At BTWIC, we have spent the past year hosting small forums across the state, to convene “Family, Friend, and Neighbor” (FFN) providers and learn more about their needs and support requirements. To further disseminate and integrate this information, we are holding a free conference at the UMass Boston Campus Center on June 6, 2015.
The average cost to put an infant in formal care in Massachusetts is roughly $16,500 (Washington Post), and a 2015 report entitled “Status of Women in the States” found that the median salary of a woman working full-time in Massachusetts is $48,500. This means that the average working mom in Massachusetts spends nearly 1/3 of her paycheck on child care. Again, using the data in “Status of Women in the States”, we can see that, nationwide, women are nearly twice as likely to work part-time as men, and 93.9% of women surveyed cited “Child Care Problems” as a main reason for their work status.
For many households, center- or family-based early education programs are only part of the solution. Indeed, only 25% of the children under 4 in Massachusetts are enrolled in a public early education program. Although the state provides approximately 55,000 vouchers for eligible children, many families from a variety of income brackets turn to relatives and friends to help ease the burden of child care. These individuals are considered as “Informal Care” providers, or “Family, Friend, and Neighbor” (FFN) providers, and they play an important part in the early education system.
Child Care Aware’s 2014 report “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care” notes that, nationwide, 52% of children spend some amount of time in an informal care setting. With the recent push to ensure that children enter kindergarten “ready to learn”, it becomes even more vital to ensure that these providers are able to access available tools that give the children in their care developmentally appropriate play activities to boost literacy and numeracy at a young age. This is why we hope to reach a good group of informal caregivers with this effort. If you’d like to help, please download the embedded flyers and share them with your network! If you would like to register, please visit btwic.org/bostonforum. We look forward to seeing you on June 6!
The Senate Ways and Means Committee has now released its budget, and now is the time for all early education supporters to contact their Senators and urge them to act! The Put MA Kids First has published an article that crystallizes the budget outcomes as they stand – plainly put, we have lost ground. The House budget approved a $5 million increase to the rate reserve, which would help early educators earn equitable wages, but the Senate budget cut that number to $2.5 million. And while the House budget appropriated $4 million for quality improvement measures, the Senate budget has removed that provision, leaving $0 for quality.
This begs the question: what good is access without quality?
Although the Senate budget affords $12 million for access to move (how many) children off the waiting list for vouchers, without associated improvements to quality of care our youngest learners are hardly better off, to say nothing of the early education workforce that supports them. Programs are already stretched to the limits, and centers are closing due to lack of structural support from the state.
Take some time today to contact your Massachusetts Senators and tell them to support Amendments EDU 547 and EDU 601. These amendments would raise the Rate Reserve to $15,200,000 and restore the $4,000,000 in QRIS improvements proposed by the House budget. If you need assistance finding your legislator, click here to be brought to malegislature.gov , where you can search by name or location.
Don’t wait – the children of Massachusetts are counting on you!
It’s National Teacher Appreciation Week, and we would like to give a special “thank you” to all the early education professionals out there! We are glad that your work is becoming recognized as an important part of the pipeline, and we urge you to think of yourself in that light! Your work builds lives, just as a construction worker builds a high-rise, and everyone knows that the foundation is the most important part of any structure. Where would we be without you?
If you are a parent of one of the 220,000 children in care at one of the Massachusetts’ 8,800 centers, be sure to take some time this week to show your gratitude. You could buy a small gift, tell them where to get free swag, or simply take to social media to share an inspirational tale, using the hashtag “ThankATeacher”. As Sarah of This Here Now writes, your voice can “… help change the tone of negativity so often dealt to my profession. Help tell the story this week of what teachers really do.”
We’ll look forward to following along!