticut scored legislative victories. Both states are making substantial new investments in preschool, dramatically expanding children’s access to high-quality programs.

Michigan’s Story

Michigan’s increased funding will go to the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), which serves children from low-income families.

In 2012, the Center for Michigan’s Bridge Magazine “published a series of articles chronicling how 30,000 Michigan children who qualified for GSRP weren’t in classrooms because of inadequate funding, poor coordination between programs, and lack of transportation.”

Now Bridge has a brighter story to tell.

“More than 10,000 additional Michigan 4-year-olds will likely be in free, high-quality pre-K classrooms this fall, after the House and Senate last night approved a $65 million expansion of the state’s Great Start Readiness Program,” Bridge writer Ron French explained. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Last month, six states heard great news from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont learned that they would receive a combined $281 million in grant awards from the 2013 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) fund “to improve access to high-quality early learning and development programs throughout their states,” according to a press release.

“By investing in high-quality early learning through programs like Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, we are able to close achievement gaps, provide life-transforming opportunities for children, and strengthen and build a thriving middle class,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in the press release.

Duncan thanked “governors, state officials, and education advocates” for their leadership, adding, “This investment is a down payment to support and implement high-quality early learning programs across the country. There is still a lot more work for us to do.”

“This administration is committed to ensuring all children have a chance to succeed,” Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said in the press release. “An investment in our children is an investment in our nation’s future.” (more…)

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Image: Courtesy of Communities and Banking  The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Image: Courtesy of Communities & Banking
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

The message is spreading across the country: Early education is an effective, evidence-based way to give children the strong start they need. As political leaders take up the cause, early education is being featured in local and national news. Here’s a roundup of recent stories.

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Springfield officials say they’ll use casino revenues, other funding to increase access to early education programs,” in the Republican on Masslive.com, December 9, 2013

If MGM Resorts International is awarded a license to run a casino in Springfield, the city will receive $2.5 million each year for community programs, according to this article.

“Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, following a meeting with various city and schools officials and early childhood education advocates, said he is committed to using a portion of casino revenues to expand access to quality preschool programs,” the article says. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Today is a big day for children and families in Massachusetts and across the country. Strategies for Children applauds Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Congressman George Miller (D-CA), and Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY) for their bi-partisan leadership in introducing the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.  This legislation builds on the progress that we have made in Massachusetts under the leadership of Governor Patrick and our state legislators to ensure that our children have the foundation they need to be successful in school and in life.

Over the past decade, the commonwealth has led the country as we put into place a system of high-quality early education for all children, beginning at birth. Yet significant achievement gaps still exist. Too many children show up for school already behind, and too many will never catch up. Experts agree that high-quality early education has a lifetime impact on young learners in terms of greater academic readiness and improved social skills.

The research is clear. High-quality early childhood education programs are a sound investment. That’s why we’re making sure Members of Congress hear us loud and clear as they move forward with the budget and now this new opportunity — the Strong Start for America’s Children bill.  Please email your Members of Congress in support of the bill now.

The bill has three main parts:

  • Grants to states to expand high-quality preschool, building on their current state-funded preschool delivery system (there are also grants for states that do not yet invest in or need to raise the quality of their standards for preschool);
  • Grants to create Early Head Start/child care partnerships to improve the quality of and expand access to high-quality child care for infants and toddlers; and
  • A call for the expansion of the voluntary home visiting program for infants and toddlers.

Please help us give this bill a solid start by asking your Members of Congress to co-sponsor it.
 The introduction of this historic early learning bill provides an opportunity that we can’t afford to miss. At the same time, as the federal budget is negotiated between the House and Senate, we must fight hard to undo the harsh effects of the sequester and to increase investments in early learning.

Stay tuned for more information and more opportunities for action.

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Photo: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Photo: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

More than 200 people came to the Boston Children’s Museum last Thursday night to attend “Conversation with the Boston Mayoral Candidates – Early Childhood and Education: Closing the Achievement and Opportunity Gaps.”  Strategies for Children, Boston Children’s Museum, Thrive in 5 and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley cosponsored the event along with 31 other organizations.

Both candidates – City Councilor John Connolly and State Representative Marty Walsh — participated, each on stage separately. Candidates answered questions posed by the night’s moderator, WBZ political reporter Jon Keller, and from the audience, which included early educators, providers, pediatricians, college students, professors of higher education, teachers, advocates, and citizens.

As Carolyn Lyons, the president and CEO of Strategies for Children, explained to the audience in her introduction, the forum builds on the momentum that has been fueled by early education proposals from Governor Deval Patrick and other governors,  the Massachusetts legislature and President Obama’s bold proposal to expand preschool programs nationally.

The candidates were asked to come prepared to articulate their vision for Boston’s children and families and discuss what they would do for children and families should they become mayor. They responded by (more…)

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Mayor Logo

This Thursday, October 24, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., the Boston Children’s Museum hosts a Conversation with the Boston Mayoral Candidates. Jon Keller, WBZ-TV News’ Political Analyst will moderate the conversation.

To retain Boston’s status as an economic leader and hub of innovation in the years ahead, the next Mayor must improve educational outcomes for the city’s children. The achievement gap is evident long before children enter school, and we will not succeed in closing it unless we target resources to improve early learning and healthy child development.

Join us for a conversation with the two candidates running for Mayor and hear more about their vision for children and families in Boston.

This event is sponsored by: Boston Children’s Museum, Strategies for Children, Thrive in 5, and United Way of MA Bay and Merrimack Valley.

Co-sponsors to date include:  ABCD ● Associated Early Care and Education ● BOSTnet  ● Boston After School and Beyond ● Boston Association for the Education of Young Children ● Boston Children’s Hospital  ● Boston Opportunity Agenda ● Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester ● Catholic Charities of Boston  ● Cradles to Crayons ● The Children’s Trust ● Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative ● Ellis Memorial & Eldredge House, Inc ● Families First Parenting Programs ● Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts   ● Family Service of Greater Boston ● Friends of the Children – Boston ● Generations Incorporated ● Horizons for Homeless Children ● Jumpstart ● MA Afterschool Partnership ● MA Association for Early Education and Care ● Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics ● MA Kids Count ● MA Head Start Association ● Raising A Reader MA ● Reach Out and Read ● Room to Grow ● United South End Settlements ● Wheelock College

For more information, please contact tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org

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Noah Berger, president Mass Budget; Eileen Rudden, founder, Sankaty Growth Partners; John Jackson, president and CEO, Schott Foundation for Public Education; John Bissell, executive vice president, Greylock Federal Credit Union. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Noah Berger, president MassBudget; Eileen Rudden, co-founder, LearnLaunch; John Jackson, president and CEO, Schott Foundation for Public Education; John Bissell, executive vice president, Greylock Federal Credit Union. Photo: Strategies for Children

“Since the 20-year history of education reform, Massachusetts has emerged as the top ranking state in the nation for overall student performance, but there is still more work to be done to fulfill the promise of a high-quality public education. Future reform efforts should allow for greater differentiation of supports with the end goal of fostering 21st century skills in all students in the Commonwealth.”

 - Representative Alice Peisch, co-chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education

It’s time to start a new conversation about education for the children of the commonwealth.

On June 18th, the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Education Reform Act of 1993, Strategies for Children began that conversation along with its partners the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) and the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE). The three organizations hosted a panel discussion for nearly 100 attendees at the Boston Bar Association to reflect on how far the state has come and discuss the many opportunities that exist for making innovative and meaningful progress.

The state’s work on education reform has made Massachusetts a national leader on standards-based reform – tied to increased funding – that has resulted in the commonwealth leading the way on many key educational benchmarks.  Yet there are still significant, persistent achievement gaps. Schools aren’t meeting the needs of all of our children. And too many students fail to complete high school and college. Meanwhile, the world has changed dramatically over the last two decades, compelling Massachusetts to develop new, innovative ways to bring educational excellence into all our classrooms.

To tackle these issues, the panelists in our discussion called on the state to invest in early education; to reach out to more children, especially those who are struggling to achieve; to look at how technology can improve learning; and to prepare children to succeed in a high-tech economy. (more…)

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Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

The annual report on the cost of child care is out, and once again Massachusetts has the highest average annual costs in the nation for both 4-year-olds and infants in full-time, center-based care. The commonwealth is also among the most expensive states for family child care, ranking fourth most expensive for infants behind New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island and second behind New York for 4-year-olds.

Fees in 2011 for a 4-year-old in Massachusetts average $11,669 a year in a center-based program and $9,496 with a family child care provider, according to “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2012 Report” – by Child Care Aware of America (formerly NACCRRA, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies). Fees for a Bay State infant average $14,980 in a center and $9,346 in family child care.

Although costs are down slightly from 2010, when center-based care averaged $16,500 for an infant and $12,200 for a 4-year-old, the report still counts Massachusetts among the 10 least affordable states for center-based care. The report calculates affordability by analyzing the cost of child care as a percentage of each state’s median income for two-parent families.

The relatively high cost of living and relatively high licensing standards in Massachusetts combine to make child care here particularly expensive. In Massachusetts and across the country, much of the cost of early education and care is borne by high fees for parents and low wages for early educators.

The annual cost for center-based child care exceeds a year’s in-state tuition and fees at a four-year public college in 35 states and the District of Columbia, (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Changes in child care policies and reduced funding negatively affected families in 37 states, according to a recent report from the National Women’s Law Center. The NWLC report helped inform a recent New York Times story – “Aid for Child Care Drops When It Is Needed Most.”

“With states under pressure to cut their budgets and federal stimulus money gone, low-income working parents are facing a paradox. Just when they have to work longer hours to make ends meet, they are losing access to the thing they need most to stay on the job: a government subsidy that helps pay for child care,” the Times reports. “The subsidy, a mix of federal and state funds that reimburses child care providers on behalf of families, is critical to the lives of poor women. But it has been eaten away over the years by inflation and growing need and recently by state budget cuts, leaving parents struggling to find other arrangements to stay employed.”

NWLC summarizes its findings: (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Once again, Massachusetts is among the states with the nation’s least affordable child care according to “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2011 Update,” from the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. NACCRRA measures affordability by comparing cost with the state’s median income. In addition, in straight dollar terms, full-time child care in Massachusetts is the most expensive of the 50 states.

More than 11 million children in the U.S. are in some form of early education and care each week, NACCRRA notes. “In 36 states, the average annual cost for center-based care for an infant was higher than a year’s tuition and related fees at a four-year public college “In every state, center-based child care costs for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) exceeded annual average rent payments,” NACCRRA finds, according to its news release. Nationally, overall costs increased 1.9% in centers and 1.8% in family child care homes between 2009 and 2010, but in Massachusetts costs decreased slightly. NACCRRA cautions that some states with relatively more affordable care also have less stringent regulations for quality.

Here are some highlights of NACCRRA’s findings for Massachusetts: (more…)

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