Archive for the ‘Facilities’ Category

The Boston Strong Tower. Photo: Courtesy of the Boston Public Schools.

The Boston Strong Tower. Photo: Courtesy of the Boston Public Schools.

“Dear Boston Public School Kindergarteners,” Mayor Marty Walsh wrote in a letter last February. Walsh introduced himself and added that as some of Boston’s “youngest and most important residents” the children had the right to share their opinions about the city.

Walsh went on to ask this question: “What suggestions do you have about construction in our city to make Boston a fairer and more interesting place for children?”

It’s easy to focus on how cute this request is, but at the heart of this letter is a meaningful invitation for children to be engaged young citizens.

“This is a big question so take your time in answering it. Talk to your classmates, your teachers, and your family. Do research to get ideas. Write your ideas and please make a model to help me understand your ideas better,” the mayor wrote, encouraging kindergarteners to engage in civic discussions. (more…)

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Photo: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Photo: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

More than 200 people came to the Boston Children’s Museum last Thursday night to attend “Conversation with the Boston Mayoral Candidates – Early Childhood and Education: Closing the Achievement and Opportunity Gaps.”  Strategies for Children, Boston Children’s Museum, Thrive in 5 and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley cosponsored the event along with 31 other organizations.

Both candidates – City Councilor John Connolly and State Representative Marty Walsh — participated, each on stage separately. Candidates answered questions posed by the night’s moderator, WBZ political reporter Jon Keller, and from the audience, which included early educators, providers, pediatricians, college students, professors of higher education, teachers, advocates, and citizens.

As Carolyn Lyons, the president and CEO of Strategies for Children, explained to the audience in her introduction, the forum builds on the momentum that has been fueled by early education proposals from Governor Deval Patrick and other governors,  the Massachusetts legislature and President Obama’s bold proposal to expand preschool programs nationally.

The candidates were asked to come prepared to articulate their vision for Boston’s children and families and discuss what they would do for children and families should they become mayor. They responded by (more…)

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Mayor Logo

This Thursday, October 24, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., the Boston Children’s Museum hosts a Conversation with the Boston Mayoral Candidates. Jon Keller, WBZ-TV News’ Political Analyst will moderate the conversation.

To retain Boston’s status as an economic leader and hub of innovation in the years ahead, the next Mayor must improve educational outcomes for the city’s children. The achievement gap is evident long before children enter school, and we will not succeed in closing it unless we target resources to improve early learning and healthy child development.

Join us for a conversation with the two candidates running for Mayor and hear more about their vision for children and families in Boston.

This event is sponsored by: Boston Children’s Museum, Strategies for Children, Thrive in 5, and United Way of MA Bay and Merrimack Valley.

Co-sponsors to date include:  ABCD ● Associated Early Care and Education ● BOSTnet  ● Boston After School and Beyond ● Boston Association for the Education of Young Children ● Boston Children’s Hospital  ● Boston Opportunity Agenda ● Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester ● Catholic Charities of Boston  ● Cradles to Crayons ● The Children’s Trust ● Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative ● Ellis Memorial & Eldredge House, Inc ● Families First Parenting Programs ● Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts   ● Family Service of Greater Boston ● Friends of the Children – Boston ● Generations Incorporated ● Horizons for Homeless Children ● Jumpstart ● MA Afterschool Partnership ● MA Association for Early Education and Care ● Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics ● MA Kids Count ● MA Head Start Association ● Raising A Reader MA ● Reach Out and Read ● Room to Grow ● United South End Settlements ● Wheelock College

For more information, please contact tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

The Children’s Investment Fund has been shepherding proposed legislation through the State House that would create bond funding to build or improve early childhood education (ECE) and out-of-school time (OST) spaces.

“The MA Legislature recently passed a bill authorizing bond financing for capital improvements,” the Fund said in a recent email. This is money that will go to nonprofit early childhood and afterschool centers. “While we continue working with a coalition of supporters to get the bill through the conference committee, signed and eventually funded, we want to help get projects ready for funding.”

A substantial need

As the Fund says on its website, “space matters: there is substantial research on the importance of the physical environment on children’s social, emotional and cognitive development.”

The need is considerable, as the Fund found in a survey of ECE and OST programs located across the state. A report of this work – “Building an Infrastructure for Quality: An Inventory of Early Childhood Education and Out-of-School Time Facilities in Massachusetts” — sheds light on a host of problems, including ceiling holes, poor air quality, inadequate heating and cooling systems, and inadequate play spaces. An executive summary is available here. To download the full report register here.

We wrote about the Fund’s efforts last year and again this summer in June. (more…)

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Photo: Strategies for Children

Last month, Wheelock College hosted 150 people at the 8th Annual Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care. The theme was, “Raising Our Voices: The Power of Advocacy – The Time for Action is Now!”

Throughout the day, participants asked a common question: How can we get better at telling our story? Good answers came from elected officials, advocates and child care providers.

Advice from Elected Officials

During the morning session a panel of elected officials offered a range of advice for reaching out to government.

“We need people like you to come to the State House,” State Senator Sal N. DiDomenico (D – Everett), said in the conference’s first session.  “A lot of what I do in the State House is a reflection of what you tell me.”

One of the first lessons that Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley learned was “not to be self righteous.” She also called on advocates to tell the moral story about early childhood education and the economic story.

Don’t underestimate the power of aides, Pressley and DiDomenico added.  Talking to elected officials’ staff members and policy directors can have a powerful impact.

“If you’re a little intimidated,” to talk to legislators said State Representative Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke), “Find someone who is not.” And he added, “Invite us to your events.” (more…)

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A rundown gross motor room.  Photo: Children's Investment Fund

A rundown gross motor room. Photo: Children’s Investment Fund

In 2011, a report from the Children’s Investment Fund (CIF) revealed the substandard conditions of some early childhood and out-of-school time buildings and facilities in Massachusetts.

One photograph in the report shows a big hole in the ceiling with dirty pink insulation hanging out. In another photograph a leaky toilet stands on a badly stained concrete floor.  A third photo shows children playing in an empty parking lot.

We wrote about the report — “Building an Infrastructure for Quality: An Inventory of Early Childhood and Out-of-School time Facilities in Massachusetts” – in a blog entry posted here.

According to Marty Cowden, CIF’s associate program manager, one repeated reaction to the report’s worst findings has been “Oh my goodness, I’d never send my child to a place like that.”

For early education and out-of-school time providers the economic reality can be painful. “The poor condition of the facilities is a resource issue, not the result of providers’ lack of understanding or concern. Providers that serve our highest-need children are squeezed financially – subsidy rates and parent fees don’t cover their operating costs, so they have no cash reserves to renovate or build space that truly supports children’s healthy development and learning,” according to Mav Pardee, CIF’s program manager.

Fortunately, there will be State House action on this issue. Hearings will be held tomorrow on (more…)

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The Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care voted to endorse a bond bill that includes $45 million in capital financing for non-profit providers of early education and out-of-school time services to build or renovate facilities. The bill follows the 2011 release of “Building an Infrastructure for Quality,” a report from Children’s Investment Fund, found shortcomings in safety, air quality, indoor space for physical activity and other measures.

Mav Pardee, director of the Children’s Investment Fund, updated the board on the Building Quality Campaign – a partnership comprised of the fund, Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CHAPA), and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. The bond financing for early education and out-of-school-time facilities is included in CHAPA’s $1.2 billion housing and community development bond bill. Representative Jeffrey Sanchez has filed  a separate facilities financing bill with the same language as a placeholder.

The legislation would make financing available to licensed non-profit providers with at least a quarter of their enrollment children from low-income families. Financing would range from 50-80% of total development costs, based on the number of children eligible for subsidies, and would be in the form of permanent deferred loans for a term of 30 years. (See Pardee’s PowerPoint.)

The January 8 meeting was also the last for former Secretary of Education Paul Reville, who has returned to the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Matthew Malone, former superintendent of the Brockton Public Schools, who was sworn in as the state’s new education secretary on January 14. JD Chesloff, chairman of the EEC board, presented Secretary Reville with a certificate of appreciation. Reville thanked the board and the entire early childhood field for what he termed their “inspiring commitment” to the young children of Massachusetts.

Emily Levine, our field and research associate, reports the board also discussed: (more…)

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