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Archive for the ‘Dept. of Early Education and Care’ Category

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

The state has a new mental health guide that focuses on young children called “Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Resources and Services: A Guide for Early Education and Care Professionals.”

It’s a road map that’s packed with information as well as phone numbers and Internet links that early educators can use to connect children and their families to a wide array of resources and organizations.

Early education professionals will find “descriptions of services and supports for families with young children, as well as resources that can benefit your program, whether you work in an early education and care center or family child care setting.”

And: “To support staff conversations with families about their children’s social-emotional development, the guide also includes advice on how early childhood professionals can share their concerns with parents.”

The guide is published by the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI), “an interagency initiative of the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services.” CBHI worked with the state’s Department of Mental Health and its Department of Early Education and Care.

Some of the funding for this project came from the federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant that was awarded to Massachusetts in 2011.

(more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

On Tuesday of this week, the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means released a $38 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2016. The proposal represents a 3.1 percent spending increase over FY15. It relies on $572 million in one-time funds and does not recommend any tax changes.

The committee’s proposal is themed “Lifting All Families,” and “makes targeted investments to foster shared prosperity, encourage overall economic growth and create new opportunities for people in all corners of our commonwealth.”

Among these targeted investments are increases to early education and care. The Department of Early Education and Care and its programs are funded at $545.51 million, roughly $6 million higher than in the House of Representatives’ FY16 budget. This includes a $12 million investment to serve children on the state’s income eligible waiting list for early education and care subsidies. The Senate proposal also consolidates two major subsidy access accounts, Supportive Child Care and TANF. (more…)

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Erin Vickstrom

Erin Vickstrom

This is a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

*     *     *

My name is Erin Vickstrom, and I work at a preschool called the Quinsigamond Community College Children’s School in Worcester, Mass., located on the college’s campus. We serve children ages 2.9 to 5 years old.

I am very proud to be an early childhood educator. Many who don’t know what our job entails often overlook the work we do in this field. I love when children get excited about learning something new. I recently started bringing more science activities into the classroom. The children have responded so positively. Now when I walk into the classroom I have girls that come up to me and say, “Can we do science today?!” It is so exciting to me to have young children so excited to learn. I know my work could help to inspire life long learning.

The first five years of life are crucial to a child’s future success. By supporting children and families, the groundwork is laid to help children grow and develop (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Two new tools are available for the early education and care field, thanks to a collaboration between the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Framingham-based consulting company Early Childhood Associates (ECA).

One tool is a workshop series – the Getting it Right for Children: Early Educators Leadership Institute, which ECA developed to explore how to align birth-through-third-grade systems.

The other is a resource guide that ECA created called, “Guiding Change, Impacting Quality: A Guide to Technical Assistance in Settings Serving Infants & Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Children in Out-of-School Time Programs and Their Families.”

Both provide insights into how to develop high-quality approaches to helping children thrive as they grow from birth through the third grade.  (more…)

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Susan LaCroix

Susan LaCroix

This is the first in a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

Today is also National Worthy Wage Day, a grassroots public awareness campaign that’s jointly coordinated by the Center for the Child Care Workforce and the American Federation of Teachers. The campaigns goal is to raise awareness of:

• the low wages earned by early childhood educators, and,

• the damaging effects on young children of instability from the on-going teacher-retention crisis and from chronic underfunding of early education.

*     *     *

Susan LaCroix is an early educator and benefits from the Department of Early Education and Care’s (EEC) Educator and Provider Support Grant. This post is based on the public testimony she gave at an EEC Board meeting held on Tuesday, April 14, 2015.

What started out as a part-time job became my passion.

My Name is Susan LaCroix. I work as an early educator at the GLCAC Inc. Child Care Center located in Lawrence. I began my career in the field of early childhood education in June of 1987. I started working at this Center and have been here ever since.  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“We must set children up to do well in the classroom and beyond,” a new Strategies for Children policy brief explains, adding that it is crucial, “to invest in early education and care programs that will promote social-emotional skill development…”

Written by Sophie Barnes, who is enrolled in the Child Advocacy strand of the Human Development and Psychology program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the brief adds:

“Research shows that high-quality early education and care has many benefits. Chief among these is the impact on young children’s social-emotional development, which may be as important or more so than traditional pre-academic skill development (e.g., number and letter recognition).”

What is social-emotional learning?  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

While the state waits for new revenue to significantly expand early education and care opportunities for young children, it’s important to ensure that the existing subsidy system is operating as effectively as possible.

This was the intention of state legislators in FY14 when they approved $500,000 in funding to conduct a two-year, independent study of The Department of Early Education and Care’s (EEC) child care access accounts. These accounts are commonly referred to as Income Eligible, TANF, and Supportive Child Care. They consist of federal funds and required state matches, and they make up the majority of EEC’s budget.

Now, two years have passed and the research results are in.

The Urban Institute, a D.C.-based policy research organization, has released its findings in a series of policy reports that look at:

• improving the efficiency of the system

• analyzing gaps in the availability of subsidies, and,

• assessing the balance between providing quality early education for children and providing workforce support for guardians

Massachusetts wins praise for its strengths and gets feedback on ways to improve its vision and its delivery of services.  (more…)

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