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Archive for the ‘MA Legislature’ Category

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During debate, most amendments for early education and care were either withdrawn or voted down.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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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

The Massachusetts state budget process is underway, so it’s time to advocate for early education and care.

So far, Governor Charlie Baker has filed his FY20 budget proposal.

The House has also debated and passed its budget. And while the House budget includes an important investment in early educator salaries, through a $20 million rate reserve, it does not include any funding for preschool expansion grants. This could have been addressed by a $15 million amendment filed by Rep. Jay Livingstone (D-Boston) that would have funded the state’s Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative. But ultimately, this amendment was not included in the education and local aid amendment that did pass.

Here’s the recent funding history:

Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (3000-6025)
FY19 Final budget: $5,000,000
FY20 Governor’s budget: $2,500,000
FY20 House budget: not funded
FY20 Senate budget: TBD (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Strategies for Children has just published a new policy brief, “Local Governance for Early Childhood: Lessons from Leading States.” It contains some of the new knowledge that we’ve learned from our work with communities.

What is local governance? Well, think of the K-12 system, which is organized around local school districts, with budgets, programming, and other decisions made by school committees and superintendents. In the birth-to-5 sector, there are no school committees or superintendents. What we have instead, in any given community, is a patchwork of independent programs and services.

Or as Vivian Terkel-Gat, our UMass Boston intern and the author of the policy brief, writes, “Local early education governance is essential for creating a coordinated, early care and education structure.” This helps communities take responsibility for creating shared goals and achieving better results for children. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the House Committee on Ways and Means released a $42.7 billion state budget for fiscal year 2020. In his letter to members, Chairman Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) highlighted investments in early education.

“Under the leadership of Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Massachusetts has prioritized the field of early education and care, investing in both access and quality,” Michlewitz wrote. “This budget continues these historic investments, including another $20 million rate reserve for early educators, which will help to raise salaries allowing education providers to recruit and retain high quality staff. This funding ensures Massachusetts’s youngest residents will receive the best possible care from experienced teachers during their most formative years.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

Early education programs across Massachusetts have used federal Preschool Expansion Grants (PEG) to add more seats and serve more than 800 additional children annually. But now these programs – located in Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield — face a tough question: What happens next year after their PEG grants run out?

Boston is taking proactive steps. Mayor Marty Walsh has announced a plan to invest $15 million over five years to ensure high-quality pre-K for all 4-year-olds in the city.

In other communities, PEG grants have had a great deal of local success. The grants have supported some of the highest quality preschool classrooms in the state.

These benefits were highlighted yesterday, at a meeting of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) where researchers from Abt Associates summarized the most recent PEG program evaluations. A video of the Board meeting is posted here. It starts at 34:32. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

Across Massachusetts, communities are ready to expand their high-quality preschool programs.

All they need is more state funding.

And with budget season in full swing, now is a great time to ask the Legislature to invest well and wisely in early education and care.

Communities have been waiting for preschool funding for several years. In 2016, “thanks to state-funded planning grants,” 13 Massachusetts communities developed preschool expansion plans, as Titus DosRemedios explains in this Alliance for Early Success blog post. DosRemedios is Strategies for Children’s director of research and policy. He adds:

“The grants piggyback off of Massachusetts’ federal Preschool Expansion Grant, which provides high-quality full-day, full-year preschool to more than 850 four-year-olds annually in five cities.”

Since 2016, the list has grown to 18 communities, thanks to two more rounds of preschool planning grants from the Department of Early Education and Care that were funded in the FY17 and FY18 state budgets. (more…)

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