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Mayor Marty Walsh helps launch the Child Care Entrepreneur Fund Pilot. Photo: John Wilcox. Source: City of Boston Mayor’s Office Flickr page.

 

What makes child care work?

Mayor Marty Walsh decided to find out by asking the city of Boston.

“In 2019, we added an optional survey to the annual citywide census related to early education and care. We wanted to better understand how families access and experience care for their children ages five and under,” Walsh says in a new report on the results of the survey called, “Making Childcare Work: Results from a Survey on childcare arrangements and challenges.”

“The survey, conducted by the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement, found that more than one-quarter of stay-at-home parents, the vast majority of them women, couldn’t work” because they lacked child care, the Boston Globe reports. “Nearly 60 percent of those parents cited cost as the biggest obstacle. Parents of children under 2 had the hardest time finding available slots.”

The report’s other key findings: (more…)

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Presentation begins at the 10:40 time mark.

 

California has a brand new plan for early childhood education.

It has arrived in the nick of time, with sweeping changes that will benefit children and families, and with lessons for Massachusetts and other states.

“Few would argue that California’s child care system is in need of major reform,” public radio station KQED reports. “Today, a whopping 77% of children statewide lack access to a licensed child care program, and many of those who teach and care for the state’s youngest are making marginally above minimum wage.

“The system is currently ‘at a crisis level,’ according to Michael Olenick, head of the Los Angeles-based Child Care Resource Center. Yet he’s hopeful that things will improve. Olenick just finished participating in a state Assembly blue-ribbon commission, which released a report on Monday suggesting major improvements to the state’s early childhood education system.”

This report, from the Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education, draws on two years of hearings, meetings, and focus groups. (more…)

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Mayor Martin Walsh greets kids on the playground after the Universal Pre-K announcement at ABCD Head Start Walnut Grove. (Mayor’s Office Photo by John Wilcox)

 

Yesterday, at the ABCD Head Start Walnut Grove program in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the City of Boston is investing $15 million to expand access to free, high-quality pre-K.

“ ‘This is a game-changer for the young people of our city,’ Walsh said Tuesday, surrounded by school administrators and representatives from community groups set to partner with the city to fully implement pre-K programming,” the Boston Globe reports.

The funding will support the “Quality Pre-K Fund,” which will guarantee equitable access “for all 4-year-olds living in Boston within five years,” a press release explains.

The Quality Pre-K Fund will “support the creation of 750 high-quality seats in the nationally recognized pre-K programs in Boston Public Schools (BPS) and in community-based organizations, such as ABCD Head Start, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, and many others,” the press release says, adding, “When Mayor Walsh took office, the gap of high-quality pre-K classroom seats stood at 1,500, and over the last six years this number has been cut in half.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

In an increasingly bilingual world, Quinsigamond Community College (QCC) has an innovative program for training multilingual early educators.

For five years, QCC’s Dual Language Program has offered courses that are taught in English and Spanish to family childcare providers. Classes are offered during the day and at night to give students scheduling flexibility.

Connecting family child care providers to higher education is crucial work because these early educators are typically working on their own in their homes — where they may not have easy access to colleagues or to the onsite college classes that some center-based providers offer.

The goal of the dual language program “is to impart early childhood content first in the student’s native language with a gradual increase of English proficiency over the four course sequence,” QCC’s website explains.

According to Charlene Mara, QCC’s Early Childhood Education program manager, “It’s important to remember who the childcare providers are servicing. They are servicing many English-speaking children, so it’s very important to be proficient in English, as well as their native language.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

What if child care were perfect?

It would be fun for kids, high-quality, easy for parents to afford, and readily available.

Child care providers would be highly-skilled and well paid.

And the country would feel the difference as more and more young children thrived.

Perfect is, of course, hard to come by, but Child Care Aware of America is pushing for vast improvements with a new policy agenda, “Igniting Possibilities, Promoting Innovation” — a blueprint that can be used by federal, state, and local leaders. (more…)

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“We cycled through one child care arrangement after another. And every transition sent me into a near-panic. Every time it represented a failure. One night, after I’d put the kids to bed, my 78-year-old Aunt Bee called long-distance from Oklahoma to just see how I was doing. And I said sure, I’m find, I’m doing okay, I’m fine.

“And in the middle of a sentence, I just started to cry. And once I started, I could not stop. I was failing. I was failing my kids. I was failing my family. I was failing my teaching. I was doing laundry at 11 o’clock at night and class preps after midnight. And I felt like I was always behind. And then I said something that shocked me when I said it. I told Aunt Bee I was going to quit my job. My beloved teaching job. It’s like it just fell out of my mouth.

“Aunt Bee’s waiting on the other end long-distance. She waits for me to quit crying, waits for me to blow my nose and get a drink of water. And then she very matter-of-factly said, ‘I can’t get there tomorrow, but I can come on Thursday.’ And she arrived with seven suitcases and a Pekinese named Buddy and stayed for 16 years.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) speaking at the National Women’s Law Center 45th Annual Gala, October 18, 2017

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“We don’t have to talk anymore about the value of early childhood education: everyone agrees it’s critical. We do, however, have to talk about affordability, logistics and policy. With preschool tuition running $10,000-$30,000 per year, the cost of sending one child to preschool can be more than a family’s rent or mortgage. Early childhood education is not just a child development issue, it’s an economic one…”

“To address this issue, the city convened an Early Childhood Task Force in 2014. Its 2015 report articulates the admirable vision that “all children in Cambridge [will] receive high quality early education and care from birth through third grade,” and recommends initial steps toward that goal…”

“To start this process, the council and committee will have a joint roundtable discussion this fall. One of the main tasks of the roundtable should be to set a deadline by which a comprehensive system of early childhood education will be in place. A deadline will force us to answer, sooner rather than later, the questions related to policy, financing, and logistics.

“Some of those questions are: (more…)

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