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Archive for the ‘Professional development & preparation’ Category

 

Congratulations to the University of Massachusetts Boston for receiving a $12.4 million StrongStart Training and Technical Assistance Grant from the state.

The funding from the Department of Early Education and Care will support a wholesale overhaul of the training programs for the 70,000 early educators who work in 9,000 early education and care programs across the state.

The work will be led by the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation (the Leadership Institute), which is housed in UMass Boston’s College of Education and Human Development.

“We’re incredibly excited to partner with EEC to support the state’s early education and out-of-school time workforce. The new StrongStart system places Massachusetts at the cutting edge of innovation in the design and delivery of professional development for providers, educators, and leaders in the field,” Anne Douglass, the Leadership Institute’s founder and executive director, said in a UMass press release.

 

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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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Jessica Merrill, Titus DosRemedios, Kelly Savarese, Dawn DiStefano, Nicole Penney, Kim Davenport, Grace Cruz, Efrain Ponce Hamlet, Amy O’Leary, Clifford Kwong, Lisa Van Thiel. Photo courtesy of Kim Davenport.

Last week, there was a standing-room-only hearing at the Massachusetts State House where parents, teachers, and advocates called on elected officials to increase access to high-quality, affordable child care, expand preschool, increase educator salaries, and other priorities.

“Right now many parents struggle to access affordable childcare, and they often choose to stay home to avoid expensive daycare,” WWLP.com reports on the issues covered at the hearing, adding:

“Expanding full-day preschool would give parents the option of going back to work on a part-time or full-time basis.”

The multi-generational impact of having more preschool programs for children that would make it easier for parents to go work would be hugely beneficial for Massachusetts. This could be accomplished by a number of bills that were discussed at the hearing including: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Before you fire up the grill for your July 4th barbecue, come to the State House to advocate for young children and families.

Each legislative session, every bill that is filed gets a public hearing.

For early education and care bills, that hearing is 10 a.m. tomorrow, July 2, 2019, at the State House in room B-2.

Can’t come to the hearing in person? Click this link to send an email to your legislators.

Here at Strategies for Children, our top legislative priority is a preschool expansion bill:

An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education (H.551S.265), was filed in 2019, 2017, and 2015. This bill would expand preschool by investing in high-needs communities that already have state-approved expansion plans. We’ve posted the bill’s fact sheet here. (more…)

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Retired Brigadier Generals Jack Hammond and Gary Pappas. Photo courtesy of Mission:Readiness.

 

Retired Brigadier Generals Jack Hammond and Gary Pappas came to Boston earlier this month to talk about the link between child care and the military – and about the findings in a new, related report, “Child Care and National Security: How greater access to high-quality child care in Massachusetts can help improve military readiness.”

The upshot: high-quality child care is a key ingredient in preparing children to become successful adults who could serve in the military. But right now, most of this state’s potential military candidates could not join the armed forces because of poor health, limited educational attainment, and histories of illegal activities.

“If a basic part of the population, 70 percent roughly [in Massachusetts], cannot pass a simple entrance exam,” Pappas says in an NECN interview, “you have a recruiting problem.” (more…)

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Sally Fuller

Contrary to what you may have heard, Sally Fuller has not completely retired.

Strategies for Children is excited to announce that Fuller, a long-time colleague and friend, has joined our board.

“I have such tremendous respect for what Strategies has done and continues to do,” Fuller told us recently.

As we’ve blogged before, Fuller worked for the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, where she started in 2005 as the project direct for Cherish Every Child, the foundation’s early childhood initiative.

“The Davis family cares deeply about education. That’s their overarching commitment,” Fuller explains. “They knew Margaret Blood,” the founder of Strategies for Children, “and they brought Margaret to Springfield to work with them.”

The Davis Foundation came to sum up its intentions in a single question, Fuller says: “How can we work together to put children at the center of the community’s agenda?”

“That’s how the Cherish Every Child initiative was started at the foundation, and they needed someone to work full time, so that’s why I went there.”

Fuller, the foundation, and community partners across Springfield worked on expanding early education opportunities and on ensuring that more of the city’s children could read proficiently by the third grade.

“We know from a childhood development standpoint how critical that was,” Fuller says of herself and John Davis (a senior director at the foundation), who had looked at the data and seen that only one third of Springfield’s children could read at grade level by the end of third grade. “We started to do this before it became fashionable. The National Campaign for Grade Level Reading started a year after we did. So, I can very honestly say that we were building the plane as we were flying it.” (more…)

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Child/adult interactions are special and powerful – and don’t get the attention that they deserve.

Junlei Li is working to change that with Simple Interactions, an initiative that seeks to “encourage, enrich, and empower human interactions around children and their helpers.”

As we’ve blogged, Li was the co-director of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College. Now he’s the Saul Zaentz senior lecturer in early childhood education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE).

Li “developed the ‘Simple Interactions’ approach to help identify what ordinary people do extraordinarily well with children in everyday moments and made that the basis for promoting positive system change,” his HGSE website says.

These child/adult interactions can occur in a range of settings, from early childhood and K-12 classrooms to afterschool programs and pediatric hospitals.

Li draws inspiration for his work from Fred Rogers, the famous children’s television show host of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood,” who left an indelible mark on generations of young viewers. (more…)

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