Photo: Wrentham Public Schools

Photo: Wrentham Public Schools

Strategies for Children is happy to welcome former school superintendent Chris Martes to the helm as our new president and CEO. On July 1, 2014, Martes officially replaced Carolyn Lyons who joined Strategies in 2002.

Lyons and Martes have been working together for several months to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

Martes initial plans?

“I am really going to be spending quite a bit of time learning and listening,” Martes said in a recent interview.

He is very excited about the Massachusetts Third Grade Reading Proficiency Learning Network that Strategies has set up among four Massachusetts communities — Boston, Holyoke, Pittsfield, Springfield.  “Now we have a good story to tell,” he said, pointing to the momentum at the local level as communities work to better align efforts to support children from birth through third grade.  “We are excited to think about potential opportunities to work with additional communities that have shown interest.”

A Career in Public Schools

Martes says he was drawn to education thanks to the influence of “great teachers and coaches.”  He grew up in Foxborough, where he served as a fifth grade teacher, an interim principal, and later as the superintendent of schools, enjoying the opportunity to give back to his hometown community. Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »

In Quotes

“By giving more of our kids access to high-quality preschool and other early learning programs — and by helping parents get the tools they need to help their kids succeed — we can give those kids a better shot at the career they are capable of and the life that will make us all better off.

“This is one of my top priorities and I want to thank the growing coalition of researchers, nonprofits, and foundations who have made it one of theirs.”

President Barack Obama in a Too Small to Fail video posted on June 25, 2014

Photo: Courtesy of Brain Building in Progress

Illustration: Courtesy of Brain Building in Progress

Don’t settle for just commuting on the T’s buses and trains. If you’re traveling with a child, use the trip to help build that child’s brain.

“When you ride the T this summer, you may see this ‘I am a Brain Builder’ ad highlighting teachable moments for parents and children while they ride public transit,” according to the Brain Building on the T website.

That ad is part of a campaign that was launched on Monday by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley – both leaders of the state’s Brain Building in Progress effort.

Brain Building in Progress is a public/private partnership “to raise awareness of the critical importance of fostering the cognitive, social, and emotional development of young children by emphasizing its future impact on the economic prosperity of everyone in Massachusetts.”

Commuters can see the brain building ads on Orange and Red Line trains as well as on several bus routes. They are scheduled to run through the summer. Continue Reading »

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.

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

The interesting thing about Liz Belsito’s favorite children’s book — “Whose Mouse Are You?” by Robert Kraus, which her parents read to her when she was young – is that the book’s theme of family engagement echoes a key theme in Belsito’s career.

“I’ve always tended to wear the family support hat,” Belsito said of her work, in a recent interview. A college graduate of UMass Amherst with an MSW from SUNY Albany, Belsito said that within social work she focused on public policy.

Today, Belsito is the Race to the Top Project Director at the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). She oversees the efforts funded by the $50 million, federal Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge grant that Massachusetts was awarded in 2011. EEC has used the grant to build on the earlier work Massachusetts has done to build a high-quality and responsive system of early education and care.

Now that there are 18 months left in this four-year grant, we asked Belsito to tell us about recent and upcoming Race to the Top efforts. Continue Reading »

In Quotes

“Reading with young children is a joyful way to build strong and healthy parent-child relationships and stimulate early language development… The benefits are so compelling that encouraging reading at check-ups has become an essential part of care.”

Dr. Pamela High, a pediatrician and professor at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, “Pediatricians Call For Parents To Read Aloud To Their Children Every Day,” The Huffington Post, June 24, 2014


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