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

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

On Wednesday, September 16th, 2015, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education will hold a hearing for all bills related to early education and care. Among these is “An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education.”

Supported by the “Pre-K for MA” Coalition, which is being led by Strategies for Children (SFC) and Stand for Children Massachusetts, the bill calls on Massachusetts to follow in New Jersey’s footsteps and create high-quality pre-K programs for 3- and 4-year-olds who live in underperforming school districts. The bill was filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett).

We see the bill’s targeted, phased-in approach as getting us closer to our ultimate vision of high-quality early education for children in Massachusetts.

This proposed legislation would build on the recent history of progress in Massachusetts: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

For all its fun, Summer is also a time when children might experience the “summer slide” of losing ground academically. This problem is particularly acute for children from low-income families, many of whom have been shown to lose two to three months in reading achievement during the summer.

But now cities across Massachusetts are creating opportunities for students to keep learning and growing through activities that are engaging, fun, and educational.

As we blogged last month, many cities kicked off this season by celebrating National Summer Learning Day, a day of advocacy promoted in part by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. This summertime work continues in Boston, Holyoke, New Bedford, Springfield, and other communities.

“Research shows that low-income children experience summer learning loss at a much higher rate than their middle-class peers, who typically benefit from enriching summer programs, learning experiences, and homes filled with books and reading,” according to the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Over the course of one summer vacation, this summer learning loss creates an approximate three-month achievement gap in reading skills between the two groups of children. By middle school, the cumulative effect adds up to a gap equal to two full years of achievement.” (more…)

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Nonie Lesaux. Photo source: Harvard Graduate School of Education

Nonie Lesaux. Photo source: Harvard Graduate School of Education

Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children, issued the following statement:

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of Strategies for Children (SFC), we congratulate Dr. Nonie Lesaux on her appointment as Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care. We applaud Governor Baker for appointing a nationally known literacy expert as the Board Chair.

Over the last several years, we have been fortunate to work in partnership with Dr. Lesaux, including commissioning the 2010 Strategies for Children report “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” which Dr. Lesaux wrote. This report has served as a foundation for addressing and improving the state’s literacy efforts, starting from birth.

We look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Lesaux in her new role of giving young children the strong start they deserve to help secure a successful future. Nearly 40 percent of Massachusetts 3rd graders fail to read at grade level. Third grade reading strongly predicts a child’s future academic success. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Last December, Massachusetts was awarded a $15 million federal Pre-K Expansion grant for five communities: Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield.

Now that six months have passed, we decided to check in with Anita Moeller to see how this grant-funded work is going. Moeller is the director of the expansion grant program at the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

It’s a busy season of laying groundwork, Moeller explained. The five communities are working on budgets, identifying teachers, outfitting new spaces, and submitting their final plans to federal authorities.

As EEC Commissioner Tom Weber wrote last fall in the state’s application for this funding, “The Federal Preschool Expansion Grant has inspired Massachusetts to think boldly and to offer a plan that engages and leverages the strengths of the Massachusetts mixed-delivery system to reach more children and advances our goal of achieving a universally-accessible, high-quality system of early education and care.”  (more…)

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Nair Alabachian and Erika Stephenson

Nair Alabachian and Erika Stephenson

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

*     *     *

My name is Nair Alabachian. I have been working in the field as a family childcare (FCC) educator in Lynn, Mass., since 2006. The most important part of my job is helping children learn and develop mentally, emotionally, and socially. I support them by giving them a solid foundation. I’ve benefited so much from the courses I took at Merrimack College because I apply the knowledge I have learned. My curriculum, lessons, and instruction are more structured, grounded in theory, and relevant to my students’ lives.

I was a science and math teacher for 20 years in my home country of Bolivia, but there is still so much to learn. My education from Merrimack has helped me to be able to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses. One of the most gratifying (more…)

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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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