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Archive for the ‘Head Start’ Category

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: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

“When Luke gets angry, he tries to remember to look at his bracelet. It reminds him of what he can do to calm himself: stop, take a deep breath, count to four, give yourself a hug and, if necessary, ask an adult for help,” David Bornstein wrote in the recent New York Times blog “Teaching Children to Calm Themselves.”

Only 5 years old, “Luke’s difficulties stem from his earliest experiences. Before and after his birth, his parents regularly used drugs. His mother was unable to attend to him and his father was sent to prison shortly after his first birthday.”

What has helped “Luke” (Bornstein agreed not to use his real name) is a program called Head Start-Trauma Smart “that currently serves some 3,300 children annually in 26 counties in Kansas and Missouri.” The program was developed by the Crittenton Children’s Center, in Kansas City, Mo., which provides psychiatric services to children, adolescents and their families.

(more…)

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budgetOn Tuesday, President Obama released his fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, calling once again for significant new and ongoing investments in high-quality early education and care. The proposal closely mirrored his 2014 budget proposal for preschool. [Congress did not fund that proposal in full, but did include funding increases for early education in the final FY14 budget].

The President’s FY15 budget request includes $75 billion over 10 years — starting with $1.3 billion in 2015 — for mandatory funding for a Preschool for All initiative for four-year-olds. The budget also includes $750 million for competitively awarded Preschool Development Grants, as well as increases for Head Start, home visiting, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Strategies for Children president and CEO Carolyn Lyons applauded the president’s goals. “Once again, President Obama has made high-quality early education a priority in his budget proposal. In addition to state and local funding, federal resources are critical to ensuring that every child has the foundation they need to be successful. We urge Congress to support the president’s request.We also ask the Massachusetts Legislature to continue its support of early education so that the commonwealth is well-poised to take advantage of any federal funds that become available.” (more…)

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“The evidence is overwhelming. You’re literally building brain cells when you talk to your child, sing to your child. The reason we’re here is every child, every single child in our country, deserves to have a fair chance to live up to his or her God-given potential.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking at a Head Start program in East Harlem, The New York Daily News, February 4, 2014

 

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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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U.S. CapitolOn Monday evening, Congress reached agreement on federal spending through a 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill. The budget agreement brought exciting news for early childhood, and now we need advocates like you to take action and tell Congress to approve the budget deal.

The Congressional deal could increase funding for early childhood programs by $1.5 billion over post-sequestration levels.  It would be a welcome victory – but only if the House and Senate approve the deal. The bill includes significant increases in funding for early education, despite a very austere budget context.

Please take one minute to send an email to your elected officials and let them know you support early learning.

Phone calls help too. As the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) explains in a policy update, you should ask your representatives to “vote YES on the omnibus appropriations bill. Your calls are important to make sure that all members of Congress support the passage of the bill.”

NAEYC points to the following funding highlights and post-sequestration increases:

- $1.025 billion increase for Head Start, including:

- $400 million for Head Start

- $100 million for COLA

- $25 million for redesignation activities

- $500 million to expand Early Head Start and for new discretionary Early Head Start /Child Care Partnership grants

- $154 million increase for the Child Care & Development Block Grant

- $250 million for the preschool development grants

- $158 million total to maintain the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grants

- $18 million increase for Part C early intervention grants

- $194 million increase for WIC

In addition to allocating funds, the bill calls on the U.S. Department of Education to collect and share the best research and practices on improving public early learning settings through “planning, design, financing, construction, improvement, operation, and maintenance of safe, healthy, high-performance” facilities.

For more information, visit our partners NAEYC and National Women’s Law Center. Follow us on twitter @EarlyEd4All for additional federal updates as they develop.

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Note: Best wishes to all for a happy holiday season. Eye on Early Education will resume publication on January 6, 2014.

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“Yes, there’s a budget deal. But our work is far from over!”

That’s the message the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) is sending about the deal that was made by Budget Committee Chairs Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“The total deal is $85 billion. About $45 billion of that replaces sequestration cuts in 2014,” the Washington Post explains in this summary.  The deal, which has been approved by the House and the Senate, would fund the federal government for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

It’s welcome progress, but this deal only patches holes. It does not create new programs.

Now is the time to contact members of Congress and tell them that the country needs new investments in high-quality early education programs that prepare children for lifelong success. (more…)

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Mayor Angel Taveras Photo Courtesy of the Providence Mayor's Office

Mayor Angel Taveras
Photo Courtesy of the Providence Mayor’s Office

Here’s a powerful campaign promise: Providence Mayor Angel Taveras says that if he wins Rhode Island’s gubernatorial race, he will launch a massive expansion of his state’s preschool programs.

The Brown Daily Herald reported that Taveras has “a goal of enrolling 76 percent of the state’s eligible children in pre-kindergarten by the end of his first term in office and accommodating all eligible students by 2023.”

His approach is explained in the policy report, “Ready Rhode Island: Angel Taveras’ Plan for Universal Pre-Kindergarten.”

“Research shows that supporting early childhood education is a direct investment in the building blocks of long-term economic development,” Taveras writes in the report. “Universal pre-kindergarten is a critically important first-step in strengthening Rhode Island’s cradle-to-career workforce development pipeline.”

Taveras himself is a Head Start graduate, and he has praised the program on the Our Head Start website, writing, “When I was at Harvard, I found out my roommate from Poughkeepsie also attended Head Start. We always joked, ‘There must be something about that program…!’” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Today is a big day for children and families in Massachusetts and across the country. Strategies for Children applauds Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Congressman George Miller (D-CA), and Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY) for their bi-partisan leadership in introducing the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.  This legislation builds on the progress that we have made in Massachusetts under the leadership of Governor Patrick and our state legislators to ensure that our children have the foundation they need to be successful in school and in life.

Over the past decade, the commonwealth has led the country as we put into place a system of high-quality early education for all children, beginning at birth. Yet significant achievement gaps still exist. Too many children show up for school already behind, and too many will never catch up. Experts agree that high-quality early education has a lifetime impact on young learners in terms of greater academic readiness and improved social skills.

The research is clear. High-quality early childhood education programs are a sound investment. That’s why we’re making sure Members of Congress hear us loud and clear as they move forward with the budget and now this new opportunity — the Strong Start for America’s Children bill.  Please email your Members of Congress in support of the bill now.

The bill has three main parts:

  • Grants to states to expand high-quality preschool, building on their current state-funded preschool delivery system (there are also grants for states that do not yet invest in or need to raise the quality of their standards for preschool);
  • Grants to create Early Head Start/child care partnerships to improve the quality of and expand access to high-quality child care for infants and toddlers; and
  • A call for the expansion of the voluntary home visiting program for infants and toddlers.


Please help us give this bill a solid start by asking your Members of Congress to co-sponsor it.
 The introduction of this historic early learning bill provides an opportunity that we can’t afford to miss. At the same time, as the federal budget is negotiated between the House and Senate, we must fight hard to undo the harsh effects of the sequester and to increase investments in early learning.

Stay tuned for more information and more opportunities for action.

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Photo: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Photo: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

More than 200 people came to the Boston Children’s Museum last Thursday night to attend “Conversation with the Boston Mayoral Candidates – Early Childhood and Education: Closing the Achievement and Opportunity Gaps.”  Strategies for Children, Boston Children’s Museum, Thrive in 5 and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley cosponsored the event along with 31 other organizations.

Both candidates – City Councilor John Connolly and State Representative Marty Walsh — participated, each on stage separately. Candidates answered questions posed by the night’s moderator, WBZ political reporter Jon Keller, and from the audience, which included early educators, providers, pediatricians, college students, professors of higher education, teachers, advocates, and citizens.

As Carolyn Lyons, the president and CEO of Strategies for Children, explained to the audience in her introduction, the forum builds on the momentum that has been fueled by early education proposals from Governor Deval Patrick and other governors,  the Massachusetts legislature and President Obama’s bold proposal to expand preschool programs nationally.

The candidates were asked to come prepared to articulate their vision for Boston’s children and families and discuss what they would do for children and families should they become mayor. They responded by (more…)

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