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During the summer months, young children who are homeless benefit from high-quality pre-K programs.

“Universal pre-K has been a gift to many Boston families,” the Boston Herald reports. “But for homeless and poor families, the end of the school year can be a burden that poses a difficult hardship.”

Without summertime pre-K, these children may not have anywhere to go during the day.

Fortunately, the local nonprofit Horizons for Homeless Children offers summertime opportunities.

The Herald tells the story of how one young mother, Itzamarie Torres, and her two sons, have relied on Horizons, saying of Torres:

“The 23-year-old single mom was pregnant and living in a shelter with her toddler son. It was a scary time, but she soon found housing, got a job, moved into an apartment and is now earning her GED at Roxbury Community College.

“She’s grateful for Horizons for Homeless Children, a nonprofit that runs three year-round early education centers in Roxbury, Dorchester and Jamaica Plain, and the stability it gives to her sons, Ayden, 4, and Adrian, 2.

“ ‘It’s wonderful. As a single mom, it’s very helpful,’ said Torres, who is happy the center is open in the summer. ‘I wouldn’t be able to work or go to school or do the things that I am doing now to further myself because I wouldn’t have anybody to watch them.’ ” Continue Reading »

 

Early education classrooms are bright and fun, but they’re not always open to young children with disabilities.

Massachusetts works hard to meet these children’s needs through its Early Intervention program, but a new paper – “Early Childhood Special Education in Massachusetts,” written by Strategies for Children interns Annapurna Ayyappan and Marisa Fear — points out that there’s room for the state to make improvements.

In 2014, the federal government addressed the problem with a policy statement jointly released by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that said in part:

“It is the Departments’ position that all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, where they are provided with individualized and appropriate support in meeting high expectations.”

Getting this work done in Massachusetts, Ayyappan and Fear write, is essential:

“Early childhood education has the potential to provide children with the positive experiences that will establish a strong foundation upon which they can grow… Early intervention for children with developmental delays or disabilities targets the brain at a time when its services can have the greatest positive effects.” Continue Reading »

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (center). Photo source: The City of New York


”The tentative agreement provides a pathway to pay parity between certified early childhood education teachers and entry-rate Department of Education salaries by October 1, 2021.”

“ ‘There are few things as valuable as early childhood education and our youngest New Yorkers deserve the very best,’ said Mayor de Blasio. ‘With this agreement, we’re ensuring whether you’re in one of our schools or teaching in a community based organization, you get the same starting salary. That means our kids and parents can rest assured that they’ll always have our best teachers in the classroom, helping our future leaders develop the skills they need to succeed.’ ”

“ ‘All NYC teachers deserve the same pay, the same benefits and the same respect, and when we provide pay parity in education, we provide better educational opportunities for our students,’ said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.”

 

“Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson Help District Council 1707 Local 205 and the Day Care Council of New York Reach Tentative Contract Agreement for Early Childhood Education Employees,” the Official Website of the City of New York, July 9, 2019.

 

Sometimes helping children, means helping their parents.

That’s what Roca, Inc., does. A nonprofit organization founded in Chelsea in 1988, Roca disrupts “the cycle of incarceration and poverty.”

Its approach? Relentless outreach.

That used to include a home-visiting program. But in 2012, Roca decided to take a more intensive approach with young moms who, its website says, are “not ready, willing and able to participate in work, school and traditional parenting and home visiting programs.”

“They have a history of intergeneration trauma,” Sunindiya Bhalla says of these mothers. “They have high ACES,” adverse childhood experiences, “and their children have high ACES.” Bhalla is Roca’s chief of 2Gen Strategy & Programming.

The Moms and children that Roca helps may be dealing with violence, trauma, gang involvement, or drug and alcohol use. Some have dropped out of high school. Some have limited English skills or no work history. Often, Bhalla says, no one is teaching these mothers how to be parents. Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

After weeks of delay, the six-member conference committee has released a fiscal year 2020, $43.1 billion state budget for Massachusetts.

The budget was bolstered by increased tax collections, and it includes a plan to control pharmaceutical drug costs, according to the State House News Service.

Where the House and Senate differ on the allocations for early education and care line items, this budget includes the higher funding amounts. This includes a $20 million rate increase (from the House budget), $5 million in preschool grants (from the Senate budget), and $5 million in workforce development grants (from the House). 

The Legislature passed the budget on Monday, July 22. Governor Baker now has 10 days to sign the budget into law. He can also make line item vetoes. 

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

For updates and a complete list of early education line items, visit Strategies’ state budget webpage.

“Sen. Sal DiDomenico recently testified before the Joint Committee on Education in support of his bill, S.265, An Act ensuring high-quality pre-kindergarten education. This legislation would expand preschool, using grants from the state, beginning with high-needs communities that are ready with a state-approved expansion plan.

“ ‘Across Massachusetts, people are ready for more preschool,’ said DiDomenico in his testimony before the Committee. ‘I have heard from countless parents who want this learning opportunity for their children, but often can’t afford it or are on waiting lists. Local communities, led by community-based programs, school districts, and mayors, have solid plans for preschool expansion and are waiting for new public dollars to begin implementation. That is why I filed this legislation, and I am confident this bill is an important next step towards improving and expanding high quality early education for our kids.’ ”

 

“DiDomenico Urges Action on High Quality Pre-K,” by Record Staff, Chelsea Record, July 18, 2019

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: Continue Reading »

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