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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Category

“Leading the Way,” is a series featuring the next generation of leaders in the field of early education and care.

Kretcha Roldan

Kretcha Roldan has spent her career combining social work and education.

That’s what she loved about her job as executive director of AVANCE, a nonprofit organization in Waco, Texas, that runs a two-generation education and personal development program for children and parents.

“I’m a social working by training and by profession, but I fell in love with that concept: understanding how early education empowers parents to become children’s first teacher,” Rodan says. “It really helps the family to grow.”

Praised by former first lady Laura Bush, AVANCE serves Waco’s low-income, immigrant population.

Children and parents come to school each day. “The parents go to ESL classes or GED classes, and the children come to early childhood education classes. The parents also take parenting skills training.”

“Sometimes parents who have no means think that they cannot teach their children because they do not have the resources. When, honestly, what you need to teach a two-year-old are very basic things to have activity in their brain cells.” So the program helped parents tap their own ingenuity and creativity to use common household items to teach their children about numbers and colors.

“And both parent and child graduate. They both walk in with gowns.” (more…)

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Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Early educators wear a lot of hats: they’re educators and advocates, they advise parents, and they help with public problems like the opioid crisis.

They are also woefully underpaid, and this creates, as House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said, an early childhood education (ECE) workforce crisis.

To better define the crisis, Strategies for Children has released a new policy brief – “ECE Workforce Needs: Local Solutions from Preschool Planning” – that’s written by Jenna Knight, an intern at Strategies and a student at Tufts University’s Eliot-Pearson Child Study & Human Development program.

“One thing that stood out for me is how typical these workforce needs are across the state and nation, but the community-generated approaches such as the ones I’ve highlighted come from a strengths-based lens,” Knight says. “Empowering communities to collaborate, identify connections, and use approaches that work for their needs and for families being served is essential to making effective progress, particularly on ECE workforce needs.” (more…)

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Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. 

 

“We have to change the conversation so that those who are suffering feel freer to talk about their circumstances and receive treatment,” Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said to a roomful of early educators and staff members from home visiting and early intervention programs who were all there to participate in a groundbreaking training session on the opioid crisis.

This was the first of six training programs that will be held across the state in an effort to reach 600 professionals who work with young children. It’s also a sad but necessary recognition that the opioid crisis takes a toll on infants, some of whom are born addicted to opioids, as well as on toddlers and young children whose parents struggle with addiction.

Massachusetts has been hit hard by this crisis. According to the state’s Opioid epidemic website: (more…)

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“Helena Ferreira, the primary years teacher of English language learners at Provincetown Schools, spent $11,600 last year to enroll her two children in the town-sponsored Wee Care program.

“ ‘I’m a single mom of two kids,’ she said on Friday. ‘It was a difficult decision for me, but it put me at ease to have a place with high-quality child care, safety and education. That program allowed me to continue working.’

“Ferreira started using the program when her now three-year-old daughter, Beatrix, was four months old. Her now one-year-old son, Simon, started at Wee Care when he was six months old. Toddler tuition is $75 per day, with discounts for town residents and employees of the school. Preschool and prekindergarten tuition starts at $45 per day ($35 for a half day) and summer programs are $75 per day.

“These amounts add up, which is why Ferreira hopes town voters will approve three articles at the April 2 Annual Town Meeting that would make child care and preschool free for all infants to five-year-olds. The free tuition would be available only to Provincetown residents or town employees, said Provincetown Schools Superintendent Beth Singer.”

“Universal preschool up for vote at Provincetown Town Meeting,” Wicked Local Wellfleet, March 29, 2018

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This is the debut of “Leading the Way,” a series featuring the next generation of leaders in the field of early education and care.

 

Michele Dambrosio

Justin Pasquariello

For Justin Pasquariello and Michele Dambrosio, leading the way in early education means making substantial investments in people.

Last year, Pasquariello became the executive director of the East Boston Social Centers (EBSC), a 100-year-old nonprofit, multiservice agency that runs a number of programs, including an early learning program, that’s run by Dambrosio the early learning administrator.

The two administrators run their early learning program with the supports found in a school system, providing transportation for children and a career ladder for staff. And they’re leading the way on public policy, talking about the next big policy steps for early education.

“We really need a paradigm shift in the United States, and we’ve done it in the past” Pasquariello says, noting that years ago the country expanded the definition of public education to include high school, and, eventually, kindergarten. It’s time now, he says, to do what other nations have done and recognize “the need for high-quality universal free (or at least affordable-to-all) early learning.” (more…)

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Image: Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center

 

As families with low incomes work hard to make ends meet — paying for food, housing, and child care — one popular, bipartisan policy that helps is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The credit reduces families’ tax bill or gives families a refund so that they have more cash.

It’s an approach that has had a positive local impact, according to a brief from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), “The Reach of the Massachusetts State Earned Income Tax Credit, by City and Town.”

“More than 400,000 tax filers claim the Massachusetts state EITC each year. In Fiscal Year 2019, the state’s Administration currently estimates tax filers will receive a total of $214.1 million in credits,” MassBudget explains.

EITC has been especially important because workers’ wages have been stagnant for several decades. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Children who are Dual Language Learners (DLLs) are a global group. They come from places like China, Pakistan, Brazil, Bhutan, Nepal, and Mexico. They bring dozens of languages into classrooms — and they create an opportunity for early educators to grow to meet these children’s needs.

Despite this “superdiversity,” “little research to date has focused on effective approaches for multilingual and multicultural early childhood programs and classrooms,” a report — “Growing Superdiversity among Young U.S. Dual Language Learners and Its Implications” — from the Migration Policy Institute explains.

And while there are programs to support Spanish-speaking DLLs, the report adds, “similar provisions for speakers of other, less commonly spoken minority languages are rare, making such services even less accessible for a substantial portion of DLLs and their families.”

“At a time when DLL children are speaking a far more diverse range of languages, many communities across the United States are experiencing classroom superdiversity with little to no guidance on effective practices for promoting their cognitive and socioemotional development.” (more…)

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