Archive for the ‘NAEYC’ Category

U.S. CapitolYesterday afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Last reauthorized in 1996, the Child Care and Development Block Grant is a cornerstone of federal assistance in early childhood education. Most funding for early education and care in Massachusetts comes from CCDBG and other federal sources. It is therefore critical for CCDBG to reflect high-quality program standards, including health and safety standards.

An analysis by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) shows this reauthorization makes the following improvements:

  • Raises the floor for health and safety by requiring any provider who receives CCDBG funds (except relatives) to be subject to licensing, annual inspections and criminal background checks; providers who are license-exempt would be inspected for health and safety;
  • Requires more transparent information for families who are seeking child care options and assistance;
  • Prohibits the use of child assessments for high stakes purposes for children and programs;
  • Raises the minimum states must use for quality from the current 4 percent to 9 percent over the next five years; places additional focus and resources toward quality infant and toddler care; continues to allow states flexibility in the types of innovations and systems work for which they can use CCDBG quality funds with explicit recognition of quality rating and improvement systems, professional development, and support for programs to become accredited;
  • Requires eligibility at minimum of twelve months, regardless of any changes that may occur to a family’s income or work, training, or education status.

While Massachusetts continues to make progress advancing state-level early education policy, this reauthorization is a critical federal component in advancing access for all families to high-quality early education and care.

For more information on CCDBG reauthorization, visit EdCentral.

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Photo: Courtesy of the Milton Early Childhood Alliance

Photo: Courtesy of the Milton Early Childhood Alliance

On a rainy day last month in Milton, preschoolers and their parents wearing raincoats and boots went for a “StoryWalk,” at Mass Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum.

What’s a StoryWalk? Children go for a walk and stop along the way where the pages of a book are posted so they can hear the story read aloud — or read it themselves or to a younger sibling.

In this case, the book read was “Possum and the Peeper” by Anne Hunter, a seasonally appropriate book about a possum woken from his winter nap by peeping sounds. Laminated pages of the book were posted along the way. The Patriot Ledger has a photo gallery of the StoryWalk here.

Susan Dolan, the director of the Milton Early Childhood Alliance, organized this StoryWalk with the Trailside Museum, and she explains that StoryWalks promote early literacy, encourage parents and children to do outdoor activities, and support the crucial idea that parents are their children’s first teachers. In addition, Dolan says, StoryWalks introduce parents and children to new books. (more…)

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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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Megina Baker.   Photo courtesy of Megina Baker.

Megina Baker. Photo courtesy of the Early Childhood Learning Lab at Boston University.

How does a preschool teacher change public policy?

For Megina Baker, the process started with always having wanted to be a teacher. A college graduate of Cornell University, she studied abroad in Sweden and did a practicum in a Swedish preschool.

“I sort of fell for how creative teachers can be and how capable the children are,” Baker says of her career, which also includes earning a master’s degree in early childhood education at Tufts University and years of teaching in Sweden and in the Boston area.

No two days in a preschool classroom are ever the same, Baker said, adding what could be a motto for teachers and parents: “You have to be very flexible in order to figure out what is interesting to each child.”

Several years ago, Baker went to a MassAEYC conference and attended an advocacy session run by Strategies for Children. She’d been looking for a way to connect to the policy world.

At the end of this session, Baker says, participants were asked to commit to one action: write to a state senator, participate in the Rising Stars program, or testify at a State House hearing on a bill that was being proposed at the time, An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency.

“And I thought, ‘I could do that,’” Baker said of testifying.

She packed up examples of children’s work, eager to explain to legislators what “embedded, authentic early literacy experiences” look like. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

As we wrote here, the annual national conference for NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children) is coming up, November 20th to the 23rd, 2013, in Washington, DC.

Part of the conference is a special event: “Visit with Your U.S. Senators.”

“Imagine 1,000 Early Childhood Professionals Meeting with Members of Congress on the Same Day,” an NAEYC web page says.

And fortunately, now that the federal government has opened back up, early educators will be able to make this visit.

The event, scheduled for Wednesday, November 20th, will be “a unique opportunity for you as an NAEYC member to meet with your U.S. Senators. Join your state team and share your story about the importance of high quality early childhood education and how to make it a reality for all children,” the web page explains.

Why? “Senators need to hear real stories about the impact of their policy decisions on the children and early childhood programs in your state.”

NAEYC members will meet their Senators in state teams “to discuss federal funding and policies for child care, Head Start, K-3 and higher education quality and access.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Imagine Innovate Inspire: That’s the theme of this year’s information-packed Annual Conference and Expo that NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children) will host in Washington, DC, from November 20-23, 2013.

“This is an exciting time for our field, and there is unprecedented national momentum and support for early learning,” NAEYC’s new executive director Rhian Evans Allvin, writes in the program to welcome participants. “The information you gain [at the conference] will allow you to innovate as you apply new skills and knowledge in your work.”

Thousands of early education professionals are expected to attend some 800 sessions. Session topics include:

- Children’s right to play

- The best new books for preschool

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

- Professional development for early educators

- Developing an early childhood research agenda (more…)

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