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Archive for the ‘Strategies for Children’ Category

Here at Strategies for Children, we’ve been lucky to have a first-rate group of interns. They help us expand our research, outreach, and advocacy.

Currently, we have three interns whom we’re happy to introduce: Anna Lenihan, Alexis Rickmers, and Becca Smith. Here’s a little more about each of them.

 

Anna Lenihan

I am a senior at Wake Forest University working towards a major in Psychology and a minor in Schools, Education, and Society. I plan on teaching for a few years and doing community-based work before entering the field of educational policy. My time at Strategies for Children has allowed me to see the importance of advocacy and community partnerships. At SFC, I have worked on connecting early childhood educators with government officials in order to emphasize the statewide importance of early childhood education. Strategies has allowed me to see how policy and advocacy can influence change at both the local and state level.

As a Cambridge native, I feel deeply invested in the quality of education in Massachusetts. I believe that education can change the world and that access to quality early childhood education gives children of all backgrounds the foundation they need to fulfill their potential. From the classroom to the State House, Strategies has given me the opportunity to see how change is truly made. (more…)

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Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Early educators wear a lot of hats: they’re educators and advocates, they advise parents, and they help with public problems like the opioid crisis.

They are also woefully underpaid, and this creates, as House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said, an early childhood education (ECE) workforce crisis.

To better define the crisis, Strategies for Children has released a new policy brief – “ECE Workforce Needs: Local Solutions from Preschool Planning” – that’s written by Jenna Knight, an intern at Strategies and a student at Tufts University’s Eliot-Pearson Child Study & Human Development program.

“One thing that stood out for me is how typical these workforce needs are across the state and nation, but the community-generated approaches such as the ones I’ve highlighted come from a strengths-based lens,” Knight says. “Empowering communities to collaborate, identify connections, and use approaches that work for their needs and for families being served is essential to making effective progress, particularly on ECE workforce needs.” (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: 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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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

“Why Are Our Most Important Teachers Paid the Least?” journalist Jeneen Interlandi asks in the title of a recent New York Times Magazine article.

The article tells the story of Kejo Kelly, an early educator in Springfield, Mass., who is devoted to her work despite earning a low salary, weathering personal tragedies, and covering for absent colleagues.

“The community Kelly taught in was low-income by all the standard metrics,” the article says. “Many of her students came from single-parent households — some from teenage mothers, at least one from foster care — and nearly all of them qualified for state-funded child care vouchers.”

Teachers at Kelly’s preschool program earn some $10 per hour, and staff turnover is high. The preschool can afford to “cover basics like food and art supplies but not enough to pay for on-site behavioral specialists or occupational therapists.” That’s why:

“Kelly kept her own fractured vigil — taking note of which students couldn’t control their emotions, or sit still for the life of them, or engage with others in a meaningful way — and giving those students whatever extra attention could be spared. She sometimes imagined the classroom as a bubble, inside which her students were temporarily spared from the hazards of everyday life. Her job, as she saw it, was to hold that bubble open for the ones who couldn’t always hold it open themselves.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

A guest blog by Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children.

We’re keeping an eye on early education trends, and we think there are six important things to watch for in 2018.

• FY19 state budget advocacy

Will the Governor and the Legislature continue their support for the early childhood education workforce? We hope so. Massachusetts has made important progress.

• Dear Massachusetts Legislature: Please expand preschool.

Last year, the Senate Ways and Means committee included $15 million for expansion, but this allocation did not make it into the final budget.

We are continuing to advocate for a bill that would invest in expansion in a small but powerful way. “An Act ensuring high quality early education,” H.2874 filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and S.240 filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) would award preschool expansion grants to high-needs communities that are ready to go with comprehensive implementation plans. (more…)

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JD Chesloff

We caught up with JD Chesloff, who just completed a 10-year term on the Board of Early Education and Care (EEC), and asked him about what he’s seen over the last decade.

As readers of this blog know, JD’s career includes working at Strategies for Children and in the State House. He was also chair of EEC’s Board, and he is currently the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable.

What has he seen as an EEC board member?

“The organization has matured over the last 10 years. It started out as a fledgling idea of having all of the early childhood activity in one place.”

“It’s grown up over that time and now it’s a clearly equal member at the education table with K-12 and higher education.”

JD praises the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and its focus on ensuring that children and families have access to high-quality programs. The department has also wrestled with serving all children, making universal access part of its vision in a 5-Year Strategic Plan.

What was the most personally satisfying part of JD’s time on the Board? (more…)

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