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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

As the country struggles to cope with the coronavirus, a group of Massachusetts elected officials and their spouses have written a powerful Boston Globe op-ed that calls on Congress to support the child care industry with a bailout.

“COVID-19 has (rightfully) forced the closure of child care centers across Massachusetts. In doing so, it has forced a profound reckoning about the state of the American child care system,” the op-ed says.

The closures, as we’ve blogged, have sown fears and doubts and hard questions that do not yet have answers. And on Wednesday, Governor Baker extended school and non-emergency child care closures to May 4, 2020.

However, the op-ed says:

“One thing is clear: We can no longer afford to approach child care as an economic accessory. We must approach it as the oxygen on which every facet of our recovery will depend.”

The op-ed’s authors are Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and her husband Bruce Mann, a Harvard Law School professor; Representative Joe Kennedy III and his wife Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, the co-founder of Neighborhood Villages; Representative Katherine Clark; and Representative Ayanna Pressley and her husband Conan Harris, the principal of Conan Harris & Associates LLC Consultant Firm.

Exploring the bigger picture, the op-ed adds: (more…)

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“When people ask me why it’s difficult to find high-quality early child care, one of the first things I bring up is how quality is too expensive for most parents. As a result, providers often don’t charge enough and parents don’t pay enough to cover the true cost of quality care.

“If they did, early child care educators would be making more than the poverty-level wages many earn. But most parents would also be pushed out of a child care market that’s already difficult to afford. The result is what we see today: a market that allows substandard early child care and education to proliferate. Just ask the experts who rate the majority of child care as fair.

“In this mostly private market, charging less than what high quality truly costs has been the pathway to increasing access to early child care, but it’s a dead end. Without intervention, the tenuous balance between rate-setting for parents and low wages for workers will continue, pushing down quality and the overall supply of early child care.”

 

“High-quality early child care requires fair teacher pay supported through public investment: Sacrificing quality to increase affordability is not the answer,” by Sarah Ann Savage, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 30, 2020

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Last night, WBUR and Neighborhood Villages hosted “Childcare And The Future Of The American Dream,” a panel discussion featuring:

Nathaniel Hendren, Professor of Economics at Harvard University and Founding Co-Director of Opportunity Insights

Linda Smith, Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Early Childhood Development Initiative, and

Michelle Sanchez, Principal of the Epiphany Early Learning Center (more…)

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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.” (more…)

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Photo: Titus DosRemedios

 

A new early childhood champion is being born: Wednesday, January 1, 2020 will be the official start of One SouthCoast Chamber, a regional chamber of commerce that covers Fall River, New Bedford, and parts of Rhode Island.

And the new organization — which unites the SouthCoast Chamber of New Bedford and the Bristol County Chamber of Fall River — has already announced a key area of focus: early childhood education.

“Over the next few months, business leaders and educators will collaborate to develop a plan to expand high-quality pre-kindergarten and childcare in the region, particularly in Fall River and New Bedford,” a SouthCoast Today article says.

And Brian LeComte, the incoming chairman of the One SouthCoast Chamber board, tells SouthCoast Today:

“The business community wants to have a positive impact on the success of our region and there is no greater success we can champion than early childhood education.” (more…)

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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.” (more…)

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Oregon has scored a huge victory for its children — and set an example that other states should study – by enacting the Student Success Act, which will invest $2 billion in education, with 20 percent ($400 million) allocated for early education.

“…now we can finally invest in an education system to empower every single student on the path to realizing their dreams for the future,” Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in a Tweet.

To finance this investment, Oregon will create a tax “on businesses that bring in at least $1 million in sales each year. They’d pay $250 and a point-five-seven-percent 0.57% tax. According to the Legislative Revenue Office in the capital, less than 10% of Oregon’s 460,000 businesses would pay the tax,” KOBI-TV reports.

This historic work is “the culmination of a legislative process that began more than a year ago when the Joint Committee On Student Success toured the state to learn more about what kids in Oregon need to succeed,” according to the Children’s Institute, a nonprofit organization founded by philanthropists and business community members.

“At every stop along the way, the message was clear: K–12 can’t do it alone. If we want to improve outcomes for Oregon’s students, we must start by supporting the health and development of young children before they reach kindergarten.” (more…)

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