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Archive for the ‘Early educators’ Category

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Last month, Boston EQUIP — the Early Education Quality Improvement Project— released two reports on the quality of early childhood programs in Boston:

- Community Profiles 2013, a comprehensive online survey of early education providers in Boston, and

- the Boston Quality Inventory (BQI) 2013, an in-depth study of program quality conducted at a sample of home-based and center-based early education and care programs

 These reports present crucial data that help inform and advance the policy conversation about how to improve program quality. Research shows that early education programs must be high-quality in order to see lasting positive impacts on children’s development.

Launched in 1994, Boston EQUIP is “a project of Associated Early Care and Education with a broad goal and mission – to collaborate with members of the Boston early education community to systematically evaluate, set goals for, and improve upon the quality of early childhood programs,” according to a press release. The project is aligned with Boston’s Thrive in 5 School Readiness Roadmap, which “sets goals and strategies for strengthening, coordinating and improving the quality of child and family-serving systems in the city, in order to prepare children to succeed in school.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

A new report, “Building a Foundation for Success,” looks at the unmet preschool needs of children in the commonwealth — and proposes three ways that Massachusetts might expand its preschool programs to create more access.

Released by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), a nonprofit research organization, the report examines the number of preschool-age children in Massachusetts and the public funding streams that support their enrollment. The report costs out “a range of options for expanding and improving early education and care for these 3- and 4-year-olds in Massachusetts.” The options proposed range in cost from $153 million to $606 million in increased annual state funding on top of what is currently being spent. This increased state funding would be bolstered by non-state sources such as sliding scale parent fees or local education funding, depending on the model used.

“Right now we have a very fragmented system and that leaves many kids without access to any early education at all,” Noah Berger, MassBudget’s president, told the Boston Globe. However, Berger added that there was a growing consensus that a wide expansion of early education options was good for children and for the economy.

Carolyn Lyons, Strategies for Children president and CEO, is encouraged by the report. “This new report by MassBudget builds upon ongoing state and local policy conversations across the commonwealth on how to pay for and structure high-quality universal pre-k. Research shows that high-quality early education has (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

What elements of high-quality pre-K programs help children achieve lasting academic success? The Robin Hood Foundation — along with two family foundations, the Heising-Simons Foundation and the Overdeck Family Foundation — has financed a study to find out. The effort is part of the Robin Hood Foundation’s “poverty-fighting mission.”

Robin Hood’s research should yield new insights about how specific aspects of program quality contribute most to children’s positive outcomes.

Michael Weinstein, the chief program officer at Robin Hood, and a former New York Times journalist, told the Times, “He was interested in the promise of early childhood education to fight poverty, but unsatisfied by the existing research, which did not provide clear guidance as to which programs were the most cost effective.”

“We pride ourselves, correctly or not, in having an evidentiary basis for making the grants we do,” Weinstein told the Times. He described Robin Hood’s approach as “one of ‘relentless benefit-cost calculations.’”

“The study involving the children in Brooklyn, who attend Public School 221 in Crown Heights, will gauge whether a certain math curriculum can create lasting improvement in students’ math and language skills, as well as their likelihood to (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Data can help policymakers make better decisions. And while state governments do collect some early care and education data, a recent report — the “2013 State of States’ Early Childhood Data Systems” — calls on them to do a better job of gathering more comprehensive data and using these findings to make better-informed policy decisions.

According to the Early Childhood Data Collaborative, which released the report, states’ efforts to collect early childhood data are “uncoordinated, often incomplete,” and therefore unable to “effectively support continuous improvement efforts.” This finding is based on a survey of 50 states and the District of Columbia. The survey was completed by “state education, health and social services program staff,” according to a press release.

“Are young children (birth to age five) on track to succeed when they enter school?” the report asks. “How many children have access to high-quality early care and education (ECE) programs? Is the early childhood workforce adequately trained to meet the needs of young children? Most states cannot answer these basic questions because data on young children are housed in multiple, uncoordinated systems, managed by different state and federal agencies.”

(more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last month, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) released its “Annual Legislative Report for 2013.”

Mandated by state law, the report is a useful and detailed resource for early education providers and advocates as well as legislators who want to know more about EEC’s goals and operations.

Created in 2005, EEC is the first “early education and care-focused department of its kind in the nation,” as the report explains. It combines parts of the former Department of Education (now the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) and parts of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

The report outlines EEC’s five strategic directions, which are:

- “Create and implement a system to improve and support quality statewide.”

- “Increase and promote family support, access and affordability.”

- “Create a workforce system that maintains worker diversity,” provides professional support, and produces strong outcomes for children.

- “Create and implement an external and internal communications strategy” that conveys the value of early education and care, and

- “Build the internal infrastructure” required to achieve this vision.
(more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Here in Massachusetts, our state legislators are drafting their budget recommendations for fiscal year 2015. In the next few weeks, they will meet with leaders in the House of Representative and the Senate to share their priorities. High-quality early education should be at the top of that agenda.

Research shows that high-quality early education provides cost-effective social and academic benefits for children. In the commonwealth, these children are our “rising stars,” and they are counting on everyone — educators, parents, advocates, neighbors, grandparents, administrators, students and citizens — to speak up on their behalf.

So contact your state legislators. And please join Rising Stars 2014. Send your legislator stars to remind them about the importance of early education.

  • Decorate stars: Invite young children in your early education program/family/neighborhood to decorate stars. Click here for a star template. Please cut out the stars. On the back of the decorated stars, attach a message about the importance of investing in our rising stars. On the message sheet, include the child’s name, the name of your program (if applicable), and your city or town.
  • Help children grades K-3 fill out their very own K-3rd Rising Star to send to state legislators! Make sure to complete both sides.
  • Future early educators: Send a message to your legislators asking them to prioritize young children and the early education workforce by personalizing this letter.
  • General supporters of young children: Personalize this letter to your legislators on behalf of young children and families in Massachusetts. In the section labeled “your role,” choose from one of the following or write another that best describes you: parent, voter, resident, professional educator, voter, administrator, grandparent, concerned citizen, etc.
  • Send materials to your state legislators! Mail your decorated stars and letters to legislators in your district. Look up your legislators here:https://malegislature.gov/People/CityList
  • Let us know if you participated. Return your participation form to:

Laura Healy
Strategies for Children/Early Education for All
400 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02110

If you have questions, please contact Laura Healy at 617-330-7389 or EEAintern@earlyeducationforall.org.

Thank you for supporting all our rising stars.

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2013 Gala Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

2013 Gala
Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

This year’s 13th Annual Early Educators Award Gala will be held on Friday, April 4, 2014, at Lombardo’s in Randolph. Sponsored by the Boston Association for the Education of Young Children (BAEYC), the gala is an evening of dinner and dancing, and honoring Greater Boston’s early educators and the early education programs that have earned national accreditation.

Early educators can be nominated for awards in the following categories:

- Leadership and Management

- Relationships

- Curriculum

- Physical Environment

- Family Partnership

- STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)

BAEYC will also present the Abigail Eliot Award to honor an early childhood professional who has made an outstanding commitment to young children and to the early childhood profession through work done on behalf of the association as well as for distinguished professional achievement. The award is named after Abigail Adams Eliot, a pioneer in early childhood education and in training teachers of young children. (more…)

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hubKara Miller, host of the WGBH radio’s Innovation Hub, recently did two interviews that show how science, public policy, and personal history can intersect.

In one segment called “The New Science Behind Early Education.” Miller interviewed Dr. Jack Shonkoff who discussed the impact of “toxic stress” on children’s brain development.

In another segment called “Governor Deval Patrick: When Science Inspires Policy,” Miller talks to Massachusetts’s governor about his legislative approach to early childhood – and about his own childhood experiences.

“Dr. Shonkoff’s research is just my life experience,” Patrick told Miller.

The Science

“What’s really amazing about this biological revolution that we’re living through right now is it’s giving us much greater insight into what’s happening inside the body when we’re severely stressed,” according to Shonkoff, the director of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.

While the purpose of stress is to help people deal with threats, Shonkoff said, “it wasn’t meant to be activated all the time.”

High levels of chronic stress are particularly harmful to children. It can disrupt the development of their brain architecture and trigger diabetes and heart disease in later life. (more…)

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Photo: Strategies for Children

Photo: Strategies for Children

“Tell your stories,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said yesterday to a standing-room-only crowd who gathered beneath the flags in the State House’s Great Hall for “Advocacy Day for Early Education and Care and School-Age Programs.”

Carrying signs, pushing strollers, and wearing red — the color advocates were asked to wear for the day — close to 500 early educators and advocates listened to state legislators, advocates, an early education teacher, and a parent.

The event launched with a warm welcome from Leo Delaney, CEO of Ellis Memorial and president of MADCA’s Board of Directors, who told all those assembled, “what we need today more than ever is you,” reaching out to lawmakers and asking them to invest in children’s early education and care.

Bill Eddy, executive director of MADCA, revved up the proceedings, saying “We’re going to make noise because what you do matters so much.”

“Let me begin by thanking you for your advocacy here today,” said Tom Weber, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care. “It’s very important work that you do.”

Then the crowd hit the State House halls, taking DeLeo’s advice and telling their stories to their state senators and representatives.

It was a chance to ask legislators to invest in early education and care and increase the quality and availability of these programs. Read about last year’s day here.

Advocacy Day’s 2014 sponsors are: MADCA; Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs; Massachusetts Head Start Association; Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP); Children’s Investment Fund; Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children; Alliance on Teen Pregnancy; Horizons for Homeless Children; Associated Early Care and Education; Massachusetts Child Care Resource and Referral Network; ABCD Boston; Stand for Children; United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley; Thrive in 5; Strategies for Children/Early Education for All Campaign; Massachusetts Fair Share; Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children (MAEYC), For Kids Only Afterschool. (more…)

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Massachusetts sealMassachusetts’ education governance structure — which through the education secretariat links the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) — provides an exciting opportunity to align resources and policies to address longstanding achievement gaps and improve outcomes for children. These alignment opportunities were the subject of Monday night’s first joint meeting between the boards of EEC and DESE.

Before a packed audience and members of both boards, Matthew Malone, the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth who also serves on both boards, opened the meeting. He highlighted the importance of this joint meeting and the commonwealth’s collective responsibility to focus on children’s earliest years, birth through eight. He pointed out that there is “no better way” to close the achievement gap than “investing in early childhood.”

During the meeting, the boards heard about several promising initiatives including:

  • implementation of the Massachusetts Kindergarten Entry Assessment system
  • the National Governors Association Policy Academy, and
  • the Early Literacy Expert Panel, which was created through the enactment of An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency, legislation SFC helped to craft and support

(more…)

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