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This week we are focusing on the early education workforce, and we wanted to share a new resource from the think tank New America.

In December, New America released “Transforming the Early Education Workforce: A Multimedia Guidebook.”

Using video, text, a questionnaire, and other tools, the guidebook builds on the landmark 2015 workforce report released by the National Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.

“Each state, community, and program is starting at different place,” New America explains. “Without guidance, taking on this work can feel overwhelming. Continue Reading »

“We will build on the House’s ongoing commitment to providing high-quality early education and care, in large part by supporting our EEC workforce. This means developing an action plan to build a sustainable workforce development system… one that is responsive to the distinct needs of the EEC field.

“We know that the EEC years provide a unique opportunity for us to impact learning outcomes for children.

“We also know that it is an equally vital time for addressing mental health. I am currently working with the Chairs of Education and Mental Health, as well as the Child Advocate, to coordinate efforts as we again prioritize children’s long-term social, emotional and academic success by investing in early childhood mental health services.”

From a speech by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, January 31, 2018

To read the entire speech, click here.

For news coverage of the speech, click here.

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Early education is making local news thanks to Backyard Cambridge, a podcast launched last year by two Cambridge residents “to strengthen local news and civic engagement.”

This month the podcast covers universal pre-K.

As the story points out, finding the right pre-K program can be like walking into an overcrowded mall with no directory. There are private programs and public programs; vouchers and full-pay options; and child care centers, family child care, and school-based programs.

Money also matters. Parents who can spend more of their income on child care can also afford to hire nannies. Cambridge’s public schools offer “junior kindergarten,” for 4-year-olds, but only for half of the ones who live in the city.

Why should anyone care? Continue Reading »

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.  Continue Reading »

“… to help the next generation of students get off to a good start, we delivered, with your support, one of the largest increases in funding for early childhood education in over a decade in our 2018 budget.

“All in, we’ve increased state spending on early education rates, delivering a $45 million wage increase for teachers.”

Governor Charlie Baker, State of the Commonwealth Address, January 23, 2018

Photo: Alastair Pike, Office of Governor Charlie Baker. Source: Governor Baker’s Flickr page.

On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, Governor Charlie Baker unveiled a $40.9 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2019. This would be a 2.6% increase over current spending levels.

In his State of the Commonwealth speech, Governor Baker highlighted recent investments in the early education and care workforce: “To help the next generation of students get off to a good start, we delivered, with your support, one of the largest increases in funding for early childhood education in over a decade in our 2018 budget. All in, we’ve increased state spending on early education rates, delivering a $45 million wage increase for teachers.”

The governor’s budget provides a $13.62 million increase for early education and care, primarily through EEC’s two access accounts: Supportive and TANF (3000-3060) and Income Eligible (3000-4060). The budget does not include a separate rate reserve for early educator salaries. Preschool planning grants were not funded. 

Visit the Strategies for Children’s website for budget details. The House of Representatives is currently working on its budget, due out in April. Contact your state representative to advocate for increased investments in high-quality early education.

For more information and advocacy opportunities, contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org, (617) 330-7387.

Now that more and more people are talking about high-quality preschool programs, it’s important to make sure that they know what high-quality means.

One way to share that message is to educate journalists who write about preschool programs. If they understand more about preschool, they’ll do a better job of informing their audiences.

So, the next time you talk to a journalist, be sure to talk about what quality is — and what it isn’t — and be sure to share resources that illustrate your point.

One resource is a recent New York Times Magazine story about Kejo Kelly, an early educator in Springfield, Mass. As we’ve blogged, this story delves deeply into quality.

Another resource is “The Most Important Year: Pre-kindergarten and the Future of Our Children,” a book by Massachusetts-based writer Suzanne Bouffard.

Bouffard’s book is featured in another useful resource, an article on the Education Writers Association’s website called, “What Reporters Should Look for in Early Learning Settings: Lectures don’t work well for young children. Look instead for child-directed fun.” Continue Reading »

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