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

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

Across Massachusetts, communities are ready to expand their high-quality preschool programs.

All they need is more state funding.

And with budget season in full swing, now is a great time to ask the Legislature to invest well and wisely in early education and care.

Communities have been waiting for preschool funding for several years. In 2016, “thanks to state-funded planning grants,” 13 Massachusetts communities developed preschool expansion plans, as Titus DosRemedios explains in this Alliance for Early Success blog post. DosRemedios is Strategies for Children’s director of research and policy. He adds:

“The grants piggyback off of Massachusetts’ federal Preschool Expansion Grant, which provides high-quality full-day, full-year preschool to more than 850 four-year-olds annually in five cities.”

Since 2016, the list has grown to 18 communities, thanks to two more rounds of preschool planning grants from the Department of Early Education and Care that were funded in the FY17 and FY18 state budgets. (more…)

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“The Children’s Museum of Greater Fall River and BayCoast Bank organized the Early Childhood Summit, designed to come up with ideas to emphasize the importance of what a child learns before age 5 and to lobby for more money and resources for pre-kindergarten programs.

“ ‘The purpose is to educate our business leaders and our legislative leaders on the importance of early childhood education,’ said Jo-Anne Sbrega, the executive director of the Children’s Museum.”

“Summit emphasizes importance of early childhood education,” by Kevin P. O’Connor, Herald News Staff Reporter, March 15, 2019

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Advocacy Day. Source: The Twitter page of MADCA. The Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care.

 

Yesterday, more than 250 early educators, advocates, and parents came to the Massachusetts State House to meet and to ask their legislators to support early education and care.

“This should be one of our top priorities,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said at the event.

“What you do is of critical importance,” Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) said. The state budget process, Peisch noted, is an enormous competition among worthy causes for a limited pool of resources. “It’s really important that you come in and advocate.”

Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) tweeted: “Amazing turnout of early educators and advocates this AM for Early Education Advocacy Day. Nothing is more important than building resiliency in our youngest children and our #earlyeducators are doing the work every day. Thank you!” A former social worker, Spilka stressed the importance of giving early educators the tools they need to address the effects of trauma in children’s and families’ lives. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Here at Strategies for Children, we want to say thank you to Tom Weber. He has announced that he will step down as commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) in June.

“We are grateful for Tom Weber’s commitment as Commissioner of Early Education and Care. During his six years as commissioner, he led EEC out of its historic fiscal low point, which was caused by the effects of the Great Recession,” Chris Martes, Strategies’ president and CEO, says in a statement.

“Since 2013, Massachusetts has made steady progress on early education, and thanks to Commissioner Weber’s leadership, the early education and care field is in a much stronger position, both fiscally and programmatically. We have seen increased public investments in the early education workforce, in program quality, and in preschool expansion during his tenure. He is a tireless advocate for young children and families, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.” (more…)

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Advocacy Day 2018. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Come to the State House for Advocacy Day on Wednesday, March 13, 2019!

Join early educators, advocates, and parents from across the state who will gather in the Great Hall in the Massachusetts State House.

Last year’s Advocacy Day was great.

This year’s should be even better.

Confirmed speakers to date include: House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop), Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley), Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) and Department of Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber.

Contact your state Senator and Representative now to schedule a meeting for 11 am on Advocacy Day morning.

To find out who your state legislators are, call 1-800-462-VOTE or visit: www.wheredoivotema.com.

And don’t forget to bring artwork from children in your programs!

Share the day on social media using the hashtag #EarlyEdDayMA!

For more information, contact Amy O’Leary at 617-330-7384 or aoleary@earlyeducationforall.org.

And as Speaker DeLeo said during Advocacy Day, 2014, make the rounds at the State House and “Tell your stories.”

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Next month, the Departments of Early Education and Care and Elementary and Secondary Education are sponsoring a free conference called, “Building Inclusive Communities in Early Childhood.”

The conference will be held on Friday, March 15, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (check-in starts at 8:30 a.m.) at the Devens Common Center in Devens, Mass. Click here to register.

“Inclusion in early childhood programs refers to including children with disabilities in early childhood programs, together with their peers without disabilities,” according to a 2015 joint statement from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.

These children often “face significant barriers to accessing inclusive high-quality early childhood programs…” (more…)

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“It’s like getting the band back together,” Pat Haddad (D-Somerset), Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, said of herself and some her colleagues who gathered at the State House on Tuesday for “Looking Back to Look Forward,” a Strategies for Children celebration of the tenth anniversary of An Act Relative to Early Education and Care, which became law in 2008.

Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Haddad

Sponsored by Haddad and Senator Robert Antonioni (D-Leominster) and signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick, the new legislation was a bright step forward. It officially established Massachusetts’ Universal Pre-K (UPK) program, and outlined the responsibilities of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and for its board and commissioner.

“We had to block out some of the people who were naysayers,” Haddad said at the Looking Back event. But now, she explained, more and more legislators understand that building a universal pre-K program is “the right thing to do.”

The Legislature has never been able to fully fund UPK, but it has made progress, investing in scholarships for early educators and leveraging the power of federal preschool grant funds. (more…)

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