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Archive for the ‘Early Learning Challenge’ Category

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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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

A new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center offers key advice to states: Focus on making early childhood systems more efficient and effective.

“This issue is important for two reasons,” the report says. “First, support for early childhood programs can only be sustained if the programs are viewed as effective and efficient in their use of public funds.”

Second, inefficiencies can create “real obstacles to access” for the very children that states want to reach.

“When families have to apply to multiple programs, housed across multiple agencies, often with duplicative paperwork requirements and inconsistent eligibility criteria, many simply give up.”

Improving efficiency is demanding work. States have to manage their own early childhood funds, and they receive child care funding from multiple federal sources including Child Care Development Block Grants, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Each funding stream has its own rules and requirements. (more…)

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“The individual and collective progress of the 20 Early Learning Challenge States is changing the early childhood landscape for the better… It is exciting to watch these states make meaningful improvements as they tackle common and state-specific challenges and share lessons learned.”

Linda Smith, deputy assistant secretary for early childhood development at the Administration for Children and Families, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, in “Early childhood education gets push from $1 billion federal investment,” The Washington Post, August 1, 2016

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

States face a persistent problem: Classrooms full of children who struggle to read.

“Only about one-third of all children attending school in the United States can read proficiently by fourth grade,” the New America foundation explains on its website. “The numbers are even more dismaying for our most vulnerable students. How can state policymakers lessen the achievement gap and improve literacy outcomes for all children?”

To find answers, New America has taken a look at all 50 states’ birth-to-third-grade policies.

The resulting report is a ranking of states called, “From Crawling to Walking: Ranking States on Birth- 3rd Grade Policies that Support Strong Readers.”

“Accompanying the research are interactive maps of state progress displayed via New America’s data visualization and policy analysis tool, Atlas.” This is an easy, graphic way to access findings for individual states. (more…)

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SSIK Cover

By guest blogger Titus DosRemedios

By now, regular readers of this blog are well aware that learning begins at birth and that the process of getting children ready for kindergarten begins long before their first day of school. That’s why New Bedford’s community-based early education programs are collaborating with public school leaders, human services providers, and many other partners to improve kindergarten readiness.

To reinforce the importance of kindergarten readiness throughout the provider community, the New Bedford Birth to Third Alignment Partnership held a kick-off event at Keith Middle School on October 13, offering both an a.m. and p.m. session and drawing more than 50 attendees.

Superintendent Pia Durkin was on hand to reinforce the importance of early childhood from the district’s perspective and to applaud the collaboration happening in the community. “Our motto is ‘We’re building an excellent school system,’ but we know we can’t do it alone,” Durkin told attendees. “We need partners.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Education officials have released the state’s new social-emotional learning (SEL) standards: officially called the “Massachusetts Standards for Preschool and Kindergarten in the Domains of Social and Emotional Learning, and Approaches to Play and Learning.”

It’s a key step toward teaching young children the so-called “soft” skills they need to be successful in school and later in life.

“Children enter early education programs with a vast diversity in experiences, language, culture, development, and ability, creating the widest developmental range of any age group,” the standards say. “Some may have spent extensive time in group settings, others no time at all.” Given these diverse experiences, building social and emotional skills is an essential part of building a cohesive group.

Massachusetts isn’t alone. Educators and advocates across the country have the same goal. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

On Wednesday, September 16th, 2015, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education will hold a hearing for all bills related to early education and care. Among these is “An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education.”

Supported by the “Pre-K for MA” Coalition, which is being led by Strategies for Children (SFC) and Stand for Children Massachusetts, the bill calls on Massachusetts to follow in New Jersey’s footsteps and create high-quality pre-K programs for 3- and 4-year-olds who live in underperforming school districts. The bill was filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett).

We see the bill’s targeted, phased-in approach as getting us closer to our ultimate vision of high-quality early education for children in Massachusetts.

This proposed legislation would build on the recent history of progress in Massachusetts: (more…)

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