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Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

 

Congress is on summer recess.

Which means that many U.S. senators and representatives are back in their districts – making right now a great time for advocacy.

What can you do? The Ounce and the First Five Years Fund have collected some good ideas in a toolkit and related state fact sheets.

“As Congressional delegates return to their home states, we encourage you to capitalize on this opportunity to highlight the great work happening in your state around early childhood programs by inviting your federal legislators to visit local early learning programs,” an email from National Policy Team at the Ounce says.

One way to start: Thank members of Congress for their bipartisan support of early education and care, then encourage them to do more.

Congress has already:

• made a historic, $2.37 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program in fiscal year 2018

• increased funding for Head Start and Early Head Start as well as for IDEA Preschool Grants, which support children with disabilities, and

• created the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five program which gives states funds to assess their preschool needs and improve their early learning systems (more…)

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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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Boston is getting its first outdoor preschool, a program that will expose children to the lessons of nature.

The Boston Outdoor Preschool Network (BOPN) will open this fall. Its classroom will be the Arnold Arboretum, a 281-acre “museum of living plants” owned by Harvard University.

“Most American kids don’t spend large chunks of their day catching salamanders and poking sticks into piles of fox poop,” an article in the Atlantic about a Maryland program notes. “But that’s precisely what students do at the Nature Preschool at Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills, Maryland. There, every day, dozens of children ages 3 to 5 come to have adventures on Irvine’s more than 200 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows.”

These outdoor programs have “all the same child development goals that more traditional schools have, but they also are committed to accomplishing those goals through experiences in and with nature,” according to the Natural Start Alliance, a network of individuals and organizations that’s part of the North American Association for Environmental Education.

Richard Louv, whose 2008 book, “Last Child in the Woods,” says many children are experiencing a nature deficit disorder, explains: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On July 31, 2019, Governor Charlie Baker signed the FY20 state budget into law. The new budget includes good news for early education and care, so please take a minute to thank the governor and members of the Legislature.

The governor did not veto any spending, preserving the $43.3 billion conference committee budget which was passed by the Legislature on July 22, 2019.

This year’s budget was bolstered by increased tax collections, and it includes a plan to control pharmaceutical drug costs, according to State House News Service.

The FY20 budget for early education and care represents continued progress and investment. This is the seventh consecutive budget since the historic spending low-point of FY13 that increases investments in young children, families, and early educators. It is the second year in a row that state investment has exceeded the pre-recession high-point of investment in FY09.

The FY20 budget also includes a $20 million rate increase for early educator salaries, $5 million in preschool grants through the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative, and $5 million in workforce development grants to community colleges. 

We’ve posted a complete list of early education line items as well as a Department of Early Education and Care funding trends chart  that covers fiscal years 2009 to 2020. 

So please let Governor Baker and your state legislators know that you appreciate them for investing in high-quality early education in this year’s state budget. 

For more information, contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org or (617) 330-7387.

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“In recent years, bipartisan work has produced positive results, yet 40 percent of Virginia children are arriving in kindergarten unprepared for success in school.”

“Providing a quality publicly-subsidized care and education option for all underserved three- and four-year-olds is the best investment we can make in our workforce of the future.”

 

— Governor Ralph Northam, “Governor Northam Establishes Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness,” Governor’s Office press release, July 24, 2019

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During the summer months, young children who are homeless benefit from high-quality pre-K programs.

“Universal pre-K has been a gift to many Boston families,” the Boston Herald reports. “But for homeless and poor families, the end of the school year can be a burden that poses a difficult hardship.”

Without summertime pre-K, these children may not have anywhere to go during the day.

Fortunately, the local nonprofit Horizons for Homeless Children offers summertime opportunities.

The Herald tells the story of how one young mother, Itzamarie Torres, and her two sons, have relied on Horizons, saying of Torres:

“The 23-year-old single mom was pregnant and living in a shelter with her toddler son. It was a scary time, but she soon found housing, got a job, moved into an apartment and is now earning her GED at Roxbury Community College.

“She’s grateful for Horizons for Homeless Children, a nonprofit that runs three year-round early education centers in Roxbury, Dorchester and Jamaica Plain, and the stability it gives to her sons, Ayden, 4, and Adrian, 2.

“ ‘It’s wonderful. As a single mom, it’s very helpful,’ said Torres, who is happy the center is open in the summer. ‘I wouldn’t be able to work or go to school or do the things that I am doing now to further myself because I wouldn’t have anybody to watch them.’ ” (more…)

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Early education classrooms are bright and fun, but they’re not always open to young children with disabilities.

Massachusetts works hard to meet these children’s needs through its Early Intervention program, but a new paper – “Early Childhood Special Education in Massachusetts,” written by Strategies for Children interns Annapurna Ayyappan and Marisa Fear — points out that there’s room for the state to make improvements.

In 2014, the federal government addressed the problem with a policy statement jointly released by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that said in part:

“It is the Departments’ position that all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, where they are provided with individualized and appropriate support in meeting high expectations.”

Getting this work done in Massachusetts, Ayyappan and Fear write, is essential:

“Early childhood education has the potential to provide children with the positive experiences that will establish a strong foundation upon which they can grow… Early intervention for children with developmental delays or disabilities targets the brain at a time when its services can have the greatest positive effects.” (more…)

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