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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Category

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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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Worcester, Mass., wants to do more for its children by offering trauma-informed care.

The city’s goal is to look at what scientists call ACES — adverse childhood experiences — and understand their impact on children and how these impacts can cause health problems once children are grown.

“We had been thinking about the vulnerability of our populations in Worcester,” Kim Davenport says of work that was going on around the city. Davenport is the managing director for Birth to 3rd Grade Alignment at Edward Street Child Services.

Among the city entities that were thinking about children was Worcester Hears, a local coalition focused on bringing together “advances in brain science, child development, and best practices to address childhood adversity” to help public school students. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Springfield is having a $12 million, early education dream come true, MassLive.com reports.

The city is opening a new Educare early childhood center in its Old Hill neighborhood.

Educare is a high-quality, research-based early education model that works with young children and their families for multiple years. “The Educare program includes longer days for the children and is year-round,” MassLive says.

“The new center will serve 141 children who will be selected from the Head Start program based on factors including income and need. The early childhood program is for children ages just past birth to 5 years old.”

This work isn’t new for Springfield. From parents to early educators to schools superintendent Dan Warwick, the city has made a powerful commitment to educating its youngest children. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Early education is making local news thanks to Backyard Cambridge, a podcast launched last year by two Cambridge residents “to strengthen local news and civic engagement.”

This month the podcast covers universal pre-K.

As the story points out, finding the right pre-K program can be like walking into an overcrowded mall with no directory. There are private programs and public programs; vouchers and full-pay options; and child care centers, family child care, and school-based programs.

Money also matters. Parents who can spend more of their income on child care can also afford to hire nannies. Cambridge’s public schools offer “junior kindergarten,” for 4-year-olds, but only for half of the ones who live in the city.

Why should anyone care? (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

By guest blogger Titus DosRemedios, Strategies for Children’s Director of Research and Policy

“When will my local community expand preschool?”

This is a question asked by many parents, teachers, elected officials, and other community members. Demand is high, but where is the funding? After all, Massachusetts made a legislative commitment to universal pre-kindergarten back in 2008, 10 years ago.

Now a state grant program will help communities take a small step forward.

Strategies for Children has always advocated for new state funding to increase access to high-quality early education. As we have worked with local communities over the years, we have come to believe that communities that want preschool should first be ready for preschool. And part of that readiness means having a plan, collaborating locally, and advocating.

Thankfully, the state has just made resources available for the first part of that equation.

On January 17, The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) released preschool planning grants for fiscal year 2018. Any community looking to expand its early learning opportunities for young children should apply.  (more…)

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