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Archive for the ‘Dept. of Early Education and Care’ Category

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

 

The Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program is getting a makeover. The program’s scholarships help early childhood and after-school educators earn college degrees – either an associate or a bachelor’s.

The scholarship launched 10 years ago. It was added to the Massachusetts state budget thanks to the efforts of legislative leaders and advocates, including Strategies for Children. At the time, data showed that only 30 percent of center-based early educators held a BA or higher degree.

The scholarship is greatly appreciated by teachers. As Jennie Antunes, an early educator and scholarship recipient from New Bedford, told us:

“Even though I had been doing this work for so long, there was so much more I wanted to learn to strengthen my teaching. I take great pride in my accomplishments, proving to myself that I could work full time as well as attend school full time.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Why does the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs care if a child eats an apple?

Because the alliance is trying to change the world. Instead of couches and chips, the alliance is working to expose children to more fresh food and physical activity.

One goal is to protect kids from obesity and developing obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

But this effort may well do a lot more. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out, healthier students are better learners. Better learners are more likely to graduate from high school. And “Better-educated individuals live longer, healthier lives than those with less education, and their children are more likely to thrive,” according to a policy brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In other words, kids who habitually eat apples and ride bikes could be laying a foundation for decades of success – for themselves and their descendants.

What’s the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCA’s doing with this information?

Bringing it to the preschool arena. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

“We know from human history and the latest learning science that success comes from the combination of academic knowledge and the ability to work with others. We need public education to reflect this broader definition of success, and this commission is well positioned to point the way.”
– Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute

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From pre-K to 12th grade, having strong social and emotional learning (SEL) skills — such as listening, working well with others, and delaying gratification — is a crucial ingredient for long-term success.

To provide more information and leadership, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has launched a new webpage called Social and Emotional Learning in Massachusetts. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Early education policies are all over the map — literally and figuratively. While some states are making big investments in very young children, others lag behind.

How are specific states doing? The Ounce of Prevention Fund, a national advocacy organization, takes a look in its August 2016 State Policy Update. It’s a “mini-update” that “provides a snapshot of early childhood care and education budget and policy changes in states during the 2016 legislative sessions as of July 2016.”

This year, “numerous states across the country made major policy changes and investments that advanced access to high-quality early learning programs,” The Ounce says, pointing to:

• Rhode Island, where “codified key elements of the state’s home visiting system” became law “through the passage of The Rhode Island Family Home Visiting Act. The state’s Department of Health is required to work with other state agencies to identify vulnerable families and offer them the opportunity to enroll in evidence-based home visiting programs.”

• In Nebraska, tax credits abound. “The School Readiness Tax Credit Act will create two new state tax credits… for early childhood programs and individual early childhood professionals in 2017.” (more…)

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Building State P-3 Systems

 

How can states build strong P-3 systems — the educational pipelines that start before birth and carry babies through to the third grade?

David Jacobson, a senior project director at the Education Development Center, tackles this question in a new report — “Building State P–3 Systems: Learning from Leading States” — that was recently released by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO).

The report looks at the P-3 (prenatal to third grade) work being done in “three case study states,” Massachusetts, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, which “were chosen based on their experience implementing P–3 state policies and developing significant grant programs to fund regional and local P–3 partnerships.”

“I think the biggest overall take-away is that there is a great deal states can do to improve quality and provide continuity for children throughout the first 8-9 years of children’s lives,” Jacobson told us in an email. “We are learning how to go about this through the lessons provided by these leading states.” (more…)

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By guest blogger Titus DosRemedios

A child’s transition to kindergarten is an important educational milestone. Making that transition a success requires a team effort from teachers, principals, community partners, and families.

One inspiring example of such a team effort took place on August 4, 2016, at the Buttonwood Park Zoo where the New Bedford Public Schools in partnership with P.A.C.E. Inc. held a “Smooth Sailing into Kindergarten” event for entering kindergarten students and their families. The event was designed so that children could meet their new teachers and principals, and so that families could learn more about their child’s school and other resources available in the community.

Sunshine, fun activities, and a welcoming atmosphere helped make this event compelling and fun. The Standard-Times reports, “At the zoo, the children enjoyed various activities the principals and teachers set up, among them bubble-blowing, photo-taking, a train ride and a guest-reader appearance by author Laura Vaughn.”

To highlight the event and create lasting memories each student received a family portrait from Lifetouch, marking their journey into the New Bedford Public Schools. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

There isn’t a lot of new state funding for early education and care for fiscal year 2017, but Massachusetts is holding steady, keeping existing funds flowing to provide high-quality learning experiences for young children.

Last week, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced “$42 million in grant awards” for a number of initiatives to “support the quality and availability of early education and care programs” across the Commonwealth.

“High-quality early education and care programs provide children with a strong foundation for learning, academic success, and positive outcomes overall,” Baker said in a press release.

“We thank our early education providers and agency partners who work hard every day to provide our youngest learners with the tools they need to succeed in school and life,” Polito added. (more…)

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