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Archive for the ‘MA Legislature’ Category

On April 9, the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means released its fiscal year 2015 state budget proposal. The recommendation includes $515.25 million for the Department of Early Education and Care and its programs, which is less than Governor Patrick’s proposal, and a modest increase relative to FY14 appropriation levels. More resources are needed for high-quality early education, and your voice can make a difference.

Massachusetts readers – Contact your state representative today to support early education amendments to the state budget, and help secure additional funding for young children’s early learning and school readiness.

Legislators have filed several amendments to the Ways and Means budget that would devote significant additional funding to early education and care. These include amendments for serving additional children on the state’s Income Eligible waitlist, creating new pre-kindergarten classrooms in underperforming districts, increasing early educator salaries and benefits, and many more. See below for a list of amendments.

The House begins debating the state budget on Monday, April 28. Contact your representative today! For more information on the FY15 budget, please visit our website.

 

Early education and care amendments to the House FY15 Budget:

 

#900 Early Childhood Education Waitlist – Rep. Livingstone lead sponsor.
Increases Income Eligible waitlist support by $7.5 million, which would provide early education access to an additional 1,250 children currently on the state’s waitlist.

#923 K1 Classroom Grant Program and Universal Early Education in Underperforming School Districts – Rep. Decker lead sponsor.
Provides $2.5 million for new local grants to expand pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds in underperforming districts. Grants would be developed jointly by the Department of Early Education and Care and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

#941 Early Education and Care Salary Rate Reserve – Reps. Chan and Binienda lead sponsors.
Provides $22.6 million for early educator salaries, benefits, and professional development, through a rate increase for subsidized early education and care programs.

#1012 Full Day Kindergarten Transition Funding – Rep. Dykema lead sponsor,
#767 An Amendment For Kindergarten Expansion Grants – Rep. Kuros lead sponsor, and
#813 Kindergarten Expansion Grants – Rep. Hecht lead sponsor.
These amendments increase funding for grants to school districts to provide high-quality full-day kindergarten.

#356 Early Education & Care Administration – Rep. Peisch lead sponsor.
Provides an additional $409,000 for administrative support at the Department of Early Education and Care.

#758 Parent Child Home Program – Rep. Keenan lead sponsor.
Restores a $2 million cut under House Ways and Means to line item 3000-7050, funding critical Early Education and Care programs for family engagement and educator professional development.

#413 DEEC-DCF Transportation Monitors and Case Management – Rep. Kocot lead sponsor.
Provides an additional $21.1 million for a transportation rate adjustment to fund adult monitors on vehicles transporting children in the department of children and families caseload.

#517 Childcare and Referral Services Amendment – Rep. Naughton, Jr. lead sponsor.
Provides an additional $1.4 million for early education and care resource and referral agencies.

#782 DEEC – Early Education and Child Care Services for TAFDC Families – Rep. Khan lead sponsor.
Provides an additional $3 million for early education and care access for children in eligible families.

#812 Head Start – Rep. Schmid lead sponsor.
Increases state support for Head Start and Early Head Start by $1.9 million.

#914 DEEC Supportive Early Education and Child Care – Rep. Khan lead sponsor.
Provides an additional $1.5 million for early education and care access for eligible children.

#958 Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) – Rep. Decker lead sponsor.
Provides $2.5 million for the information technology costs of implementing a quality rating improvement system for early education and care in the commonwealth.

#771 Foundation Budget Review Commission – Rep. O’Connell lead sponsor.
For a commission to review calculation methods for the foundation budget for education, including calculations for preschool programs for all 3 and 4 year-olds and full-day kindergarten among other priority areas.

 

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State HouseIn January, Governor Patrick released his $36.4 billion state budget proposal for fiscal year 2015. The governor’s plan included $531.74 million for programs administered by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), including $15 million in new funds to provide program access to preschool age children on the state’s Income Eligible waitlist.

On April 9, the House Committee on Ways and Means released its FY15 budget. The proposal includes $515.25 million for EEC and its programs, which is less than the governor’s proposal, but still a modest increase relative to FY14 appropriation levels. Increases are distributed primarily across the traditional three early education access accounts (Supportive, TANF, Income Eligible) as well as $7.5 million in a separate Income Eligible waitlist reduction account. The Governor’s proposal for K1 pre-kindergarten classroom grants ($2 million) was not funded in the House Ways and Means budget. Services for Infants and Parents (3000-7050) which funds EEC’s Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grants was cut by $2 million.

In addition, the House Ways and Means budget provides level funding relative to FY14 appropriations for several key programs including Universal Pre-K, Head Start, Access Management, Mental Health, and Reach Out and Read.

In a State House News story, House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey said that there would be an opportunity for lawmakers to debate whether they’d like to commit additional resources to early education. He said, “We always want to do more and we did our very best out of the gate, but my good friends and colleagues behind me and those who will be debating the budget the week of the 28th will continue to try to improve upon the document and improve upon the proposal, but I think we are clearly committing to all areas of education.” The House budget debate is scheduled to take place the week of April 28.

Representatives have until Friday, April 11 at 5pm to file amendments to the House Ways and Means budget. Stay tuned for information about amendments and what you can do to support young children and families.

Below is a review of early education and related programs where funding proposals differ across House Ways and Means, Governor Patrick’s proposal, and FY14 spending:

  • EEC Administration (3000-1000)
    HWM: $13.26 million
    Governor: $13.67 million
    FY14: $12.93 million
  • Supportive Child Care (3000-3050)
    HWM: $79.73 million
    Governor: $81.24 million
    FY14: $76.99 million
  • Income Eligible Waitlist Reduction (3000-4040)
    HWM: $7.5 million
    Governor: $15 million
    FY14: $15 million (under 3000-4070)
  • TANF (3000-4050)
    HWM: $133.48 million
    Governor: $136.55 million
    FY14: $128.06 million
  • Income Eligible (3000-4060)
    HWM: $241.89 million
    Governor: $241.89 million
    FY14: $222.84 million
  • K1 Classroom Grant Program (3000-5025)
    HWM: not funded
    Governor: $2 million (new initiative)
  • Services for Infants and Parents (3000-7050)
    HWM: $16.16 million
    Governor: $18.16 million
    FY14: $18.16 million
  • Full-Day Kindergarten Grants (7030-1002)
    HWM: $23.95 million
    Governor: $27.05 million
    FY14: $23.95 million

For more information on the FY15 budget process, please contact Titus DosRemedios, director of research and policy, at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org

 

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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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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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Photo: Mike McLaughlin for Strategies for Children

This blog was originally published on March 31, 2011. House Speaker DeLeo left the State House and visited a pre-K class, crossing the bridge from the world of law- and policy-making to the land of learning to read beloved books. 

REVERE – Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo took a seat the other day in a pre-kindergarten classroom at the Garfield Community Magnet School here, facing some 40 children, ages 3 to 5, sitting on a colorful carpet with their legs crossed like pretzels. He opened the book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” — and before he started reading he asked the children about the bars of color on the inside cover. “Brown, red, yellow, blue, green, purple,…” the children replied.

Here was the speaker engaging in dialogic reading, combining reading aloud with conversation to build the language skills that are the foundation of literacy.

“I don’t know how to read,” one child called out.

“But you’re getting there,” Speaker DeLeo said. (He reveals his favorite children’s book at the end of this blog post.) (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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Tom Weber, Commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care. Photo: Strategies for Children

Tom Weber, Commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care.
Photo: Strategies for Children

On December 31st, a state commission issued a report on the Massachusetts Department of Early and Care (EEC). Established by the state’s fiscal year 2014 budget, the Special Commission on Early Education and Care Operations and Finance included state legislators and officials as well as early education and care providers and advocates. EEC Commissioner Tom Weber served as the commission’s chair.

“This Special Commission was created in response to the Legislature’s interest in learning more about matters of the Department’s operations and finance that arose last winter,” Weber explains in the report’s cover letter. “Since that time, the Department has experienced a change in leadership and undertaken independently a number of operational improvements and reforms…”

As Weber explains, these improvements and reforms include:

- better estimations of true demand in the Income Eligible Waitlist

- a comprehensive update of the EEC Internal Control Plan in consultation with the Office of the Comptroller

- new access management systems that have led to “the swift and successful expansion of Income-Eligible subsidies under the new Waitlist Remediation line item (3000-4070) and will maximize the commonwealth’s investment in early education across Fiscal Year 2014 by mitigating against either a deficit or a reversion.” (more…)

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Photo: Eric Haynes, governor's office

Photo: Eric Haynes, governor’s office

Yesterday afternoon, Governor Patrick released his $36.4 billion state budget proposal for fiscal year 2015. In it, he recognizes that we will not close the commonwealth’s longstanding achievement gaps unless we target resources to early learning. His plan proposes new investments to ensure access to high-quality programs, maintains funding for access to existing programs, and recommends new strategic investments in quality early learning programs. Key highlights include:

  • EEC Access Accounts: $40.2 million to support projected caseloads at the Department of Early Education and Care, including maintaining FY14 investments that saw 2,400 new students removed from the waitlist.
  • Birth through Pre-School Expansion: $15 million in additional funding to increase access to high-quality early education programs for 1,700 qualified children from birth to age five.
  • K1 Classroom Grant Program:  $2 million for a new grant program available to local partnerships to provide educational opportunities to 4-year olds through the creation of pre-kindergarten classrooms. Preference shall be given to innovative, collaborative proposals jointly proposed by school districts, private providers, human service agencies, and local and regional non-profits.
  • Chapter 70 pre-k funding: $2 million to increase Chapter 70 to fully finance pre-kindergarten costs for school districts who offer pre-kindergarten classrooms.
  • Full-Day Kindergarten: $3.1 million to increase and refocus kindergarten expansion grants to provide communities without full-day kindergarten classrooms the ability to offer such classrooms.

In addition, the Department of Early Education and Care administrative line item received a 5.7% increase for staffing needs to enhance program licensing capacity and other functions. The Governor also proposed $2.5 million for information technology costs associated with implementing the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System.

Many early education line items received level funding under the Governor’s plan, including Universal Pre-k, Head Start, Access Management, Mental Health, Services for Infants and Parents, and Reach Out and Read.

Click here to thank Governor Patrick for supporting early education in the FY15 state budget.

Read Strategies for Children’s statement on the Governor’s budget proposal here.

The advocacy focus now shifts to the Legislature. Join us on Tuesday, February 4 at 9am for State House Advocacy Day for Early Education & Care and School Age Programs.

For more information on the Governor’s budget proposal, contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org

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Statement of Carolyn Lyons, President/CEO, Strategies for Children

Governor Patrick’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal

 “Strategies for Children applauds Governor Patrick’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, in which he increases investments in high-quality early education to close the achievement gap. Today in Massachusetts, too many children show up for kindergarten already behind, and too many will never catch up. Research clearly demonstrates the lasting short- and long-term positive impact of high-quality early education – on everything from reduced grade retention and special needs placements to improved school readiness, high school graduation, college attendance, adult earnings and health.

We will not close the commonwealth’s longstanding achievement gaps unless we target resources to early learning. Governor Patrick’s budget recognizes this. The plan proposes new investments to ensure access to high-quality programs, maintains funding for access to existing programs, and recommends new strategic investments in quality early learning programs. It builds off progress made in fiscal year 2014 to reduce the wait list for preschool programs.

Through his proposal, Governor Patrick joins policymakers across the nation who are acting upon the evidence that learning begins at birth, and to give children a chance to succeed, we must invest in high-quality early education. We applaud the governor for his leadership and look forward to working with the Legislature to support these critical initiatives to close the achievement gap and ensure all of our children have a chance to succeed in school and in life.”

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