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“I am a product of early education and care; and my daughter is a product of it as well,” Nikki Burnett told us recently. Burnett’s daughter is currently a student at Howard University.

As for Burnett herself she has come full circle. Born and raised in Massachusetts, in Springfield’s Mason Square neighborhood, Burnett worked for over a decade as a senior administrator at the American Heart Association. Now she’s back in Mason Square working as the executive director of the new Educare Springfield center, which just opened this month and is already at full enrollment.

Educare is an evidence-based national network of 25 early education programs with the sweeping goal of figuring out “the most effective and the most promising ways to work with each individual child and each individual family, and we do that with excitement and passion for the work,” according to Charlotte Brantley, the president and CEO of the Clayton Early Learning, Educare Denver.

Burnett echoes this ambition, explaining, “We may only have 141 children enrolled, but we are beholden to the education of all children.” Educare’s approach is to innovate and share its work on preparing young children to succeed in school. Burnett wants to ensure that all the children whose lives she touches aren’t struggling to catch up in kindergarten – as well as in first, second, and third grade. Continue Reading »

 

What do businesses and parents have in common?

They both benefit from affordable, high-quality child care.

That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has released a report – “Building Bridges Creating Strong Partnerships for Early Childhood Education” – that calls on the business community and early education advocates to find more opportunities to work together to develop “shared solutions.”

The need for solutions is clear. As the report explains, research shows that “the U.S. economy loses an astounding $57 billion per year in revenue, wages, and productivity as a result of issues related to childcare.”

To understand the ingredients of successful business/early education partnerships, the Chamber Foundation asked more than 150 business community members and early education advocates for their insights.

The result, JD Chesloff explains is that, “The report provides valuable guidance on how business leaders and advocates can work together to create more high-quality, affordable child care.” Chesloff is the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, and he served for ten years on the board of Massachusetts’ Department of Early Education and Care.

“The report acknowledges up front that business leaders and advocates often have different agendas,” Chesloff adds. “That’s why they have to do the work to understand each other, communicate with each other, and share resources. That’s the formula for forming successful partnerships. And that’s why this report is a must read for anyone looking to make change in early childhood education.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Across the country, K-12 schools are spreading their wings by working in the early education space. It’s an approach that promises to help more young children succeed as they transition into elementary school.

One example in the suburbs of Omaha, Neb., is Belleaire Elementary School, where providing a good education includes working with families before children are old enough to go to school.

“Belleaire is one of 10 schools in the Omaha metropolitan area that are rethinking the scope of early childhood education,” an EdSurge article says. “Traditionally, early childhood education focuses on serving children before they reach kindergarten. But more recently, researchers have begun to think about early childhood education as encompassing the first eight years—years that are critical for neural development and where early interventions can have a profound impact in later years.”

This is all part of Omaha’s Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan, a $2.5 million per year initiative that’s funded by a tax measure. Continue Reading »

Facing a “crisis-level” shortage of child care, Colorado’s Senate has released the “Infant and Family Child Care Action Plan: A strategic action plan to address infant and family child care home shortages in Colorado.”

Colorado’s leadership in addressing this problem sets an example for states like Massachusetts where child care spots are also declining.

The plan notes in part:

“To maintain the momentum of our booming economy we need to support our working families. When that support comes in the form of access to safe, licensed child care, it in turn supports the healthy growth and development of Colorado’s next generation of thinkers, innovators, and workers.”

However, “licensed infant care has been decreasing since 2010. Additionally, family child care homes, sometimes the only accessible care option for families, have been declining for years. The loss of family child care homes also means the loss of significant numbers of licensed infant care. Although the decrease in family child care homes is consistent with national trends, Colorado currently exceeds the national average in the rate of overall decline. The impact of these decreases in licensed capacity is reflected in the fact that 25% of centers and 42% of homes reported having a wait list for infants.”

“To create a Colorado child care landscape where families can afford and access the care they need and want, Colorado must add at least 7000 infant slots in centers and over 200 family child care home providers.” Continue Reading »

 

Parents and caregivers can’t always know what to expect from their children. But thanks to a terrific video called “1, 2, 3 Grow,” they can learn more early childhood’s milestones.

The video features doctors and parents discussing milestones in four areas: movement, social relationships, communication, and thinking.

The goal is to give parents and caregivers a sense of what to expect – and what to ask pediatricians about – as their children grow.

The videos were produced by University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center and by members of the Massachusetts Act Early state team. Continue Reading »

 

One tool that early childhood advocates use well is storytelling.

Stories about parents, children, educators, and programs help the public see the power of early learning.

Here at Strategies for Children, we share the stories of early educators and leaders in the field to show how public policy affects real people. Stories also illustrate how important it is to make meaningful public investments in young children. That’s why we also share stories with elected officials. Our goal is to give stories about constituents to all of Massachusetts’ 200 state legislators.

To enhance our storytelling work, we are asking for your help. Do you know parents who are willing to share their stories about finding affordable, high-quality child care? If you do, please contact us! We are currently collaborating with advocates and researchers to collect and publish these stories. So email any parent story tips to eyeonearlyeducation@gmail.com. Continue Reading »

Happy Holidays!

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

Enjoy the winter break! The blog will be back in January, 2020!

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