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Photo: Greater Lawrence Community Action Council’s Facebook page

Monday at the State House was Advocacy Day for early education and care and school-age programs. The message for this year was best summarized in a hashtag: #ValueEarlyEducators.

“About 200 early education supporters rallied outside the State House Monday, thanking lawmakers for their efforts to boost the salaries of early educators but urging them to do more to help young learners and workers whose wages place them on the edge of poverty,” according to the State House News Service.

The event was organized by MADCA, the Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care, along with the Put MA Kids First coalition. Continue Reading »

A Lectio Institute. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

We’re excited to share news from our former Strategies for Children colleague Kelly Kulsrud.

As we blogged last year, Kelly left Strategies to become a co-founder and executive director of Lectio, an organization that maximizes the impact of literacy programs for children by helping stakeholders design more effective literacy programs. Now, Lectio is planning to celebrate its work and call for more progress.

Since last year, Lectio has been tackling a key problem. As its website explains:

“Despite great promise and tireless efforts, most children’s literacy programs, instruction, and services produce only negligible effects.”

The solution: Lectio runs institutes to help literacy programs assess their impact.

“We guide stakeholders through a comprehensive analysis of their literacy programs and services, focusing on their goals, design, desired outcomes, and resource allocation.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The blog will be back next week.

“A new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, investigates how pre-K affects kids’ access to healthcare. The results suggest that universal pre-K programs are improving the odds that kids who need treatment for vision, hearing, or asthma issues get the help they need.”

“For example, the fact that the group of kids is 1% more likely to get hearing treatment overall means that hearing-impaired kids are actually 63% more likely to get treatment. For vision-impaired kids, the bump is 45%.”

“So why is pre-K changing health outcomes? The researchers suggest that putting kids in pre-K simply creates more opportunities for their health problems to get noticed, since early-childhood teachers are often trained to spot them.”

“Universal pre-K improves kids’ health in a hidden, powerful way, according to a new study,” Business Insider, April 12, 2017

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

More than 120 early education professionals and experts have signed an open letter that urges state lawmakers to increase their investment in early education.

“As Massachusetts legislators consider the state budget and investments in early education, we would like to highlight the widespread agreement among experts and researchers in the field about the effectiveness of such investments,” the letter says.

It goes on to point out that while: “Quality early childhood education can reduce the achievement gap.”

And: “Investing in quality early childhood education pays off.”

It is also unfortunately true that: “There are a number of pressing problems that undermine early education in Massachusetts.”

Among those who have signed the letter are professionals and experts we’ve blogged about before, including Anne Douglass of the University of Massachusetts Boston; preschool teacher Teddy Kokoros; and Jack Shonkoff of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.  Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Vermont is pressing ahead on its preschool plans.

Back in 2014, then-Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill into a law that offered 10 hours a week of high-quality preschool programs to the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds. By 2016, more and more programs were up and running.

Now, Vermont is in its first year of fully implementing universal pre-K statewide.

As Vermont Public Radio (VPR) explains, “All of Vermont’s 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds who are not attending kindergarten are eligible to participate in Universal Pre-K, but it’s not required.”

The VPR report adds:

“Under Act 166, the state pays a set tuition to schools such as Wee Explorers to provide 10 hours of preschool a week, for the 35-week school year. This year the tuition is just under $3,100 per student. In total, the state is spending about $13.7 million on Pre-K tuition this year. That accounts for payments made to private preschools as well as payments to public preschools for out-of-district students who attend a preschool program run by a school district.”

“Basically, it works like a voucher program for preschool. Families can choose to send their child to pre-K at their local public school, if it’s offered. Or they can pick a private program that is ‘pre-qualified’ or, in other words, endorsed by the state.”

How’s it going? Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Today, the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means released its state budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. The $40.3 billion budget represents a 3.8 percent increase over current year spending.

For early education and care, the House provides $10 million more than Governor Baker did in the proposal he released in January. House funding includes a $15 million rate increase to help address the workforce crisis in early education and care. Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey highlighted this increase in his letter to House members:

“Under the leadership of Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, the House Ways and Means budget prioritizes funding for early education and care with a focus on quality. The budget proposes a $15 million rate reserve for early educators. The rate reserve combined with other investments in the early education accounts will help to raise salaries and allow providers to recruit and retain high quality staff. This new funding ensures that Massachusetts’s youngest residents are receiving the best possible care during these highly formative years.”

The House proposal also provides $2.5 million for early childhood mental health supports and $700,000 for Reach Out and Read, which was not funded in the governor’s budget.

The Boston Globe covers the budget here.

Visit our website for more budget details.

House members have until Thursday, April 13, 2017, at 5 p.m. to file budget amendments, which will be debated the week of April 24th. Stay tuned for updates.

A reminder: Early Education Advocacy Day at the State House will be on April 24th, 2017, 10:30 a.m. Go to the Put MA Kids First coalition website for details.

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