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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

This week, we’re focusing on the early education and care workforce.

Massachusetts readers, please join us at the upcoming rally on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. It’s State House Advocacy Day for early education and after- school programs. This event starts at 10:30 a.m. on the front steps of the State House.

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How bad is the workforce crisis in early education?

Imagine if the Patriots only had three players: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Malcolm Mitchell. They would work hard because that’s who they are. But instead of playing to win, they’d have to focus on making do.

This kind of limited roster is increasingly a challenge for preschool programs because the field’s low salaries are making it extremely tough to hire and keep staff.

One example from Western Massachusetts: Continue Reading »

“As Boston officials seek to create a universal pre-kindergarten system, they must take into account a host of considerations, and one of the key questions is defining the very recipe for high quality.

“Are schools with hundreds of students up to eighth grade appropriate for 4-year-olds? How will the nurturing environment of small child care centers be reproduced in classrooms with nearly two dozen students? What will be the financial impact on private providers if a big source of revenue is taken? Will going to a private preschool keep families from getting into their favorite public kindergarten class?”

“City officials say the goal is to create a public/private system that would guarantee a free, full day of learning, allow community organizations to maintain their individuality, and have an agreed-upon set of standards for what constitutes a high-quality pre-K education.”

“Early education experts say other ingredients to consider include class and facility size, location, the relationship between teachers and administrators, and culture and language.”

“Boston pre-K programs that make the grade,” by Akilah Johnson, The Boston Globe, March 10, 2017

Here at Strategies for Children (SFC), we have a history of working with great interns. They are college or graduate students who come to us with energy, passion, and creativity. They expand our reach and teach us to see new things. One of our most “famous” interns is Laura Healey, who joined our staff as the research and field associate.

Currently, we have three interns who we’re happy to introduce: Abbie Cyr, Nicolette Forsey, and Kathryn Zimmerman. Here’s a little more about each of them.

Abbie Cyr

“I’m a first-year MSW student at the Smith College School for Social Work. During my time at SFC, I have primarily worked with the City of Cambridge, where education officials are increasing equity in access to the city-run preschool programs. I am excited to learn more about the policy considerations that affect children and families’ access to early education — and how to enhance that access. I’m also excited to be working with my hometown of Cambridge in doing so!”  Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The Trump administration has released its budget proposal, and there’s mixed news for education: some budget cuts and some budget increases. So far, there is no word on budget proposals for Head Start and other early childhood programs.

As the National Women’s Law Center explained in an email, Trump has released a “skinny budget” that lists some details about “spending priorities” including “very deep cuts to non-defense discretionary programs while increasing defense spending by $54 billion.” The center analyzes the budget’s impact on families here.

But bear in mind that Trump’s budget is only a proposal. Congress will be hammering out its own budget for the nation.

For now, however, here’s what we know about Trump’s budget. Continue Reading »

This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Kristen Allen, and I am a preschool teacher at the Goddard School in Bellingham. I have been in the field since 1985, when my work-study job at UMASS/Boston was in the campus child care center. At the time, I was studying geography, and I hoped to teach high school environmental science and spend my summers leading canoe trips. After that first exposure to toddlers, though, I was hooked!

I have worked in almost every aspect of the field — in classrooms; running my own licensed family child care program when my children were young; training women to operate their own licensed family child care businesses; managing a home-visiting program for young mothers; providing mentoring, coaching, and training to early childhood professionals at workshops and conferences nationwide; coordinating USDA child and adult care food programs; and working on early childhood policy issues. Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

How can early learning programs best serve the children of immigrant parents who are worried about being deported?

The advocacy organization Early Edge California has some answers.

“Currently we are hearing that some families are not attending early learning programs out of concern of deportation, so we are working at the state level on information that can guide local policies and practices,” Early Edge says on its website.

These resources include:

• a U.S. Department of Education fact sheet about safe spaces such as schools and churches where immigration actions may not occur

• a guide for educators and school support staff released by the American Federation of Teachers and other organizations to help those “who teach, mentor and help open the doors of opportunity for undocumented youth and unaccompanied and refugee children currently living in the United States”

• another U.S. Department of Education publication explains how early learning programs and elementary schools can support immigrant families

The need for this awareness is substantial.  Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

These days, local communities are leading the way in early childhood. We’ve highlighted some of these local efforts on our blog both here and here.

Now a new national report looks at three different local efforts, successful early childhood programs that are solidly rooted in their communities in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Durham, North Carolina; and throughout Oregon.

The report – “Building our Future: Supporting Community-Based Early Childhood Initiatives” – springs from a meeting that was held last year by Child Trends, with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

At the meeting, 150 participants — from community organizations, research organizations, government, and philanthropy — learned about “community-based early childhood initiatives and what is needed to sustain and spread early childhood initiatives in other communities.”

As the report explains:

Tulsa, Oklahoma was featured because of its use of Educare and other health and family support services to support young children and their families across the city.” Continue Reading »

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