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“How can we all speak up on behalf of our county’s youngest residents? By using the power of our voice to create real and lasting change.

“Advocating for policy change can be big or small. For example, you can urge your government to invest more in schools. You can petition your school committee to adopt a health curriculum that has been proven to make a significant difference in outcomes, or you can mobilize residents to speak out on a critical community issue in person, via phone or online.

“Berkshire United Way would like you to join us in advocating for universal pre-kindergarten for our children. According to Nobel Prize winner Dr. James Heckman, ‘The basic skills needed for success are formed before children enter school. Investing early helps to prevent the achievement gap, and investing in our most disadvantaged children provides the greatest returns.’”

“Live United: Advocating for early childhood education,” by Kristine Hazzard, president and CEO of Berkshire United Way, the Berkshire Eagle, June 5, 2018

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

High quality early education programs can boost children’s health. But to do so, these programs need to build partnerships with health care providers.

To explore this idea, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held a workshop last year called “Exploring Early Childhood Care and Education Levers to Improve Population Health.” And last month, the National Academies released a report on the workshop.

“By weaving health promotion, preventive care, health literacy, and health care coordination into early care and education environments and making it easier for both health care providers and early care and education providers to coordinate and cooperate through policy levers, we can change the health status of entire geographies of children,” the report says, summing up the ideas of Debbie Chang, a member of the workshop’s planning committee and the Senior Vice President of Policy and Prevention at Nemours Children’s Health System. Continue Reading »

 

This past Sunday at Lowell High School, 11 Congressional candidates shared a crowded stage at the Kathy Reticker Forum for Children and Families and shared their ideas on family policy.

“We’re asking these candidates today how they’re going to support our most important national asset. Where are they going to put their support?” Pat Nelson, the executive director of the Concord Children’s Center, said at the event. “Will they put it where it’s needed most, where we know it leads to early success, in prenatal care and kindergarten?”

“We know the battle for funding for children is a hard-fought battle, and we want to know how you are going to fight it.” Continue Reading »

Photo source: UMass Boston press release.

 

“A record number of people—more than 100—attended the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation‘s fifth annual Leadership Forum on Early Education Research, Policy, and Practice on Saturday, May 19.

“The day celebrated graduates of the leadership institute’s early educator leadership programs, provided a platform for ECE practitioners to discuss leadership for change and innovation in the field, and facilitated dialogue about advancing leadership pathways in early education and care in Massachusetts.

Executive Director Anne Douglass noted in her welcoming remarks that ECE providers have historically been overlooked when it comes to driving change in the field despite the fact that they are the experts who do the work every day.

“ ‘Too often early childhood educators are thought of as objects of change, rather than change agents,” said Douglass.’ ”

“ ‘How do we build a movement around our leadership?’ Douglass asked the crowd. ‘The people who are going to fix this problem are in this room.’ ”

“Leadership Forum Draws Record Participation, Spurs Conversations About Early Care and Education,” University of Massachusetts Boston, May 23, 2018

Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Photo source: Mayor Emanuel’s Instagram page.

 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has a new preschool plan “to make free full-day preschool available to all Chicago 4-year-olds within four years,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

Chicago joins New York and other cities in pressing forward.

“Early education is a necessity for every child, not a luxury for some children,” Emanuel said in a press release. “Universal full-day pre-kindergarten ensures that every child in Chicago, regardless of their family’s resources, gets the great start that all children deserve.”

Emanuel says the program will close the achievement gap and have a generational impact on the city, helping children grow into better educated citizens.

The first step: Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On Monday, the Massachusetts Legislature announced the six conference committee members who will negotiate differences between House and Senate proposals for the fiscal year 2019 state budget.

Budget Conference Committee:

House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez
Representative Stephen Kulik
Representative Todd Smola

Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka
Senator Joan Lovely
Senator Vinny deMacedo

Now is the time for advocacy! Please take a moment to ask the conference committee to invest in early educators.

Millions of dollars are at stake in this year’s budget, including $28.5 million for the early education and care workforce. Please take action to ensure the maximum possible investment in the commonwealth’s young children, families, and early educators. Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Childern

 

“Massachusetts Early Education and Out-of-School Time Leaders Celebrate Passage of Critical Funding to Benefit Low-Income Children: Housing Bond Bill signed today by Governor Baker includes reauthorization of successful capital fund for early education facilities construction and renovation”

“The Commonwealth needs an improved and expanded supply of facilities to meet the demands of families across the state who are looking for convenient, high-quality centers for their children,” said Michael K. Durkin, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

Chris Martes, CEO and President of Strategies for Children added, “What a great day for children, families and programs across the Commonwealth. Facilities are a critical – and often overlooked – element to quality early education and afterschool centers. We have seen such dramatic results and positive outcomes for children from the Early Education and Out-of-School Time Capital Fund know that there is a long list of programs that could use funding.”

Bill Eddy, Executive Director of MADCA, the MA Association for Early Education and Care which represents early education and school age providers who serve low income families across the state, said, “This is an exciting renewal of the Early Education and Out of School Time Facilities Fund with $45m over the next five years to continue to improve the facilities and playgrounds where our youngest children are educated and cared for every day. These facility improvement funds create state-of-the-art spaces designed for young children and allow providers to expand facilities creating additional access to early education for low income children and their families, which also expands our workforce by creating new teaching positions. We are grateful that the Legislature included this once again and we applaud Governor Baker for signing this comprehensive bill with this Early Education Facilities Fund included.”

“EEOST is unique in the country for providing a large-scale public source of funding for facilities,” noted Theresa Jordan, Director of Children’s Facilities Finance for the Children’s Investment Fund. “The reauthorization of an additional five years places Massachusetts further ahead as a national leader in the provision of high-quality early education and care.”

United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley news release, May 31, 2018

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