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Archive for the ‘Strategies for Children’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

“In 2017, Raya Kirby of North Adams discussed the difficulty of affording care for her newborn while working as a master’s level clinical social worker. Raya had to return to work 12 weeks after giving birth in order to support her family, but this was difficult given that the cost of childcare was ‘astronomical’ and there was a long waitlist for child care vouchers.”

Jill Ashton shared this story a few weeks ago at the State House hearing on early education and care.  Ashton is the executive director of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, an independent state agency that gathers information on women and makes policy recommendations.

Two other stories that Ashton shared at the hearing are:

“In 2018, Ana Saravia of Barnstable spoke to the Commission about her struggle in trying to afford childcare as a single mother of four children, one of whom is autistic. She was forced to relocate due to financial constraints, which were compounded by the high costs of childcare.”

And: (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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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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Oregon has scored a huge victory for its children — and set an example that other states should study – by enacting the Student Success Act, which will invest $2 billion in education, with 20 percent ($400 million) allocated for early education.

“…now we can finally invest in an education system to empower every single student on the path to realizing their dreams for the future,” Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in a Tweet.

To finance this investment, Oregon will create a tax “on businesses that bring in at least $1 million in sales each year. They’d pay $250 and a point-five-seven-percent 0.57% tax. According to the Legislative Revenue Office in the capital, less than 10% of Oregon’s 460,000 businesses would pay the tax,” KOBI-TV reports.

This historic work is “the culmination of a legislative process that began more than a year ago when the Joint Committee On Student Success toured the state to learn more about what kids in Oregon need to succeed,” according to the Children’s Institute, a nonprofit organization founded by philanthropists and business community members.

“At every stop along the way, the message was clear: K–12 can’t do it alone. If we want to improve outcomes for Oregon’s students, we must start by supporting the health and development of young children before they reach kindergarten.” (more…)

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Amy O’Leary

“Two of the questions that almost always come up are, ‘How did you go from being a preschool teacher to a director to a lobbyist?’ and ‘How did you get involved in policy and advocacy?’ ”

“I often respond first with, ‘I believe in learning by doing. So far I have been able to use the same skills I needed to captivate 5-year-olds at circle time to engage with legislators at the state house.’ I want early educators to believe that they are leaders and can do anything.”

“As I share my story, I am also thinking about LEAP—the Leadership Empowerment Action Project—which helped to provide an incredible foundation in advocacy and policy to me and to early educators across Massachusetts and the country.”

 

“From Our President. On the Journey to Leadership and Empowerment,” by Amy O’Leary, director of the Early Education for All Campaign at Strategies for Children and president of the NAEYC Governing Board, Young Children, May 2019

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Award winners.

 

Parents are a powerful part of education. They help their own children. They volunteer and help other people’s children. And earlier this month, parents who are connected to the Head Start and Child Services programs at the Boston, anti-poverty agency ABCD, got a celebratory nod of recognition at a Parent Training & Recognition Breakfast.

The event’s keynote speaker was Amy O’Leary, director of the Early Education for All campaign here at Strategies for Children.

“Parents can change the world,” Amy says, “and that’s why engaging them in their children’s education is so important.”

“Research has shown that when parents are engaged in their children’s lives and education it benefits both parent and child now and in the long term,” according to an excerpt from ABCD’s parent handbook. “Based on this rich body of research, we know that we need an ongoing commitment from parents and families in each of our centers.”

In her keynote speech, Amy encouraged parents to make their voices heard.

Her message: “WE Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For.” Parents can become leaders in early education and care. (more…)

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