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“ ‘It was clear that the PEG program did what it was designed to do — support 48 of the highest quality preschool classrooms in the state,’ said Amy O’Leary, director of the Early Education for All Campaign for Strategies for Children.

“The grant supported educator compensation and professional development, comprehensive services and family engagement, and full-day/full-year programming for children from very low-income families, O’Leary said.

“ ‘We are all familiar with national research on the benefits of high-quality early education and only a handful of local evaluations have been conducted in this state,’ O’Leary said. ‘The PEG evaluation is the most comprehensive and most promising. It sheds light on how to continue to build high-quality preschool programming here in Massachusetts.’ ”

 

“Study finds success in Springfield preschool program,” by Carolyn Robbins, MassLive.com, August 15, 2019

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Congress is on summer recess.

Which means that many U.S. senators and representatives are back in their districts – making right now a great time for advocacy.

What can you do? The Ounce and the First Five Years Fund have collected some good ideas in a toolkit and related state fact sheets.

“As Congressional delegates return to their home states, we encourage you to capitalize on this opportunity to highlight the great work happening in your state around early childhood programs by inviting your federal legislators to visit local early learning programs,” an email from National Policy Team at the Ounce says.

One way to start: Thank members of Congress for their bipartisan support of early education and care, then encourage them to do more.

Congress has already:

• made a historic, $2.37 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program in fiscal year 2018

• increased funding for Head Start and Early Head Start as well as for IDEA Preschool Grants, which support children with disabilities, and

• created the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five program which gives states funds to assess their preschool needs and improve their early learning systems (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Even though its federally funded Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) has run out, Springfield, Mass., is continuing to grow its preschool program.

“We win or lose the game at the preschool level,” Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Warwick said when his city won the federal grant.

The PEG grant supported 195 children in 11 classrooms through a mixed-delivery system that included the nonprofit organizations Square One, Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield Head Start, and the YMCA of Greater Springfield.

Now, building on the catalyst of PEG grant funding, Warwick is ensuring that young children will keep winning.

“After a successful pilot program last year,” MassLive.com reports, “Warwick said the preschool programming will be extended to include 19 schools for a total of 643 seats, representing a district investment of more than $1.5 million.”

“Research shows that high-quality preschool provides a substantial head start for young students,” Warwick says in the article.

For children, the payoff is huge: (more…)

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Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

How bad are high child care costs?

Even though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says families should only spend 7 percent of their income on child care, it turns out that working families with children younger than age 5 are spending on average nearly 10 percent of their income.

That’s one of the troubling findings in a new issue brief – “Working Families Are Spending Big Money on Child Care” — from the Center for American Progress.

Without affordable child care, it’s harder for parents to go to work and harder in turn for them to earn the middle-class salaries that can provide families with long-term stability. This is a particularly tough challenge in Massachusetts where the Coalition for Social Justice – which Strategies for Children is a member of — is campaigning for affordable child care.

“Absent large-scale policy action on this issue,” the brief says, “young adults have reported child care expenses as the top reason they are having fewer children than they would like. In fact, in 2018, the U.S. fertility rate fell to a record low for the third straight year, falling below the replacement rate needed to keep the population constant from one generation to the next.” (more…)

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Congresswoman Lori Trahan; Pat Nelson, Executive Director of the Concord Children’s Center; Amy O’Leary, Early Education for All Campaign Director at Strategies for Children. Photo: Eric Stein

 

“I was honored to speak briefly at the Kathy Reticker Forum’s screening of No Small MatterThe film addressed the question ‘Why, when the importance of quality early care is so widely accepted and known, do we continue to fail so many children?’

“It is an important question to ask. Our children are America’s most valuable resource, yet across our country, too many families don’t have access to high-quality, affordable early learning and care that will help them thrive without breaking the bank. Programs like Head Start and grants like Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG) are investments that bring real and positive results to our communities. That’s why I fight hard in Congress to support and grown them. These programs have a proven track record of success in Massachusetts and around the country, and are exactly the type of investments our federal government should be making when it comes to the children and families that are most in need.

“I’m also proud to be working on a number of other pieces of legislation like the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, which dramatically expands access to quality, affordable child care for all families. Congress can and must make progress on this important issue. There’s work to be done.”

 

– U.S. Representative Lori Trahan (D-MA 3rd District)

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Photo: Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Twitter page

 

Imagine a preschool teacher who has the entire community on speed dial.

This preschool teacher could consult with local education professors, public school teachers, or a local librarian.

All these contacts would help the preschool teacher grow professionally and become more effective in the classroom.

If this sounds like a powerful idea, then check out the Improving Teacher Quality-Early Learning Toolkit. It’s a blueprint developed by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) that explains how higher education, public education, community partners, and early educators can all collaborate to improve outcomes for young children. (more…)

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Photo Source: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Instagram page.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) was in town this morning at Tufts University to talk about early education. Joining Speaker Pelosi were members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation – Congresswomen Katherine Clark, Ayanna Pressley, and Lori Trahan.

To watch a recap, go to the Tisch College Facebook page. The event was hosted by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, which is based at Tufts.

The Twitter hashtag is #speakerinthehouse.

Speaker Pelosi offered the following remarks in support of children, families, and educators:

“Everything that we do has to be about the children and their future.”

“When people want to run for office… I always say ‘know your why.’ If you know your why, you’ll know your what, and you’ll know how to get things done because you’ll know your purpose. My why has always been the 1 in 5 children in America who lives in poverty.”

“When people ask me what the three most important issues facing the Congress are, I always say the same thing: our children, our children, our children. Their health, their education, the economic security of their families, a safe healthy environment where they can thrive, and a world at peace where they can reach their fulfillment.”

“Child care – children learning, parents earning, it’s all central to their well-being.”

“I congratulate Tufts for what is happening here at Elliot Pearson. It’s just remarkable.”  Tufts’ Eliot-Pearson Children’s School is a laboratory school that focuses on practice and research. 

Pelosi’s appearance is part of her “ ‘Speaker in the House’ series, which seeks to engage communities across the country and ensure the voices of the American people are being heard in the halls of Congress,” according to Tisch College’s website.

MassLive.com covers the event here.

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