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Archive for the ‘MA state budget’ Category

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

 

The Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program is getting a makeover. The program’s scholarships help early childhood and after-school educators earn college degrees – either an associate or a bachelor’s.

The scholarship launched 10 years ago. It was added to the Massachusetts state budget thanks to the efforts of legislative leaders and advocates, including Strategies for Children. At the time, data showed that only 30 percent of center-based early educators held a BA or higher degree.

The scholarship is greatly appreciated by teachers. As Jennie Antunes, an early educator and scholarship recipient from New Bedford, told us:

“Even though I had been doing this work for so long, there was so much more I wanted to learn to strengthen my teaching. I take great pride in my accomplishments, proving to myself that I could work full time as well as attend school full time.” (more…)

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Source: Representative Alice Peisch’s Twitter page

There’s promising news for early educators in the House’s budget proposal. The developing budget would give early educators a much-needed salary increase.

The Boston Globe reports: “‘We’re at a tipping point,’ said DeLeo, citing the many underpaid and unqualified workers who tend to the state’s youngest students. ‘It’s a workforce which, quite frankly, I believe is in crisis.’”

“There are about 90,000 early childhood teachers in the state, who earn a median annual salary of around $25,000 — just $700 above the federal poverty level for a family of four.”

In addition, House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) “plans to file a bill to expand professional development for early educators to bolster a system he described as ‘in crisis,’” according to the State House News Service.

DeLeo points to a troubling paradox, WWLP reports. While more pre-school teachers are needed in classrooms, “fewer people are pursuing careers in education.” (more…)

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Foreground: Representative Claire Cronin (D-Plymouth) speaking to Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Background: TeeAra Dias, Preschool Expansion Grant Project Manager, Boston Public Schools.

Foreground: Representative Claire Cronin (D-Plymouth) speaking to Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Background: TeeAra Dias, Preschool Expansion Grant Project Manager, Boston Public Schools.

 

“We now know there are more kids in more programs, but clearly not enough, clearly not enough,” Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children, told the 100 participants at a meeting that was held last month in downtown Boston for the community teams from across Massachusetts that are focused on expanding preschool opportunities for children and families.

We’re including audio clips and photos from the event in this blog post.

 

Strategies for Children’s Amy O’Leary presents a brief history of state policy for early education and care.

 

Each team had received either federal Preschool Expansion Grant funds to add high-quality preschool seats (5 communities); state-funded preschool planning grants (13 communities); or both. Combined, these communities are Athol, Boston, Brockton, Cape Cod, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Springfield, Somerville, and Worcester. (more…)

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Photo: Alastair Pike, Office of Governor Charlie Baker. Source: Governor Baker's Flickr page.

Photo: Alastair Pike, Office of Governor Charlie Baker. Source: Governor Baker’s Flickr page.

Yesterday, Governor Baker released his state budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. The $40.5 billion budget represents a 4.3 percent increase over current year spending.

Early education and care was level funded in the budget. The Department of Early Education and Care and its programs were funded at $552.62 million. This includes a $7 million rate increase for the early education and care workforce, and increases for early education access accounts. Reach Out and Read, which recently lost its $1 million in state funding during mid-year budget cuts, was not funded in the governor’s budget.

WBUR covers the budget here.

A Lowell Sun article is posted here.

Please join us for a conference call at 3 p.m. today, Thursday, January 26, to review Governor Baker’s FY18 budget recommendations. 

Email aoleary@strategiesforchildren.org to get the call-in information. 

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Early education policies are all over the map — literally and figuratively. While some states are making big investments in very young children, others lag behind.

How are specific states doing? The Ounce of Prevention Fund, a national advocacy organization, takes a look in its August 2016 State Policy Update. It’s a “mini-update” that “provides a snapshot of early childhood care and education budget and policy changes in states during the 2016 legislative sessions as of July 2016.”

This year, “numerous states across the country made major policy changes and investments that advanced access to high-quality early learning programs,” The Ounce says, pointing to:

• Rhode Island, where “codified key elements of the state’s home visiting system” became law “through the passage of The Rhode Island Family Home Visiting Act. The state’s Department of Health is required to work with other state agencies to identify vulnerable families and offer them the opportunity to enroll in evidence-based home visiting programs.”

• In Nebraska, tax credits abound. “The School Readiness Tax Credit Act will create two new state tax credits… for early childhood programs and individual early childhood professionals in 2017.” (more…)

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Photo: Wrentham Public Schools

Photo: Wrentham Public Schools

A message from Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children (SFC).

“As September starts, children and families across Massachusetts are heading back to school. Even programs that run for a full calendar year are enrolling new children and families and supporting these children as they make this transition. Some children are starting kindergarten and entering an elementary school for the first time. Some children are also entering a classroom for the first time because they’ve had no prior preschool experience. Indeed, national, state, and local data confirm that there is great variation in young children’s experiences during their first five years, and this is, unfortunately, where achievement gaps take root.

“There has been great interest in expanding high-quality early education opportunities for children in the commonwealth. Legislators filed several bills to do this work, however comprehensive pre-K expansion did not become state law this past legislative session. The state’s revenue picture remains challenging, and without additional revenue expanding access to high-quality early education and care will be difficult. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

There isn’t a lot of new state funding for early education and care for fiscal year 2017, but Massachusetts is holding steady, keeping existing funds flowing to provide high-quality learning experiences for young children.

Last week, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced “$42 million in grant awards” for a number of initiatives to “support the quality and availability of early education and care programs” across the Commonwealth.

“High-quality early education and care programs provide children with a strong foundation for learning, academic success, and positive outcomes overall,” Baker said in a press release.

“We thank our early education providers and agency partners who work hard every day to provide our youngest learners with the tools they need to succeed in school and life,” Polito added. (more…)

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