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“The need for daycare during the coronavirus emergency is hard to overstate.

Almost 80% of American healthcare workers are female: A significant majority of nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians assistants, and doctors under 35 are women. Close to 30% of healthcare workers in California have children under 14. Most are the primary caregiver in their families. If even a fraction were forced to stay home, it could exacerbate the extreme staffing shortages many hospitals now predict.”

“Childcare providers need supplies, coronavirus guidance as daycare system suffers,” by Sonja Sharp, The Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2020

 

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“The Council for Professional Recognition, the international nonprofit organization that oversees the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™, is calling for responsible closures of early childhood centers along with appropriate funding for early childhood educators severely disrupted by the global coronavirus.

“ ‘We advocate for financial assistance for early childhood educators and childcare workers who are losing their income due to program closures. We also appreciate all who continue to serve in support of parents who are emergency responders and essential personnel. K–12 teachers are rightfully still receiving their paychecks during school closures and we call on governments and employers to do all they can to support early childhood education in a similar way. This should apply to all early educators, whether they are in center based, family childcare or home visiting settings,’ says Valora Washington, Ph.D., CEO of the Council.”

“Call for Equitable Treatment of Early Childhood Education,” opinion piece in the Washington, D.C., Patch, March 20, 2020

 

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“I want to thank all our hard-working, dedicated, early childhood education professionals — and especially my employees. My entire team has been positive and willing to help out our first-responders and other vital workers during the pandemic.

“They have been flexible, understanding, creative, and full of grace in a time of scared parents, uncertain futures, and shifting legislative rules and responsibilities. They are taking care of the babies and young children of people who are vital to us getting through this mess, and are having to do it knowing they may be exposed by the next inevitable sniffle or cough.

“Early childhood professionals all deserve so much credit and recognition.”

— Sarah Hall, Kenosha, Wisc., Letter to the Editor of the Kenosha Times, March 25, 2020

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

As the country struggles to cope with the coronavirus, a group of Massachusetts elected officials and their spouses have written a powerful Boston Globe op-ed that calls on Congress to support the child care industry with a bailout.

“COVID-19 has (rightfully) forced the closure of child care centers across Massachusetts. In doing so, it has forced a profound reckoning about the state of the American child care system,” the op-ed says.

The closures, as we’ve blogged, have sown fears and doubts and hard questions that do not yet have answers. And on Wednesday, Governor Baker extended school and non-emergency child care closures to May 4, 2020.

However, the op-ed says:

“One thing is clear: We can no longer afford to approach child care as an economic accessory. We must approach it as the oxygen on which every facet of our recovery will depend.”

The op-ed’s authors are Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and her husband Bruce Mann, a Harvard Law School professor; Representative Joe Kennedy III and his wife Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, the co-founder of Neighborhood Villages; Representative Katherine Clark; and Representative Ayanna Pressley and her husband Conan Harris, the principal of Conan Harris & Associates LLC Consultant Firm.

Exploring the bigger picture, the op-ed adds: (more…)

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An empty early childhood classroom

 

Now that Governor Charlie Baker has ordered child care programs to close to slow the pace of coronavirus infections, many early education and care (EEC) providers are sharing concerns about their sudden challenges.

(Emergency child care is still available for health care workers and other critical professions including grocery story workers and law enforcement.)

As policymakers steer through this public health crisis, they should listen to the voices of early educators who are trying to stay well, support families, and avoid economic collapse.

In response to a Strategies for Children survey, providers have shared their short- and long-term concerns.

Among the immediate concerns: (more…)

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Friends and colleagues,

We hope you are all staying healthy at this time of crisis.

Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker announced that child care programs in Massachusetts will close on Monday, March 23, 2020.

However, Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs will be available regionally to provide care for emergency workers and others. Check the Department of Early Education and Care’s website for guidance documents.

The governor also said that, “Child care providers would continue to receive child care subsidy payments from the state in order to ensure that the programs will be able to reopen once the crisis is over.”

Strategies for Children has been working with the early education and care community to collect and share programs’ urgent needs and to consider advocacy strategies for supporting early education and care providers right now — with an eye on the potential long-term effects of the coronavirus.

If you are an early educator or program director please complete this online form to let us know your short- and long-term needs. If you would like more information, reply to this email or contact Amy O’Leary at aoleary@strategiesforchildren.org.

Here are additional links and resources: (more…)

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Last week, 350 people (many of them strategically wearing red) came to the Massachusetts State House for Advocacy Day for Early Education & Care and School Age Programs.

 

Caitlin Jones and Leishla Diaz of The Guild of St. Agnes in Worcester

 

The morning started with speeches from legislators and the commissioner of Early Education and Care – as well as remarks from a parent and from another parent who became an early educator.

 

 

Afterwards, attendees went to meet with the legislators. Here’s a recap of what the speakers said. (more…)

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“Two divides thwart the best efforts of American educators to improve outcomes for low-income children and their families.

“The first is the gap between early-childhood and K-12 education. The second is between K-12 education and health and social services. Typically these institutions operate in silos. Yet decades of research confirm that to best learn and thrive, children need early-childhood and elementary education to be aligned so that each year builds upon the last, and they need health and social services to be coordinated to maximize their positive impact.

“Over the past decade, I’ve had the opportunity to research and work with communities that are attempting to bridge these divides.”

“Despite working independently, these communities have diagnosed similar challenges to improving supports for children and families. In response, they are converging on a common set of innovative structures and strategies.”

 

“Four Strategies for Getting the First 10 Years of a Child’s Life Right,” by David Jacobson, Education Week, February 4, 2020

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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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