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Archive for the ‘Strategies for Children’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the House Committee on Ways and Means released a $42.7 billion state budget for fiscal year 2020. In his letter to members, Chairman Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) highlighted investments in early education.

“Under the leadership of Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Massachusetts has prioritized the field of early education and care, investing in both access and quality,” Michlewitz wrote. “This budget continues these historic investments, including another $20 million rate reserve for early educators, which will help to raise salaries allowing education providers to recruit and retain high quality staff. This funding ensures Massachusetts’s youngest residents will receive the best possible care from experienced teachers during their most formative years.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

Early education programs across Massachusetts have used federal Preschool Expansion Grants (PEG) to add more seats and serve more than 800 additional children annually. But now these programs – located in Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield — face a tough question: What happens next year after their PEG grants run out?

Boston is taking proactive steps. Mayor Marty Walsh has announced a plan to invest $15 million over five years to ensure high-quality pre-K for all 4-year-olds in the city.

In other communities, PEG grants have had a great deal of local success. The grants have supported some of the highest quality preschool classrooms in the state.

These benefits were highlighted yesterday, at a meeting of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) where researchers from Abt Associates summarized the most recent PEG program evaluations. A video of the Board meeting is posted here. It starts at 34:32. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

Across Massachusetts, communities are ready to expand their high-quality preschool programs.

All they need is more state funding.

And with budget season in full swing, now is a great time to ask the Legislature to invest well and wisely in early education and care.

Communities have been waiting for preschool funding for several years. In 2016, “thanks to state-funded planning grants,” 13 Massachusetts communities developed preschool expansion plans, as Titus DosRemedios explains in this Alliance for Early Success blog post. DosRemedios is Strategies for Children’s director of research and policy. He adds:

“The grants piggyback off of Massachusetts’ federal Preschool Expansion Grant, which provides high-quality full-day, full-year preschool to more than 850 four-year-olds annually in five cities.”

Since 2016, the list has grown to 18 communities, thanks to two more rounds of preschool planning grants from the Department of Early Education and Care that were funded in the FY17 and FY18 state budgets. (more…)

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Interns are an important part of our community here at Strategies for Children. They bring fresh eyes and new ideas, and they enable us to extend our reach in the work we do with communities and legislators.

Currently, we have four interns whom we’re happy to introduce: Vivian Terkel-Gat, Annapurna Ayyappan, Marisa Fear, and Casey Peeks. Here’s a little more about each of them.

 

Vivian Terkel-Gat

Vivian Terkel-Gat

I am currently a student in the Graduate Program of Gender, Policy, and Leadership at the University of Massachusetts Boston. I received a master’s degree in Educational Counseling for Early Education from Tel-Aviv University. In Israel, I worked for the Ministry of Education for 15 years as an educational counselor.

As a graduate intern with Strategies for Children, I research local governance models in different states. This research helps inform Strategies’ local Community Readiness initiative as well as its state-level advocacy and policy agenda for high-quality early education.

During my Strategies internship, I have learned about Massachusetts’ complex early education system. I have also learned about how advocacy works on the local and state level: how organizations form coalitions and work together to achieve mutual goals. Amy and Titus welcomed my participation in community meetings and at various events that Strategies has hosted. They also answered my many questions about early education and helped me choose a topic for a policy brief that I wrote. My internship has been an insightful experience. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Here at Strategies for Children, we want to say thank you to Tom Weber. He has announced that he will step down as commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) in June.

“We are grateful for Tom Weber’s commitment as Commissioner of Early Education and Care. During his six years as commissioner, he led EEC out of its historic fiscal low point, which was caused by the effects of the Great Recession,” Chris Martes, Strategies’ president and CEO, says in a statement.

“Since 2013, Massachusetts has made steady progress on early education, and thanks to Commissioner Weber’s leadership, the early education and care field is in a much stronger position, both fiscally and programmatically. We have seen increased public investments in the early education workforce, in program quality, and in preschool expansion during his tenure. He is a tireless advocate for young children and families, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

At a recent meeting of the Early Education and Care Workforce Council, The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) announced the recipients of the fiscal year 2019 preschool expansion grants.

Known as Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (CPPI), the program awarded funding to six communities: New Bedford, Somerville, North Adams, Springfield, Lowell, and Boston. The funds will support preschool programs from February 1 through June 30, 2019. EEC expects to renew these grants in fiscal year 2020.

This round of preschool expansion is funded with state dollars. However, more state funds will be needed in FY2020 to meet the demand for preschool funding from other communities. A total of 12 communities applied for the CPPI grant, and at least three additional communities wanted to apply but didn’t because of their limited time and capacity to meet the January 4th deadline. (more…)

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“It’s like getting the band back together,” Pat Haddad (D-Somerset), Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, said of herself and some her colleagues who gathered at the State House on Tuesday for “Looking Back to Look Forward,” a Strategies for Children celebration of the tenth anniversary of An Act Relative to Early Education and Care, which became law in 2008.

Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Haddad

Sponsored by Haddad and Senator Robert Antonioni (D-Leominster) and signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick, the new legislation was a bright step forward. It officially established Massachusetts’ Universal Pre-K (UPK) program, and outlined the responsibilities of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and for its board and commissioner.

“We had to block out some of the people who were naysayers,” Haddad said at the Looking Back event. But now, she explained, more and more legislators understand that building a universal pre-K program is “the right thing to do.”

The Legislature has never been able to fully fund UPK, but it has made progress, investing in scholarships for early educators and leveraging the power of federal preschool grant funds. (more…)

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