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

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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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Imagine a citywide approach to helping young children prepare for school.

That’s the city New Bedford is striving to be. The city’s public school system is working with local center-based preschool providers, as well as diverse stakeholders including the New Bedford Art Museum, the city’s housing authority, and the United Way of New Bedford to develop school readiness programs.

“We’ve never really had that alignment conversation,” Diane Sullivan said in a recent interview. Sullivan is the supervisor of Early Childhood Special Education for New Bedford Public Schools.

Sullivan helps lead the Birth through Third Grade Alignment Partnership effort, which has been underway in New Bedford since fall 2014. The work is funded by the Department of Early Education and Care, using federal Early Learning Challenge funds.

Taking what Sullivan calls a “good first step,” New Bedford has decided to focus on helping preschool-age children build strong social and emotional skills.  (more…)

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Parents Ursula Allston-Hill and Armando Perez at the Pre-K for MA launch.

Armando Perez and Ursula Allston-Hill at the Pre-K for MA launch.

 

 

“It’s time for Massachusetts to lead once again,” Jason Williams, Massachusetts Executive Director of Stand for Children, said yesterday at a Pre-K for MA kickoff event at the State House.

Led by Strategies for Children and Stand for Children Massachusetts, Pre-K for MA is a coalition of education, business, and civic leaders who know that early education and care can help close the state’s achievement gap and create more opportunities for disadvantaged children.

Attended by parents, early educators, advocates, and several young children, the kickoff event also featured a number of state legislators including Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett).

Peisch and DiDomenico have co-sponsored a bill — “An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education” —that calls on Massachusetts to follow New Jersey’s example by providing “access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs for 3-and 4-year-olds living in underperforming school districts,” as this fact sheet explains. The bill would set up a grant program; and the grants would be awarded by the Department of Early Education and Care in consultation with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Here in Massachusetts, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) wants your opinion.

EEC is holding two public hearings on its adoption of the WIDA Early English Language Development Standards (E-ELD) for children who are 2.5 to 5.5 years old.

As EEC says on its website, the E-ELD Standards are designed to:

• “help guide lesson planning to ensure that the different linguistic needs of dual language learners [DLLs] are being met”

• support dual language learners as they reach their next level of English Language Development

• inform decisions about class composition, staffing, curriculum, and assessment in programs that serve dual language learners, and

• help programs that serve dual language learners to make better use of EEC’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)

The E-ELD Standards are aligned with K-12 English Language Development Standards, and as WIDA explains:

“Specific consideration has been given to the nature of early language and cognitive development, family and community-based socio-cultural contexts for language learning, and the psycholinguistic nature of second language acquisition in preschoolers who are still developing the foundational structures and rules of language.”  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

National data show that different groups of children enroll in preschool at different rates. For example, children who are Hispanic, immigrants or dual language learners (DLLs) are less likely to participate in center-based early education and care programs than white non-Hispanic children, according to NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research).

Because this difference can trigger achievement gaps, NIEER is also proposing ways to enroll more children in center-based care.

How important are formal preschool programs for children? A recent study from the University of California Center Sacramento found “a predominance of positive effects for children in immigrant families attending formal prekindergarten care on both academic and socioemotional school readiness measures.”

And as we’ve blogged before, early education programs can meet the needs of young dual language learners.

Immigrant and DLL Demographics

NIEER and CEELO (the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes) held a webinar on the needs of immigrant and DLL children late last year, and NIEER covered the issue last month in a Preschool Matters blog written by Milagros Nores, NIEER’s Associate Director of Research. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

A new regional training series starts this month. It’s called “New Start: Supporting Multilingual Children and Immigrant & Refugee Families.”

Sponsored by the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants and by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), the training series looks at “early learning for these children and meaningful engagement of their parents and communities…” according to an event flier.

The need is considerable. “More than 1 in 4 children in Massachusetts under age 6 live in households that speak a language other than English,” the flier notes.

Presented in partnership with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), the series “will equip providers, stakeholders, and other professionals with knowledge on immigration policy, cultural competency, and child development and educational principles in the context of multilingual homes and multicultural environments.”  (more…)

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On Wednesday, March 4, Governor Charlie Baker released his first state budget proposal as governor. In an effort to close a projected $1.8 billion budget deficit, Baker’s $38.1 billion budget limits spending increases to 3%, which is less than projected tax revenue growth of 4.8%. The plan curbs state spending at MassHealth, and provides modest increases for local aid, education, and transportation. To learn more, visit Governor Baker’s budget webpage.

The Department of Early Education and Care and its programs are funded at $529.36 million. Most of EEC’s programs were level-funded relative to FY15 current (post-9C) spending levels, including Access Management, Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grants, UPK grants, and early childhood mental health. The Income Eligible waitlist line item (3000-4040), funded at $15 million in each of the past two fiscal years was not funded, however Supportive Child Care, which provides early education for children referred by the Department of Children and Families, received an increase. The governor’s proposal does not include a rate increase for early educator salaries and benefits. In addition, full-day kindergarten grants were not funded, representing a $18.59 million cut from current fiscal year spending levels.

The Partnership Schools Network line item (7061-9408), a fund to support Level 4 and 5 underperforming schools and districts, saw an increase and new budget language allowing early education and care partnerships as an allowable component of local proposals.

Visit our Early Education for All website for a complete listing of early education and care line items in the state budget. Stay tuned for updates in the months ahead as the House and Senate release their budget proposals.

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