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A series featuring communities that have a plan to expand preschool.
A preschool class at Little People’s College that engages in community partnerships with local police.

A preschool class at Little People’s College that engages in a community partnership with local police.

There are 7,805 children under age 6 living in New Bedford. A young child raised in our city is more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line as an average Massachusetts child (38 percent versus 17 percent).

If it were funded, New Bedford’s Preschool Expansion Strategic Plan would, over a two-year period, add 10 new full-day preschool classrooms for children ages 2.9-5 years in four preschool centers and one public school.  Located throughout the city, these new classrooms would be supplemented with  comprehensive services for 200 children. These services would include speech evaluations, special education referrals, mental health services and screening for child development, as well as health, hearing, vision, and dental services. 

Family Advocates would provide parents and children with the necessary referrals. The program would serve children of all abilities, and it would be free of charge to parents.

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Source: Representative Alice Peisch’s Twitter page

There’s promising news for early educators in the House’s budget proposal. The developing budget would give early educators a much-needed salary increase.

The Boston Globe reports: “‘We’re at a tipping point,’ said DeLeo, citing the many underpaid and unqualified workers who tend to the state’s youngest students. ‘It’s a workforce which, quite frankly, I believe is in crisis.’”

“There are about 90,000 early childhood teachers in the state, who earn a median annual salary of around $25,000 — just $700 above the federal poverty level for a family of four.”

In addition, House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) “plans to file a bill to expand professional development for early educators to bolster a system he described as ‘in crisis,’” according to the State House News Service.

DeLeo points to a troubling paradox, WWLP reports. While more pre-school teachers are needed in classrooms, “fewer people are pursuing careers in education.” Continue Reading »

 

What makes communities strong?

“For many families a good place to live is a community that provides for the safety and healthy development of its children,” CEDAC’s executive director, Roger Herzog, says in the video.

The video was produced by Boston-based CEDAC (the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation) and its affiliate, the Children’s Investment Fund.

“Numerous studies show that high-quality early care and education has a unique capacity to prepare low-income children for future academic and lifetime success,” Herzog adds. “The key phrase is high-quality.”

Nurtury, a state-of-the-art early learning facility in Jamaica Plain, is featured in the video, as is Representative Jeffrey Sanchez (D-Boston), who discusses how important Nurtury was to him and his family when he was a child.

The video also touches on a policy victory, the Early Education and Out-of-School-Time Capital Fund, which provides funds to improve physical early education and out-of-school-time facilities.

To learn

• watch the video

• check out the Children’s Investment Fund website, or

• read about some of the Children’s Investment Fund’s work in a report about building strong pre-K programs

“So here’s a radical idea: How about we listen to the people who can benefit the most from getting engaged in early education: low-income parents?

“In the fall of 2016, Wilder Foundation researchers did exactly that.”

“When asked ‘which early education program features sticks in your mind as the single most important for you and your family?’ two items rose to the top. The first most important feature parents named was full-day, full-year, multi-year services. The second was quality of care, in terms of a program’s ability to prepare children for kindergarten.

“This is encouraging news, because the same features that parents want are, according to the best available research, also the things that children need to get ready for kindergarten.”

“What kind of early-education help do low-income parents want?” by Sondra Samuels and Barb Fabre, MinnPost, January 30, 2017

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Early childhood education (ECE) has strong public and legislative support. The challenge is paying for it.

In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh has called for using tourism dollars to finance an expansion of preschool. Philadelphia is using a beverage tax.

Now a new brief – “Innovative Financing for Early Childhood Education” — highlights a number of different funding approaches.

Finding up-front financing is crucial, because investments in early education end up paying off. As we’ve blogged, the return on investment can be as high as $13 for every $1 spent.

“Our group proposes specific action to expand upon what is ‘right’ with existing tax policy and to create new incentives that promote state, local and private collaboration,” the brief says. It was released by the Early Childhood Education Action Tank, a coalition that includes Save the Children Action Network and the First Five Years Fund as well as financial and business institutions. Continue Reading »

Foreground: Representative Claire Cronin (D-Plymouth) speaking to Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Background: TeeAra Dias, Preschool Expansion Grant Project Manager, Boston Public Schools.

Foreground: Representative Claire Cronin (D-Plymouth) speaking to Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Background: TeeAra Dias, Preschool Expansion Grant Project Manager, Boston Public Schools.

 

“We now know there are more kids in more programs, but clearly not enough, clearly not enough,” Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children, told the 100 participants at a meeting that was held last month in downtown Boston for the community teams from across Massachusetts that are focused on expanding preschool opportunities for children and families.

We’re including audio clips and photos from the event in this blog post.

 

Strategies for Children’s Amy O’Leary presents a brief history of state policy for early education and care.

 

Each team had received either federal Preschool Expansion Grant funds to add high-quality preschool seats (5 communities); state-funded preschool planning grants (13 communities); or both. Combined, these communities are Athol, Boston, Brockton, Cape Cod, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Springfield, Somerville, and Worcester. Continue Reading »

 

“Hundreds of supporters gathered at the Indiana State House to convince lawmakers to invest more money to help families pay for Pre-K.

“A number of advocates spoke, as well as top Indiana lawmakers, including house speaker Brian Bosma.

“The rally was organized by a group called All IN 4 Pre-K.

“Members say right now there are 27,000 low income 4-year-olds in Indiana who aren’t enrolled in Pre-K.

“The state started a pilot program, and plans to invest $50 million this year to expand it.

“Lawmakers say the $50 million dollar investment will put 7,000 Hoosier kids in Pre-K.

“Right now, Indiana currently spends $12 million dollars to help low-income families use Pre-K.”

“Hundreds gather to get more investments in Pre-K,” WISHTV.com, January 25, 2017

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