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Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker released his state budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 (FY’21).

His proposal increases investments in early education and care, which would make FY’21 the eighth consecutive year of increased investments.

Specifically, the governor’s proposal increases spending in areas including child care access (line items 3000-3060 and 3000-4060); rate increases for early educator salaries (3000-1042); and the new Sliding Fee Scale Reserve to help reduce parent fees for subsidized child care (3000-1043).

MassLive.com reports that the budget includes “a proposed $92.3 million funding boost for early childcare providers and childcare voucher programs.

“Nearly half of the funding increase would go toward childcare vouchers set aside for the Department of Children and Families and subsidized vouchers for families receiving assistance from the Department of Transitional Assistance, according to the Department of Early Education and Care.”

Recent state budget increases are being supported in part by historic federal budget increases for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

Visit our website for a full listing of early education and care line items in the state budget. And visit Mass.gov for more details on the governor’s proposal.

And please join Strategies for Children for an Advocacy 101 webinar on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, where we will discuss Governor Baker’s budget proposal and prepare for Advocacy Day at the State House on Thursday, March 5, 2020. Click here to register for Advocacy 101. 

For more information contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org or (617) 330-7387.

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Massachusetts has received great news.

The state’s federal Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) program “had a powerful impact on children’s early academic skills. The program proved effective for all children on average,” Yahoo Finance reports.

The analysis of the PEG grant was conducted by Abt Associates.

Among Abt’s findings, according to a press release:

“PEG improved children’s readiness for kindergarten by providing:

• a sizable positive impact on children’s early literacy and math skills, and

• a smaller positive impact on vocabulary skills.”

“PEG had an even bigger impact on children from homes where English was not the primary language and for children with no prior formal child care experience,” Education Dive adds. (more…)

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The Ounce has released its 2019 State Policy Update Report.

It’s a “snapshot of states’ early childhood education policy priorities and budgetary changes during the 2019 legislative sessions.”

“We are excited to share highlights from each state that illustrate the persistent work of early childhood advocates, program providers, public officials ,and many other stakeholders who continue to move the field forward in creating environments in which young children and families can thrive,” a report overview says.

This year’s survey digs deep, asking survey respondents to:

• categorize 2019’s legislative, administrative and budgetary changes

• describe any work they did to advance federal policy, and

• identify and share stories about elected officials who are “early childhood champions”

The report also looks at early intervention programs; families’ mental health; workforce and professional development efforts; as well as revenue, governance, and data. (more…)

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Local communities are ready for preschool expansion, but often lack the funds to get started. Absent a clear federal or state path for preschool expansion, innovative local leaders are forging ahead using a variety of collaborative approaches.

Last week, Strategies for Children hosted a webinar on this topic: “Local Preschool Financing Strategies in Massachusetts.” Three communities presented their work, and 15 other communities participated in the webinar.

Here’s a recap of the event and the topics we discussed.

We heard from Holyoke, Springfield, and Boston, all communities that are leading the way on financing more preschool spots for children through a mixed-delivery system.

Presentations were made by: (more…)

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“In June, the city of Memphis, Tennessee, lost funding for 1,000 pre-K slots due to an expiring federal grant.”

“Instead of passively accepting the void in federal leadership, cities such as Memphis are finding innovative ways to bring together the public, private and nonprofit sectors to finance and expand needed services for children, and increasing pressure on local officials to reinvest in child services.”

“Pittsburgh provides a good example of a community that successfully implemented an innovative method to fund youth programming. In 2008, the One Hill Coalition, a diverse group of 100 community groups in the city, brokered a collective-bargaining agreement with the developers of the new Pittsburgh Penguins arena. The agreement created a youth center and invested $8.3 million in neighborhood improvements, much of which went toward youth development programs.

“Similarly, the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, set an example by advocating for children and dedicating tax revenue from business tax breaks set to expire. These funds are going directly to pre-K programming, helping to cover the loss of funding for 1,000 seats due to declining federal investment. In total, the revenues will bring the city an estimated $6 million annually by 2022.”

“Opinion: Cities find new ways to fill pre-K funding holes left by the federal government,” by Jennifer Davis and Elizabeth Gaines, The Hechinger Report, September 24, 2019

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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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