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Archive for the ‘MA Legislature’ Category

“Sen. Sal DiDomenico recently testified before the Joint Committee on Education in support of his bill, S.265, An Act ensuring high-quality pre-kindergarten education. This legislation would expand preschool, using grants from the state, beginning with high-needs communities that are ready with a state-approved expansion plan.

“ ‘Across Massachusetts, people are ready for more preschool,’ said DiDomenico in his testimony before the Committee. ‘I have heard from countless parents who want this learning opportunity for their children, but often can’t afford it or are on waiting lists. Local communities, led by community-based programs, school districts, and mayors, have solid plans for preschool expansion and are waiting for new public dollars to begin implementation. That is why I filed this legislation, and I am confident this bill is an important next step towards improving and expanding high quality early education for our kids.’ ”

 

“DiDomenico Urges Action on High Quality Pre-K,” by Record Staff, Chelsea Record, July 18, 2019

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

“In 2017, Raya Kirby of North Adams discussed the difficulty of affording care for her newborn while working as a master’s level clinical social worker. Raya had to return to work 12 weeks after giving birth in order to support her family, but this was difficult given that the cost of childcare was ‘astronomical’ and there was a long waitlist for child care vouchers.”

Jill Ashton shared this story a few weeks ago at the State House hearing on early education and care.  Ashton is the executive director of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, an independent state agency that gathers information on women and makes policy recommendations.

Two other stories that Ashton shared at the hearing are:

“In 2018, Ana Saravia of Barnstable spoke to the Commission about her struggle in trying to afford childcare as a single mother of four children, one of whom is autistic. She was forced to relocate due to financial constraints, which were compounded by the high costs of childcare.”

And: (more…)

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Jessica Merrill, Titus DosRemedios, Kelly Savarese, Dawn DiStefano, Nicole Penney, Kim Davenport, Grace Cruz, Efrain Ponce Hamlet, Amy O’Leary, Clifford Kwong, Lisa Van Thiel. Photo courtesy of Kim Davenport.

Last week, there was a standing-room-only hearing at the Massachusetts State House where parents, teachers, and advocates called on elected officials to increase access to high-quality, affordable child care, expand preschool, increase educator salaries, and other priorities.

“Right now many parents struggle to access affordable childcare, and they often choose to stay home to avoid expensive daycare,” WWLP.com reports on the issues covered at the hearing, adding:

“Expanding full-day preschool would give parents the option of going back to work on a part-time or full-time basis.”

The multi-generational impact of having more preschool programs for children that would make it easier for parents to go work would be hugely beneficial for Massachusetts. This could be accomplished by a number of bills that were discussed at the hearing including: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Before you fire up the grill for your July 4th barbecue, come to the State House to advocate for young children and families.

Each legislative session, every bill that is filed gets a public hearing.

For early education and care bills, that hearing is 10 a.m. tomorrow, July 2, 2019, at the State House in room B-2.

Can’t come to the hearing in person? Click this link to send an email to your legislators.

Here at Strategies for Children, our top legislative priority is a preschool expansion bill:

An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education (H.551S.265), was filed in 2019, 2017, and 2015. This bill would expand preschool by investing in high-needs communities that already have state-approved expansion plans. We’ve posted the bill’s fact sheet here. (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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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

On Thursday, May 23, 2019, the Massachusetts Senate passed a $42.8 billion state budget for fiscal year 2020. This includes $74 million in amendments.

“The Senate voted 40-0 around 10:30 p.m. Thursday to adopt the spending plan, which was amended over the course of three days of debate in the Senate Chamber,” according to a State House News Service story.

During debate, most amendments for early education and care were either withdrawn or voted down. Among these amendments were proposals for an early educator rate increase and for preschool expansion grant funding. The amendments that did pass totaled $2.6 million, and they added small amounts of funding for specific programs – East End House in Cambridge, Community Action Agency of Somerville, Square One in Springfield, Nurtury in Boston, Jumpstart, and Parent-Child Home Program – as well as funding for statewide resource and referral agencies [Access Management, 3000-2000].

The final Senate budget provides $16.6 million less for early education than the House budget.

To reconcile the differences between House and Senate budgets, a six-member conference committee will begin negotiations soon. Check back for advocacy opportunities.

For a complete list of early education line items, click here.

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

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released a $42.7 billion state budget proposal for fiscal year 2020.

Compared to FY19 levels, the Senate’s budget makes modest increases in funding for early education and care. But overall, this budget allocates less for early childhood than both Governor Charlie Baker’s budget and the House budget.

Most notably, the Senate proposal does not include:

• a rate increase for early educators [3000-1042]

• grant funding for community colleges to run early educator workforce development programs [3000-7066], and

• funding for Reach Out and Read [3000-7070]

The Senate budget does include $5 million for preschool grants under the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative [3000-6025]. This critical funding would allow the Department of Early Education and Care to continue some of its preschool expansion activities in FY20, but this allocation falls short of Strategies for Children’s recommendation of $25 million. That is the amount needed to maintain support for preschool programs that have expiring federal grants, sustain state-funded preschool grants that have just begun in six communities this spring, and offer grants to additional communities.

Senators have until Friday to file budget amendments, so check back for updates.

Click here for a complete list of the Senate’s proposed early education budget line items.

And for more information, contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org, (617) 330-7387.

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