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“Sen. Sal DiDomenico recently testified before the Joint Committee on Education in support of his bill, S.265, An Act ensuring high-quality pre-kindergarten education. This legislation would expand preschool, using grants from the state, beginning with high-needs communities that are ready with a state-approved expansion plan.

“ ‘Across Massachusetts, people are ready for more preschool,’ said DiDomenico in his testimony before the Committee. ‘I have heard from countless parents who want this learning opportunity for their children, but often can’t afford it or are on waiting lists. Local communities, led by community-based programs, school districts, and mayors, have solid plans for preschool expansion and are waiting for new public dollars to begin implementation. That is why I filed this legislation, and I am confident this bill is an important next step towards improving and expanding high quality early education for our kids.’ ”

 

“DiDomenico Urges Action on High Quality Pre-K,” by Record Staff, Chelsea Record, July 18, 2019

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

“In 2017, Raya Kirby of North Adams discussed the difficulty of affording care for her newborn while working as a master’s level clinical social worker. Raya had to return to work 12 weeks after giving birth in order to support her family, but this was difficult given that the cost of childcare was ‘astronomical’ and there was a long waitlist for child care vouchers.”

Jill Ashton shared this story a few weeks ago at the State House hearing on early education and care.  Ashton is the executive director of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, an independent state agency that gathers information on women and makes policy recommendations.

Two other stories that Ashton shared at the hearing are:

“In 2018, Ana Saravia of Barnstable spoke to the Commission about her struggle in trying to afford childcare as a single mother of four children, one of whom is autistic. She was forced to relocate due to financial constraints, which were compounded by the high costs of childcare.”

And: Continue Reading »

 

“I am all butterflies. Every part of my body is shaking,” Jean Fahey said when she found out she had won the Early Childhood Book Challenge sponsored by OpenIDEO and the Philadelphia-based William Penn Foundation.

OpenIDEO “is part of IDEO, a global design and innovation consultancy” that encourages people to tackle a wide range of social problems.

The Early Childhood Book Challenge asked for creative manuscripts that would “inspire children and their caregivers to read together.”

Specifically, the manuscripts had to:

• “Excite and educate caregivers about the opportunities and importance of reading, singing or talking together”

• support early language development by engaging “young children in their earliest years,” and

• “Reflect the lived experience of families living in urban contexts in the U.S., in communities like Philadelphia”

In response, people from five continents submitted more than 500 manuscripts. Continue Reading »

Brenda Casselius, the former Commissioner of Education for Minnesota and the newly named Superintendent of Boston Public Schools (BPS), welcomed the crowd and emphasized the importance of focusing not only on four-year-olds enrolled in pre-K but also on the critical first 1,000 days of a young child’s life. Casselius earned enthusiastic applause when she emphasized the importance of providing early education that is hands-on and play-based.

 

“I also had the chance to learn more about the past, present, and future of early education in Boston by attending a session led by Jeri Robinson, a long-time advocate of early learning in Boston and a member of the Boston School Committee, and Rahn Dorsey, Boston’s first Chief of Education. This session was filled with out-of-state attendees interested in learning how to improve and expand their own pre-K programs. Robinson discussed Mayor Marty Walsh’s $15 million investment in his FY20 budget to help guarantee free pre-K for all Boston four-year-olds within five years. The money should allow for the creation of 750 pre-K seats in community-based organizations (CBOs) across the city.”

 

“… Boston continues to serve as a promising example of how to improve the quality of pre-K and the early elementary grades. Its efforts so far offer many lessons and takeaways for other school districts.”

 

“Boston Early Ed Conference Draws Participants From Across the Country,” By Aaron Loewenberg, New America blog post, July 1, 2019

Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

How bad are high child care costs?

Even though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says families should only spend 7 percent of their income on child care, it turns out that working families with children younger than age 5 are spending on average nearly 10 percent of their income.

That’s one of the troubling findings in a new issue brief – “Working Families Are Spending Big Money on Child Care” — from the Center for American Progress.

Without affordable child care, it’s harder for parents to go to work and harder in turn for them to earn the middle-class salaries that can provide families with long-term stability. This is a particularly tough challenge in Massachusetts where the Coalition for Social Justice – which Strategies for Children is a member of — is campaigning for affordable child care.

“Absent large-scale policy action on this issue,” the brief says, “young adults have reported child care expenses as the top reason they are having fewer children than they would like. In fact, in 2018, the U.S. fertility rate fell to a record low for the third straight year, falling below the replacement rate needed to keep the population constant from one generation to the next.” Continue Reading »

Jessica Merrill, Titus DosRemedios, Kelly Savarese, Dawn DiStefano, Nicole Penney, Kim Davenport, Grace Cruz, Efrain Ponce Hamlet, Amy O’Leary, Clifford Kwong, Lisa Van Thiel. Photo courtesy of Kim Davenport.

Last week, there was a standing-room-only hearing at the Massachusetts State House where parents, teachers, and advocates called on elected officials to increase access to high-quality, affordable child care, expand preschool, increase educator salaries, and other priorities.

“Right now many parents struggle to access affordable childcare, and they often choose to stay home to avoid expensive daycare,” WWLP.com reports on the issues covered at the hearing, adding:

“Expanding full-day preschool would give parents the option of going back to work on a part-time or full-time basis.”

The multi-generational impact of having more preschool programs for children that would make it easier for parents to go work would be hugely beneficial for Massachusetts. This could be accomplished by a number of bills that were discussed at the hearing including: Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

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