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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Category

Senator Elizabeth Warren talks to a very young constituent. Source: Senator Warren’s Instagram account

 

“I just want to start by thanking you for all the work you’re doing to keep children safe and to support our community,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said Friday when she joined a Strategies for Children Zoom call, adding:

“This is an unprecedented time for our communities, for our nation, for the entire world — and a time when it is so easy for the most vulnerable, the ones who don’t have their own lobbyists in Washington to get left behind.”

In a lively, inspiring conversation, Warren shared details about the $50 billon child care bailout bill she co-filed with Senator Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) to help the early education and care field survive the coronavirus pandemic and thrive afterwards. Warren also listened to questions and feedback from providers.

“I know that a lot of you on this call have concerns about how the childcare market is going to make it through this very challenging situation. And that is the reason why I’m fighting so hard to help every child care provider weather this crisis and come out on the other side stronger than ever before,” Warren said.

“We’re fighting in Congress to make sure that the funding is there, so that when it’s safe, every child care provider is able to reopen their doors.”

Warren has a three-part plan for the field: (more…)

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Source: Department of Early Education and Care

 

At a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday, Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy shared plans for reopening Massachusetts’ early childhood programs.

A recording of the event is posted here.

“We’re looking toward the future and trying to think [about] and design strategies that can ensure that we are building a more supportive and more solid foundation for child care providers,” Commissioner Sam said at the town hall.

She is proposing a phased opening that builds on Governor Charlie’s Baker’s order that all schools and EEC programs remain closed through June 29, 2020.

As the slide below explains, EEC will engage in a three-step reopening process of assessing the EEC landscape, designing strategies that “addresses health and safety, sustainability, workforce, and financing,” and preparing to put these strategies into action. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Local philanthropy “has an essential role to play.”

That’s the conclusion of an article about early education and care and the coronavirus pandemic.

“My biggest fear now,’ Janet Dotolo, of Melrose Day Care Center and Preschool in Melrose, Mass., says in the article, “is that I won’t be able to reopen when it is safe to do so, because my staff won’t come back.”

The article, which was published by the Bridgespan Group — a nonprofit organization that helps organizations and philanthropists “achieve breakthrough results” — explains:

“The United States has about 129,000 child care centers (a mix of nonprofit, for-profit, and faith-based) and 115,000 licensed home-based providers, who fill a critical need for families not well-served by centers.”

Having a functioning child care system is “of course, a vital resource for the healthy development of the 15 million children under age 6 with working parents.”

But the pandemic has created economic hardships that could force many programs to close permanently, which threatens communities’ abilities “to educate young children and restart their economies.” (more…)

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“Day care providers in Massachusetts, already ordered closed since March 23, could struggle to ever reopen unless they can get more aid, according to early childhood advocates.

“Gov. Charlie Baker announced that schools and non-emergency day care programs would remain closed through June 29. Even as it’s the necessary decision for public health, advocates say lengthening the closure puts a strain on an already fragile system of care with thin operating margins.

“Advocates estimate about half of the child care market in Massachusetts is funded directly by individuals and families, many of whom are facing loss of income and other uncertainties.

“ ‘We know that programs need those dollars to survive,’ said Amy O’Leary, director of the Early Education for All campaign with the group Strategies for Children. ‘I’m worried that we’re going to come to a point where programs just cannot continue to stay open without some serious investment.’ ”

“Extended Closures Could Mean Some Mass. Daycares Never Reopen,” by Kathleen McNerney, Edify, WBUR, April 23, 2020

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Some 500 organizations, including Strategies for Children, have signed a letter that asks Congress to make a $50 billion investment in child care.

“Child care’s essential status demands dedicated relief that acknowledges the unique needs of a system that was already teetering on the edge of financial viability before this pandemic,” the letter says. “Specifically, we request that Congress provide at least $50 billion in total funding dedicated to child care to offer immediate relief to providers, educators, and families during this crisis.”

“Without these investments, we risk the disintegration of our child care infrastructure, leaving children, families, and child care workers with no system to return to as we recover,” the letter adds.

“At the beginning of this crisis, nearly 50% of child care providers predicted that they would not survive more than two weeks of closures without support; many of these closures have begun, and, without a clear end in sight, the widespread effects are already being felt. Providers that remain open are struggling to cover their operational costs, with reduced enrollment, especially as they try to protect the wellbeing of their workers and the families they serve during this pandemic.” (more…)

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“As a constituent, I am grateful for the services offered,” Nairobi Woodberry, a Framingham mother of three, said yesterday at Advocacy Day 2020 about the early education and care support she has received, including a booklet with information about Framingham’s public parks and school contact information as well as advice on how to look for quality early education and care programs. Woodberry is also part of the ParentChild Plus+ program, which provides home visiting and other services to families.

Woodberry, who was previously homeless, now works as a school bus driver.

 

 

 

Early educators attended Advocacy Day and spoke about the importance of being paid higher wages so that they can stay in the field — and support their own families.

 

Sign: “Thank you for supporting high-quality early education.”

 

Photos: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

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What does it take to expand pre-K? Take a look at Holyoke, Mass.

That’s where officials used a federal Preschool Expansion Grant to enroll children in high-quality early education programs and to reach out to and engage parents.

What made Holyoke successful?

Tune into Episode 51 of the Gateways Podcast to find out. The podcast, which is sponsored by local think tank MassINC, looks at lessons learned and future strategies.

Hosted by Ben Forman, MassINC’s research director, episode 51’s guests were:

• Amy O’Leary, director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All Campaign

• Steve Huntley, executive director of the Valley Opportunity Council, and

• Stephen Zrike, Holyoke Public Schools’ receiver and superintendent.

In a LinkedIn post, Tom Weber, the former commissioner of Massachusetts’ Department of Early Education and Care, called the podcast “a thoughtful discussion of an innovative public-partnership model that has delivered strong student outcomes…”

What’s next for Holyoke and other cities that want to expand pre-K?

As we’ve blogged, they could choose to use new Student Opportunity Act funding to invest in high-quality pre-K programs.

The sooner cities act the better, because as Amy explains in the podcast:

“All the research tells us that if we invest earlier and have high-quality programs, we’re going to see benefits for children and families.”

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