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Archive for the ‘MA state budget’ Category

 

Preschool Expansion Grants (PEG grants) have been generating a lot of action. As we blogged last week, researchers have found that communities are successfully using the federal funding to expand preschool offerings, and offer high-quality, effective programs that meet the needs of children and families.

We decided to chronicle some of these efforts in two recently released community stories.

One story focuses on Springfield where Dan Warwick, superintendent of the city’s public schools, was determined to create more opportunities for young children. The city bought a building at 15 Catharine Street and turned it into a busy hub of preschool activity.

“That’s one of the best programs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Warwick says in the story. “Three private providers and the public schools in the same building, same coaches, same curriculum, really working together very well.” (more…)

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A series featuring communities that have a plan to expand preschool.
Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Kuh

Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Kuh, the Director of Early Education for Somerville Public Schools

 

Somerville serves only about 45 percent of the 4-year-olds who could potentially enroll in preschool.

Our Preschool Expansion Strategic Planning Grant inspired us to develop a three-year plan that builds upon existing partnerships and adds 108 additional seats in a mixed-delivery system. To do this in the upcoming 2017-18 school year, Somerville Public Schools (SPS) will expand its collaboration with Head Start to accommodate 36 more children in classrooms taught by both SPS and Head Start teachers.

In 2018-2020, we hope to add up to 72 slots across community-based childcare providers for income-eligible families. The cost per child includes pay equity for teachers, administrative support for directors, coaching and curriculum support, and comprehensive mental health and family services. We hope state funding will support this expansion. (more…)

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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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