Posted in Dept. of Early Education and Care, Early educators, Family child care, Full-day kindergarten, Infants and toddlers, MA governor, MA Legislature, MA state budget, Pre-kindergarten, Professional development & preparation, QRIS on November 18, 2013 |
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Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children
The new budget season will begin in January when Governor Patrick presents his state budget recommendations for fiscal year 2015.
So this month, the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) met to approve its FY15 aspirational budget. FY15 starts on July 1, 2014.
Last Year’s EEC Budget
Last year’s FY14 EEC budget was $509 million. It included:
- $15 million to reduce the wait list for early education and care for children from income-eligible families. The FY 14 budget also had
- $11.5 million for a rate reserve to support early educators’ salaries and benefits
- level funding for universal pre-K, full-day kindergarten and the early childhood educator scholarships
- funding for a special commission to study the cost of administering early education and care services
- funding for a two-year independent study of the state’s provision of child care supports
FY15 Budget Proposal
This year the EEC Board is asking for an increase of $93.7 million. This increased investment is a wise step that would expand children’s access to early education (more…)
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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children
When preschool and out-of-school time teachers need resources to improve as professionals, they can turn to Massachusetts’ Educator and Provider Support (EPS) networks.
The networks just received $3.17 million in state-funded grant awards to help educators improve their skills and knowledge.
The EPS grant funds will focus on “three core areas of the professional development system: educator and provider planning, coaching and mentoring, and competency development,” according to the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).
“We know from academic research, from years of public policy and from our own experience as parents that investing in our children at a young age pays huge dividends for them and for our communities as a whole,” Governor Deval Patrick said in a press release. “Part of that is ensuring the people who care [for] and teach our children are well prepared and supported in their work. These grants will go a long way in helping us enhance the quality of the early education and out-of-school services available to families across Massachusetts.” (more…)
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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children
Stacy Reinacher kept having the same problem. Parents were turned off by the rating of her home-based family child care program. Her story appeared in a recent two-day series in the Wisconsin State Journal.
As the first article explains: “Her small, in-home center in Madison earned just two stars out of five — the most common rating and nothing to be ashamed of, yet disappointing to some parents.” Reinacher says in the article: “You’d say two stars, and they’d be like, ‘Really, that’s it?’ And then you wouldn’t hear from them again.”
Reinacher had the same challenge as other providers who seek a high rating: a lack of college credits.
Brooke Hill ran into the same problem. Her child care business only received two stars despite her years of experience.
“She was furious,” the article said. “A veteran child care provider, she believed the rating didn’t reflect the quality of her center, Bear-A-Boo Daycare. Plus, she wasn’t given much time to understand the criteria before being rated, she said, especially the part about how closely her score would be tied to the educational qualifications of her staff.” (more…)
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Acting Commissioner Tom Weber shared an update on the FY14 state budget process, noting that he is meeting with Conference Committee members to encourage them to support the portions of the House and Senate budgets that are favorable to EEC-related funding. Weber notes that if the best of both budgets make it through conference committee, EEC could come out $24 million ahead of the funding level projected in its FY14 maintenance budget.
Other highlights of the June 11 meeting include:
- Acting in support of EEC’s effort to clearly articulate its vision of program quality and look at the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) as a whole, the board voted to reinstate a set of standards into the QRIS that it had voted to remove during February’s meeting. EEC Policy Director Carol Nolan noted that early educators in the field appreciate the fact that the department is taking time to step back, reflect and look thoroughly at the QRIS in the context of the overall system.
- The Board voted to submit its Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) state plan to the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF). In order to receive CCDF funds, states are required by federal law to submit a State Plan every two years. The final version must be submitted to ACF by July 1, 2013.
- The Board heard updates from members of the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Network regarding the transition to a new CCR&R delivery model developed by Child Care Aware, a national organization that allows grantees across the state to increase efficiencies through the implementation of a (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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At his first meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care, newly sworn-in Secretary of Education Matthew Malone called Governor Patrick’s recommendations for early education in the fiscal year 2014 budget “a game-changing moment” and asked those in the audience to urge their legislators to support increased investments in early education. Secretary Malone, the former superintendent of schools in Brockton, also encouraged programs to invite him to visit.
Other highlights of the February 12 meeting include:
- The board voted to submit its annual legislative report, which includes an update on EEC’s work in FY13, framed around the board’s five-year strategic plan. The report highlights EEC’s ongoing work on the Educator Provider Support system, the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), screening and assessment, community and family engagement, and challenges regarding access.
- The board voted to remove several requirements in three sets of Massachusetts QRIS standards that were identified as being redundant in an analysis by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. See Program Quality Improvements: QRIS.
- Commissioner Sherri Killins announced the department has opened access to summer programs.
- The board discussed revisions to the strategic plan, which is framed around seven key areas: standards, assessments and accountability; finance; governance; regulations; workforce and professional development; alignment between early education and care and K-12; and informed families and public. See Revisions to EEC’s Strategic Plan and Preview of Core Area Definitions.
- The board heard a panel discussion on collaboration among agencies, including EEC, that serve children and families. A series of three leadership retreats in 2013 will focus on strategies for developing a universal informed consent form to facilitate cross-agency data sharing and for developing cross-agency professional development opportunities. The panel included Commissioner Angelo McClain of the Department of Children and Families, Dr. Lauren A. Smith of the Department of Public Health, Joan Mikula of the Department of Mental Health, and Ita Mulllarkey of the Department of Housing and Community Development. The retreats are funded by the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant. See Interagency Partnerships.
The next EEC board meeting will be held March 12, 2013, from 2:30-4 p.m. at 51 Sleeper Street in Boston (Note the meeting time).
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The audience at the November meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care broke into applause when the panel approved a fiscal year 2014 budget ask of $557,509,730, which is $69.4 million above current funding levels.
Our research and field associate, Emily Levine, who attended the meeting, reports that the $69.4 million will support access, quality and the early childhood workforce, as well as transportation. Here’s a breakdown:
- An investment in quality: $15.6 million
- Workforce quality: A rate increase of 3% to support an increase in salaries, benefits and stipends for early education and care workers ($13.8 million)
- Quality Rating and Improvement System : A $1 million set-aside to support investments in QRIS and help sustain program improvements
- Quality infrastructure: $0.8 million to support staffing to hold providers accountable for health and safety, quality care and quality programs
- An investment in children and families: $36.2 million to open access for preschool-age children
- An investment in transportation: $17.6 million to affirm the board’s June vote to increase the rate paid for transportation to support system improvements and the addition of an adult monitor on all vehicles carrying infants, toddlers and preschool-age children.
In other news: (more…)
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The Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care welcomed its newest member, Mary Walachy, executive director of the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation in Springfield. Under Walachy’s leadership, the foundation launched Cherish Every Child, a citywide initiative to ensure that children enter kindergarten ready to succeed, and the citywide Reading Success by Fourth Grade campaign. Walachy also serves as co-chair of Homes Within Reach, Springfield’s plan to end homelessness. She is a board and executive committee member of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and a trustee and member of the coordinating council of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Plan for Progress. The Davis Foundation has been a longtime partner and supporter of our work, and Mary Walachy serves on the Advisory and Policy Committees of our Early Education for All Campaign.
EEC Board Chairman JD Chesloff welcomed Walachy as a “tremendous advocate for children.” Secretary of Education Paul Reville called her a “very visible leader in education.” Chesloff and Reville also thanked Mary Pat Messmer for her service on the board.
The EEC board also voted to allocate $800,000 for the second round of fiscal year Universal Pre-Kindergarten grants, which, as I noted in yesterday’s post, are open to new applicants as well as existing UPK programs. This year’s open competitive grants are being awarded under new guidelines that align UPK with the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System.
The board also discussed plans to review information contained in the department’s wait list to determine families’ need for access to child care. EEC will continue to monitor the amount of time children are on the wait list prior to receiving services and seeks to better understand parents’ choices regarding program type and geography. The review is also designed to help EEC understand the impact of policy decisions on the wait list.
The board heard a panel discussion on community support grants that support strategic planning for birth-8 assessment, screening and curriculum alignment. The panel members were David Thomas, early childhood coordinator for the Barnstable Public Schools; Rita Celia Triumph, an Early Head Start grantee in Taunton; and Dr. Anne McKenzie of the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative.
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