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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

A new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center offers key advice to states: Focus on making early childhood systems more efficient and effective.

“This issue is important for two reasons,” the report says. “First, support for early childhood programs can only be sustained if the programs are viewed as effective and efficient in their use of public funds.”

Second, inefficiencies can create “real obstacles to access” for the very children that states want to reach.

“When families have to apply to multiple programs, housed across multiple agencies, often with duplicative paperwork requirements and inconsistent eligibility criteria, many simply give up.”

Improving efficiency is demanding work. States have to manage their own early childhood funds, and they receive child care funding from multiple federal sources including Child Care Development Block Grants, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Each funding stream has its own rules and requirements. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Across the country, parents are discovering that they live in “child care deserts,” communities where they can’t find an appropriate spot for their children.

This is a particularly tough problem for the parents of very young children, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress called, “Understanding Infant and Toddler Child Care Deserts.”

The report looks at supply and demand in nine states — Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia — and in Washington, D.C.

Nationally, child child care deserts aren’t just a problem in large, rural states, but also in the rural areas of smaller states — and anywhere where demand for child care is greater than supply. Past studies have shown, for example, that Massachusetts has a deficit of 93,119 child care slots. So when current programs are full to capacity, nearly 1 in 4 Massachusetts children is left without access to child care.” (more…)

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A Montessori student and Janet Begin

 

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

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Janet Begin was a computer engineer for ten years. She worked at AT&T Bell Labs.

“I always knew I wanted to go into education,” Begin, a Haverhill resident, says. “But I knew I liked computers, and I was good at that, so I started there because it was more profitable than education. That’s the sad reality.”

Eventually her company offered a buyout — and tuition benefits. Begin took both and went back to school. She earned a master’s degree in education from Lesley University. She became a substitute teacher in Haverhill where she lived. And she started looking for a preschool program for her daughter.

“In my search, I found a Montessori school, and basically it changed my world,” Begin said. (more…)

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Amanda Medeiros

My name is Amanda Medeiros, and I work at the Lowell Collaborative Preschool Academy.

I have worked in the field of early education and care for eight years, and I love what I do. I help children learn to express their feelings and learn that it is okay to feel different emotions. I help them grow and become independent. I always support families as well. I am here for the parents just as much as I am for children. It can be hard when parents see their children growing, so I help them adjust and understand that it is all normal.

What I’m most proud of as an early educator is seeing children make progress. I love when I hear a child express themselves, especially when I know that is difficult for them. I see children go from not being able to hold a crayon to writing their name in full. It is very rewarding. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Massachusetts is working hard to meet the needs of preschool age children who have special education needs. The goal is inclusion: preparing all children for success in school no matter what challenges or disabilities they have. Ongoing efforts in this area and an upcoming conference are fueling real progress for children.

For parents, trying to find the right services and programs for children with special needs can be daunting. Some help came in 2015, when the federal government issued guidelines about how high-quality programs can be more inclusive.

“States, school districts, local organizations, communities and families must work together so that children with disabilities have access to programs that offer individualized and appropriate help in meeting high expectations,” former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said at the time. (more…)

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Efrain Ponce

This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Efrain Ponce and I work at the Lowell Collaborative Preschool Academy. I have been in the field of early education for 10 years.

The job that I do is important because we are teaching the foundations of education. Not only are we teaching academics, but we also teach children how to be respectful, good citizens. We help parents by coaching them on what advocating for their child means and how to do it. Personally, I want to make sure that when children and their families leave my classroom, they are prepared for the public school system and know what resources are available to them.

One of my proudest moments was working with a child who was in my care a few years back. He was 4 years old when he came into the program, and I worked with him and his mom for the next year. By the end of the program when it was time for him to graduate, mom thanked me for being a strong male role model for him because he didn’t have one. The child even came back for two more years for after-school care and only wanted to come into my room. This experience made me realize how much of an impact an educator can have on children and their families. (more…)

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This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Lesley Byrne, and I work as a pre-K teacher in the Lowell Public Schools. I had worked in early childhood education for seven years when, in 1993, the Lowell initiated the first pre-K programs in its schools. I knew this was where I wanted to be, as I have always believed that providing a positive, first-school experience for families can lead to future school success. I was excited to work toward offering these experiences for children and families. 

For a few years, I was involved in The Family Literacy Program, a collaboration between the Lowell Adult Education program and the Early Childhood Education program. Imagine you’re a parent who is new to this country. You don’t understand English or American culture. Now imagine sending your child to a “foreign” school! The Family Literacy Program aimed to support these families. The program offered classes in English as a Second Language to parents of pre-K children. As one of the pre-K teachers at this time, I got to use my skills not only to educate and support the children in my class, but also to work with parents on how to support their child’s learning at home. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my teaching career.  (more…)

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