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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Even though its federally funded Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) has run out, Springfield, Mass., is continuing to grow its preschool program.

“We win or lose the game at the preschool level,” Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Warwick said when his city won the federal grant.

The PEG grant supported 195 children in 11 classrooms through a mixed-delivery system that included the nonprofit organizations Square One, Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield Head Start, and the YMCA of Greater Springfield.

Now, building on the catalyst of PEG grant funding, Warwick is ensuring that young children will keep winning.

“After a successful pilot program last year,” MassLive.com reports, “Warwick said the preschool programming will be extended to include 19 schools for a total of 643 seats, representing a district investment of more than $1.5 million.”

“Research shows that high-quality preschool provides a substantial head start for young students,” Warwick says in the article.

For children, the payoff is huge: (more…)

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“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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Congresswoman Lori Trahan; Pat Nelson, Executive Director of the Concord Children’s Center; Amy O’Leary, Early Education for All Campaign Director at Strategies for Children. Photo: Eric Stein

 

“I was honored to speak briefly at the Kathy Reticker Forum’s screening of No Small MatterThe film addressed the question ‘Why, when the importance of quality early care is so widely accepted and known, do we continue to fail so many children?’

“It is an important question to ask. Our children are America’s most valuable resource, yet across our country, too many families don’t have access to high-quality, affordable early learning and care that will help them thrive without breaking the bank. Programs like Head Start and grants like Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG) are investments that bring real and positive results to our communities. That’s why I fight hard in Congress to support and grown them. These programs have a proven track record of success in Massachusetts and around the country, and are exactly the type of investments our federal government should be making when it comes to the children and families that are most in need.

“I’m also proud to be working on a number of other pieces of legislation like the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, which dramatically expands access to quality, affordable child care for all families. Congress can and must make progress on this important issue. There’s work to be done.”

 

– U.S. Representative Lori Trahan (D-MA 3rd District)

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Retired Brigadier Generals Jack Hammond and Gary Pappas. Photo courtesy of Mission:Readiness.

 

Retired Brigadier Generals Jack Hammond and Gary Pappas came to Boston earlier this month to talk about the link between child care and the military – and about the findings in a new, related report, “Child Care and National Security: How greater access to high-quality child care in Massachusetts can help improve military readiness.”

The upshot: high-quality child care is a key ingredient in preparing children to become successful adults who could serve in the military. But right now, most of this state’s potential military candidates could not join the armed forces because of poor health, limited educational attainment, and histories of illegal activities.

“If a basic part of the population, 70 percent roughly [in Massachusetts], cannot pass a simple entrance exam,” Pappas says in an NECN interview, “you have a recruiting problem.” (more…)

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