Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children
The Children’s Investment Fund has been shepherding proposed legislation through the State House that would create bond funding to build or improve early childhood education (ECE) and out-of-school time (OST) spaces.
“The MA Legislature recently passed a bill authorizing bond financing for capital improvements,” the Fund said in a recent email. This is money that will go to nonprofit early childhood and afterschool centers. “While we continue working with a coalition of supporters to get the bill through the conference committee, signed and eventually funded, we want to help get projects ready for funding.”
A substantial need
As the Fund says on its website, “space matters: there is substantial research on the importance of the physical environment on children’s social, emotional and cognitive development.”
The need is considerable, as the Fund found in a survey of ECE and OST programs located across the state. A report of this work – “Building an Infrastructure for Quality: An Inventory of Early Childhood Education and Out-of-School Time Facilities in Massachusetts” — sheds light on a host of problems, including ceiling holes, poor air quality, inadequate heating and cooling systems, and inadequate play spaces. An executive summary is available here. To download the full report register here.
We wrote about the Fund’s efforts last year and again this summer in June. (more…)
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Photo: Strategies for Children
Last month, Wheelock College hosted 150 people at the 8th Annual Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care. The theme was, “Raising Our Voices: The Power of Advocacy – The Time for Action is Now!”
Throughout the day, participants asked a common question: How can we get better at telling our story? Good answers came from elected officials, advocates and child care providers.
Advice from Elected Officials
During the morning session a panel of elected officials offered a range of advice for reaching out to government.
“We need people like you to come to the State House,” State Senator Sal N. DiDomenico (D – Everett), said in the conference’s first session. “A lot of what I do in the State House is a reflection of what you tell me.”
One of the first lessons that Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley learned was “not to be self righteous.” She also called on advocates to tell the moral story about early childhood education and the economic story.
Don’t underestimate the power of aides, Pressley and DiDomenico added. Talking to elected officials’ staff members and policy directors can have a powerful impact.
“If you’re a little intimidated,” to talk to legislators said State Representative Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke), “Find someone who is not.” And he added, “Invite us to your events.” (more…)
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A rundown gross motor room. Photo: Children’s Investment Fund
In 2011, a report from the Children’s Investment Fund (CIF) revealed the substandard conditions of some early childhood and out-of-school time buildings and facilities in Massachusetts.
One photograph in the report shows a big hole in the ceiling with dirty pink insulation hanging out. In another photograph a leaky toilet stands on a badly stained concrete floor. A third photo shows children playing in an empty parking lot.
We wrote about the report — “Building an Infrastructure for Quality: An Inventory of Early Childhood and Out-of-School time Facilities in Massachusetts” – in a blog entry posted here.
According to Marty Cowden, CIF’s associate program manager, one repeated reaction to the report’s worst findings has been “Oh my goodness, I’d never send my child to a place like that.”
For early education and out-of-school time providers the economic reality can be painful. “The poor condition of the facilities is a resource issue, not the result of providers’ lack of understanding or concern. Providers that serve our highest-need children are squeezed financially – subsidy rates and parent fees don’t cover their operating costs, so they have no cash reserves to renovate or build space that truly supports children’s healthy development and learning,” according to Mav Pardee, CIF’s program manager.
Fortunately, there will be State House action on this issue. Hearings will be held tomorrow on (more…)
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The Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care voted to endorse a bond bill that includes $45 million in capital financing for non-profit providers of early education and out-of-school time services to build or renovate facilities. The bill follows the 2011 release of “Building an Infrastructure for Quality,” a report from Children’s Investment Fund, found shortcomings in safety, air quality, indoor space for physical activity and other measures.
Mav Pardee, director of the Children’s Investment Fund, updated the board on the Building Quality Campaign – a partnership comprised of the fund, Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CHAPA), and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. The bond financing for early education and out-of-school-time facilities is included in CHAPA’s $1.2 billion housing and community development bond bill. Representative Jeffrey Sanchez has filed a separate facilities financing bill with the same language as a placeholder.
The legislation would make financing available to licensed non-profit providers with at least a quarter of their enrollment children from low-income families. Financing would range from 50-80% of total development costs, based on the number of children eligible for subsidies, and would be in the form of permanent deferred loans for a term of 30 years. (See Pardee’s PowerPoint.)
The January 8 meeting was also the last for former Secretary of Education Paul Reville, who has returned to the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Matthew Malone, former superintendent of the Brockton Public Schools, who was sworn in as the state’s new education secretary on January 14. JD Chesloff, chairman of the EEC board, presented Secretary Reville with a certificate of appreciation. Reville thanked the board and the entire early childhood field for what he termed their “inspiring commitment” to the young children of Massachusetts.
Emily Levine, our field and research associate, reports the board also discussed: (more…)
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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston publishes a quarterly journal, Communities & Banking, which focuses on issues of concern to low- and moderate-income communities. We are pleased that early childhood is on the magazine’s radar screen. The Winter 2012 edition featured a story on the importance of third grade reading and Springfield’s citywide Read! campaign to improve early literacy in the Western Massachusetts city. Now the Spring 2012 issue features a story – “Infrastructure Investment Begins with Children” – about efforts by the Children’s Investment Fund to improve the physical condition of early education and care facilities in Massachusetts.
Among community-based facilities the fund surveyed for its recent report, 34% had inadequate heating and cooling, 54% lacked indoor active play space, 20% had one or more classrooms without windows, 22% had indoor air with elevated levels of carbon dioxide, 70% had no classroom sinks, 22% lacked workspace for teachers, and 65% lacked technology for teachers.
“Massachusetts, like other states, has invested significant private and public resources in quality improvement for early care and education and out-of-school-time services, particularly for low-income children,” the Fed story notes. “But quality — and the physical infrastructure to support it — is critical to fulfilling the state’s aspirations for these children, and clearly, the resources to fix problems cannot be found in program operating budgets. (more…)
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Posted in Facilities, Research on January 10, 2012 |
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Building an Infrastructure for Quality – that, among other things, found shortcomings in safety, air quality and indoor space for physical activity in early education and out-of-school-time facilities around the state. Since then representatives of the fund have traveled throughout the commonwealth to build support to address the problems identified in the report. “We need to expand the definition of quality to include the physical environment,” Mav Pardee, director of the Children’s Investment Fund, tells the Telegram & Gazette.
Last fall, the Children’s Investment Fund issued a report — “
The video shown above tells the story of how one early education program, the Crispus Attucks Children’s Center in Dorchester, upgraded its indoor and outdoor space and, in the process, improved the learning environment for the children it serves. Another video focuses on the physical transformation of Children’s First Enterprises in rural Granby.
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