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Archive for the ‘Cost and affordability’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

What should President-elect Trump know about early education?

Overhauling the country’s early childhood system will take hard work and a significant investment of funds – but it will be worth it.

That’s the message in a memo released last month by the think tank Brookings. The memo – “Building a cohesive, high-quality early childhood system” — is part of a series called “Memos to the President on the Future of Education Policy.” It was written by Daphna Bassok, Katherine Magnuson, and Christina Weiland.

The next president, the memo says, “must lead the way by (1) ensuring low-income and middle class families are not forced to make decisions between high-quality and affordable care, (2) supporting efforts to transform the early childhood workforce, and (3) building cohesion within a highly fragmented system.”

Among the memo’s recommendations: (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Massachusetts parents face a big-ticket item: child care.

The Boston Globe recently looked at this challenge in its series “The Cutting Edge of the Common Good.”

“About 70,000 babies will be born in Massachusetts next year. Their parents are probably already fretting about how to pay for college. But finding affordable child care over the next four years will prove far more daunting and — for far too many — more expensive,” the Globe writes.

“The Commonwealth has the most expensive child care in the country. Parents of infants pay, on average, about $17,000 a year for a spot at a day-care center — in other words, $6,000 more than in-state college tuition, according to a new report by the advocacy group Child Care Aware. For single parents, this represents 61 percent of their income.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

A new study from the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy has found that “North Carolina’s investment in early child care and education programs resulted in higher test scores, less grade retention and fewer special education placements through fifth grade,” according to a Duke University news release.

The study looked at the children who attended the state’s two flagship early childhood programs, Smart Start and More at Four, between 1988 and 2000. Researchers also examined the entire population of children “more than 1 million North Carolina public school students born between 1988 and 2000,” which allowed them to estimate “spillover effects” of the early childhood programs onto the child population at-large (more on “spillover effects” below).

One research query was whether the programs “provided long-lasting benefits for children, or if previously seen positive results diminished by the end of elementary school.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) had just released a report on child care — “Red Light Green Light: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2016” — that paints a picture of parents struggling to find affordable, appealing options for their children.

What families and the economy need is high-quality, reasonably priced child care that enables parents to work without worrying and that enrolls children in programs that are engaging and enriching.

Instead, the NWLC report describes a patchwork of child care policies and parents who don’t have enough help paying for high child care bills.

“The average fee for full-time care ranges from nearly $3,700 to over $17,000 a year, depending on the age of the child, the type of care, and where the family lives,” the report says.

“The implications are serious,” NWLC Co-President Nancy Duff Campbell explains in a press release. “Too many parents are forced to patch together makeshift arrangements for their children. Too many children are denied the high-quality child care they need to put them on a path to success. It’s past time to bring the country’s policies in line with the reality of American women’s lives and make high-quality child care accessible and affordable.” (more…)

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Mayor Marty Walsh. Photo: City of Boston Mayor's Office Flickr page

Mayor Marty Walsh. Source: City of Boston Mayor’s Office Flickr page

“The impact of prekindergarten on a student’s education is undeniable. It has a major impact on academic, social, and emotional development. BPS data shows that children who go to K1 outperform their peers in subsequent years—regardless of race or poverty. Research also shows us that early children programs with trained teachers, as well as smaller teacher-to-student ratios, result in higher MCAS achievement. On a broader scale, pre-kindergarten has led to improved behavior, both inside and outside the classroom, as well as the prevention of illegal and criminal behavior and success in the overall labor market and economy.

“We know families face challenges in sending their children to pre-kindergarten, whether it being an affordability, quality, or accessibility issue. That’s why we formed the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Advisory Committee. They are taking a close look on strategies to increase access to full-day pre-kindergarten, with a certified teacher, in a Boston Public School or community-based program.”

“Mayor Walsh: The Importance of Early Education,” by Mayor Martin Walsh, Jamaica Plain News, September 22, 2016

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Average cost of child care across the states. Screenshot: New America's website

Average cost of child care across the states. Image: New America’s website

What’s the state of child care in today’s America, which is no longer the land of the “Leave it to Beaver” breadwinner-homemaker family?

To find out, the newly released Care Report and the accompanying Care Index look at all 50 states and the district of Columbia to assess three categories: cost, quality, and availability.

The bad news: “no single state does well in all three categories. Instead, families, providers, and policymakers in every state make difficult compromises that often shape family decisions and can determine the course of children’s futures.”

That’s a problem in today’s America where “in a majority of families with children under 18, all parents work for pay outside the home. That means, on any given day, about 12 million children under the age of five will need a safe place to go and someone loving to care for them.”

The report and the index were produced by the think tank New America and by Care.com, the website that links families to care providers, in conjunction with other organizations. (more…)

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Image: Taly Foundation website

 

Launched last year in Framingham, Mass., the Taly Foundation is a new philanthropic effort that’s devoted to early education. The foundation got its start when two parents faced the stark reality of how much money matters, even in pre-K.

Up until Jill Dixon and her husband Phil began looking for preschool programs for their own children, they “had been blissfully unaware of the complexities associated with early childhood education and access to a quality preschool program,” Jill Dixon told us in a recent interview.

Once they began to look, the Dixons learned what for them were “new concepts” such as lottery systems and lack of slots for children — the same scarcity that new crops of parents discover every year as they consider preschool options.

After the Dixons enrolled their son in a local, public preschool, “it dawned on us that it was so expensive that there may be a time when parents are unable to afford that for their children even though they may want to for their child.”

“So we asked the director, ‘is there ever a time when families can’t afford to put their children in preschool?’ And she said, ‘Oh yeah, honey, every year for the 28 years that I’ve been here.’  (more…)

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