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Archive for the ‘MA state budget’ Category

14359821987_be01fd4731_mYesterday, The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 25th edition of its KIDS COUNT Data Book, a statistical look at children’s well-being.

The report shows that, “Children have a greater opportunity to thrive and succeed in Massachusetts than in any other state,” according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), the home of KIDS COUNT here in the commonwealth.

This is exciting news for Massachusetts, but it comes with an important caveat: There is still much more work to do.

The Massachusetts KIDS COUNT data profile reports that 15 percent of the state’s children lived in poverty in 2012. And despite being first in the nation in education and fourth grade reading, 53 percent of this state’s fourth graders cannot read proficiently. Thirty percent of children have parents who don’t have secure jobs. And while an impressive 99 percent of Massachusetts’s children have health insurance, it’s also true that this state’s children are as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as children across the country.

MassBudget released the new data yesterday at an event hosted by Nurtury (formerly Associated Early Care and Education) in its brand new Learning Lab in Jamaica Plain where Governor Deval Patrick spoke, along with state legislators, local leaders, and Chris Martes, Strategies for Children’s new president and CEO. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Are you preparing to build a new early childhood or out-of-school-time space?

The Children’s Investment Fund (CIF) wants to know.

“We would like to identify organizations with capital needs that may be eligible for the EEOST Capital Fund in subsequent funding rounds within the next four years, so we can help with the early planning and predevelopment process,” according to an email announcement from Mav Pardee, CIF’s program manager. “If you are thinking about a facility improvement project, please complete the following survey.

The EEOST is the new Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund. Supported by CIF and other organizations, the five-year, $45 million capital fund was created by Massachusetts’ lawmakers last year.

The capital fund will finance grants that can be used to pay for acquisition, design, construction, repair, and renovations. To be eligible applicants must be nonprofit, tax-exempt, licensed programs where at least 25 percent of enrolled children receive subsidies. The Department of Early Education and Care will release applications for the grant this summer. (more…)

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Last Friday, Governor Deval Patrick signed the fiscal year 2015 state budget into law. The $36.5 billion FY15 budget includes significant increases for early education and care, including:

  • $15 million in new spending for serving approximately 1,700 children currently on the state’s Income Eligible waiting list;
  • $6.57 million rate reserve for early educator salaries and benefits;
  • New $1 million pre-k classroom grant program; and
  • $1 million increase for Head Start programs.

In addition, the budget level funds core quality support programs including Universal Pre-K grants, Full-Day Kindergarten, and the Early Childhood Educator Scholarship.

This budget represents the largest overall funding increase for early education since 2008 and the second consecutive year of increases.

Massachusetts readers: Please take a minute to contact Governor Patrick and your state legislators, and thank them for prioritizing early education in FY15.

The FY15 budget is another step in the right direction, but additional resources will be needed to achieve universal access to high-quality early education and care in Massachusetts. Stay tuned for more policy and advocacy opportunities in the months ahead, and sign up today to receive news and updates from Strategies for Children and the Early Education for All campaign.

Visit our website for a complete listing of early education and care line items in the state budget, or contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org for more information.

 

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“Even in the face of the most significant economic and fiscal challenges in generations, we have shared an unshakable commitment to investing in education, from early education through higher education, recognizing that education is the foundation for opportunity and economic mobility.” 

Governor Deval Patrick, Letter to the Senate and House of Representatives, July 11, 2014

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Photo: Micaela Bedell For Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell For Strategies for Children

Early childhood is getting new attention from the 4th Annual Healthy People/Healthy Economy Report Card.

“The annual report card examines progress in 12 issue areas that can be linked to improvements in public health,” according to a news release from the Boston Foundation, a member of the Healthy People/Healthy Economy Coalition, which released the report.

“Research continues to show that high quality early childhood care and education not only prepare children for success in school, they create a foundation for good health over the course of a lifetime,” the report says, adding, “Children who receive good care and education in their preschool years gain as much as a full year of development and educational growth compared to children entering school without the benefit of early services.”

“Expanding early childhood education has been a key piece of education discussions this year, but we know its impact isn’t limited to academics,” Paul Grogan, president and CEO of the Boston Foundation, said in the news release. Grogan is also co-chair of the Healthy People/Healthy Economy Coalition. (more…)

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State HouseOn Sunday, June 29, the six-member budget conference committee released its fiscal year 2015 state budget. At stake was $32 million in funding differences between House and Senate proposals for early education and care programs. The final version invests approximately $25 million of that amount in early education.

The $36.5 billion FY15 budget includes more than $534 million for early education and care, including $15 million in new spending for serving children on the state’s Income Eligible waiting list, a $6.57 million rate reserve for early educator salaries and benefits, and a new $1 million pre-k classroom grant program. Core quality support programs were preserved with level funding, including Universal Pre-K grants, Full-Day Kindergarten, and the Early Childhood Educator Scholarship.

This budget represents the largest funding increase for early education since 2008. Your collective advocacy for investments in young children made it possible!

The Legislature passed the budget on Monday afternoon, which is now sent to Governor Patrick who has 10 days to review and sign it into law or make vetoes. A $4.6 billion interim budget will keep the government funded through July.

Massachusetts readers: Contact Governor Patrick today and ask him to sign the FY15 budget into law.

Visit our website for a complete listing of early education and care line items in the state budget, or contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org for more information.

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GOV Forum logoIn a forum at UMass Boston on Saturday, eight of the candidates in the Massachusetts race for governor made news by agreeing that the commonwealth should improve the quality of preschool programs and expand access to them.

This consensus adds to the growing political support for early education and care both here in Massachusetts and nationally. Ten years ago, research on the benefits of high-quality pre-k were not widely understood, nor part of the public discourse. Today, policymakers and candidates understand that these programs are essential first steps in educating children and preparing them to succeed in the state’s high-tech economy.

Sponsored by Strategies for Children and more than two dozen other organizations (see program agenda for full sponsor list), the “Early Childhood and Education: Closing the Achievement and Opportunity Gaps – 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates Forum” gave candidates the opportunity to share their vision for educating the state’s youngest children. It was a chance to hear how the next governor of Massachusetts might reshape the landscape of early education and care. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

As we wrote last week in Part One of this blog, the Ninth Annual Wheelock Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care called on the field to: unite; develop an agenda; and tell a compelling story that will inspire policymakers — especially the next governor of Massachusetts — to commit to a grand plan for improving the commonwealth’s early education and care system.

Interactive Dialogue Groups

After the keynote speakers, the audience broke into smaller interactive dialogue groups that covered a range of topics, including:

- family engagement

- assessments

- infants and toddlers

- play

(more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“I’d like to welcome our commissioner who has come… We are thrilled to see so many of our Wheelock alums… Mayor Clare Higgins is back by popular demand!” said Wheelock College President Jackie Jenkins-Scott as she welcomed all the participants who came to her school for the “Ninth Annual Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care: Our Children’s Future — Time for a New Plan.”

Higgins, the former mayor of Northampton, attended last year’s dialogue; and this year she was joined by advocates, educators, and policy analysts who spoke to an audience of 200 about how best to bring high-quality early education and care to more of Massachusetts’ children.

The goal for the day was reinforced throughout the three-hour event: Unite; develop an agenda; and tell a compelling story that will inspire policymakers — especially the next governor of Massachusetts — to commit to a grand plan for improving the commonwealth’s early education and care system. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

In 2010, the Springfield Housing Authority used philanthropic funding to launch its Talk/Read/Succeed Program, a place-based early literacy initiative that helps children living in public housing become proficient readers by the fourth grade.

This year, the Massachusetts Legislature may invest public dollars into the program – potentially expanding this promising public/private partnership. An amendment to the Senate Ways and Means Budget filed by Senators James T. Welch (D-West Springfield) and Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham) would give Talk/Read/Succeed $250,000 in state funding — an investment that would continue to support children’s early learning and lay the foundation for their future success in school and beyond.

The Talk/Read/Succeed Story

Back when it started, Talk/Read/Succeed relied on guidance and grants from the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This philanthropic base of funding led to several positive outcomes. (more…)

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