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

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, 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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Jay Gonzalez, Chair of the Board of the Department of  Early Education and Care

Jay Gonzalez

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is asking the Legislature for an additional $45 million for fiscal year 2016. This investment would position Massachusetts to improve the ways that it helps young children succeed in school and life.

Please contact your elected state officials and let them know that you support this request and the progress it seeks to make.

EEC’s FY 2016 proposal is based on a vision of eventually providing high-quality, affordable programs that are available to every young child in the state. These programs would be staffed with well-qualified and well-trained teachers and providers.

“After a long process of evaluating the state of early education and care in Massachusetts and soliciting feedback from stakeholders and the public, the Board of Early Education and Care developed and approved a comprehensive proposal for systemic reform and investment,” Jay Gonzalez, chair of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care, said in a statement. “The Board’s vote establishes a multi-year framework for taking our system of early education and care to the next level.”  (more…)

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State HouseOn Tuesday, Governor Baker announced his administration’s plan to close a mid-year state budget gap of $768 million. To do this, the governor relies on non-tax revenue adjustments as well as “9C cuts” to reduce fiscal year 2015 spending levels for nearly 300 line items. Baker explains his approach in a press release.

How did early education fare?

Overall, Baker reduced the Department of Early Education and Care’s budget by $5.5 million, including: a $2.1 million cut to the TANF access account; a $1 million cut to Head Start; a $1 million to Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grants; and $750,000 from the new K1 classroom grant program. EEC administration, Access Management, and waitlist reduction funds were also cut by smaller amounts.

In addition, Full Day Kindergarten grants were cut by $5 million. These quality grants are managed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and fund para-professional salaries, program curriculum, professional development, and other activities.

In light of these cuts, your advocacy will be critical as our state legislators debate the fiscal year 2016 budget.

So please participate in Rising Stars 2015 and send a message to Governor Baker and your state legislators today.

Stay tuned for more advocacy opportunities: Our policymakers need to hear from all of us. Together, we can advocate for and secure the investments in high-quality early education that will provide bright futures for the commonwealth’s young children.

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Secretary of Education Jim Peyser. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Secretary of Education Jim Peyser. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Governor Charlie Baker has chosen all the members of his cabinet, including James Peyser, the state’s new secretary of education. Peyser heads the Executive Office of Education.

As the Boston Globe reports, Peyser has a great deal of experience in education and government. He is a former chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education and a former education advisor to Governors Weld and Romney.

Peyser was also the executive director of Baker’s transition team, and he “recently worked at NewSchools Venture Fund, described on its website as ‘a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm working to transform public education for low-income children.’”

The Globe adds this comment from Charlie Baker: “I saw firsthand Jim’s experience and leadership improving public education throughout his career and during our time together on the state Board of Education… I look forward to the innovation and devotion Jim will bring to our administration as we work to give our children and their parents a greater voice in their education.”  (more…)

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Andy Hargreaves, professor  at Boston College's Lynch School of Education. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Andy Hargreaves, professor at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“The moment is ripe for more deliberate action in the early childhood sphere in Massachusetts,” according to a new report from the Rennie Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on education research and policy.

The annual report — “Condition of Education (COE) in the Commonwealth Report: Priority Actions for a Statewide Agenda” — includes a data report and a policy action guide. Several research and policy organizations, including Strategies for Children, served on the report’s advisory committee.

Rennie released the report at a standing-room-only event at the Omni Parker Hotel that brought together Jim Peyser, the state’s new secretary of education with the chairs of the Boards of the Departments of Early Education and Care; Elementary and Secondary Education; and Higher Education.

The report “highlights what works now,” Pendred Noyce, chair of Rennie’s board, said at the Omni Parker event, explaining that the report points to successful programs that could be replicated to improve educational outcomes across the state. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

What do you think young children need to develop strong social/emotional and learning skills?

Let the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) know.

EEC is holding three public hearings in Boston, Brockton, and Worcester to get public feedback on a draft of proposed social-emotional learning standards.

Called the “Pre-School and Kindergarten Standards in the domains of Social-Emotional Development and Approaches to Play and Learning,” the draft can be downloaded by clicking here.

The need for standards is clear. As the draft explains: “The preponderance of outcomes from both research and evidence-based practice clearly show the strong connection between social and emotional learning, academic learning, and success in life. In fact this synergistic development of social and emotional and academic skills promotes and facilitates higher order thinking.”  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

What makes a high-quality preschool or out-of-school-time space?

Lots of things, including natural light and fresh paint; engaging spaces where children can play, read, or try on hats and costumes; a good heating and cooling system; easy access to fully equipped outdoor play spaces; and modern, functional bathrooms.

Unfortunately, a 2011 report from the Children’s Investment Fund (CIF) revealed that a number of early education and out-of-school-time programs were located in problematic spaces. Deficiencies ranged from holes in the ceiling and leaking toilets to poor air quality and outdoor play spaces that were really just parking lots.

Thanks, however, to the advocacy work of CIF and others, the Massachusetts Legislature used the 2013 Housing and Community Development Bond Bill to create the new $45 million Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund(more…)

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