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MA Leaders Rally for Early Education and Care

Today’s article from the Boston Globe seems to hiMA_kidst the right note: “legislators and corporate leaders are working together to increase quality of and access to early education and care”. BTWIC thanks House Speaker Robert DeLeo for being a true champion, harnessing the power of Boston’s strong business sector on behalf of young children across the Commonwealth. We have long held that early education and care is a community issue, one that affects all tiers of the economy, and it is heartening to see this work being done.

The attached graphic, and much of the article itself, focuses on children ages 3 to 5 – “Pre-K”, as it is formally known. Even the annual cost of a private-pay program (quoted as $12,800), is Child Care Aware‘s average figure for four-year-olds. An infant in care runs a family just over $17,000/year, for comparison.

Indeed, brain science has shown that rapid development occurs in the first months and years after birth, up to 700 new neural connections each second, largely through a “serve and return” process of interaction with a primary caregiver. This interaction is so important that, by 24 months old, disparities in vocabulary can become apparent among children from families of varying income.

Speaker DeLeo has heard this message, and understands the need for a quality workforce to support the healthy growth and development of young children of all ages, from all backgrounds. We are fortunate that the field has such a strong leader in the Massachusetts legislature.

Contact your State Senator!

action-alert-image ACTION ALERT!

Please contact your state Senator and tell him or her to support Senator Michael Moore’s amendment to increase the early education and care rate reserve (1599-0042), as well as Senator Linda Dorcena Forry’s amendment to reinstate the $2M grant for QRIS (3000-1020)! If you don’t know who represents your district, visit wheredoivotema.com to find out.

The children of Massachusetts thank you!

PMKF Action Alert!

action-alert-imageTake action now – tell your Massachusetts State Representatives to sign on to Amendment #1103 (Sponsored by Rep. Scibak) and Amendment #1209 (Sponsored by Rep. Livingstone). These two amendments will help stabilize and strengthen the early education and care and out-of-school time workforce in FY’17!

PMKF Action Alert!.

Early Education on Boston’s North Shore

56bbc3a2f1598.imageAs of December 2015, according to an article by Carl Gustin and Tom Zarrella’s op-ed in the Salem News, “Just 38 percent of 3 year olds and 66 percent of 4 year olds in the United States are in some kind of preschool, which ranks the United States only 32nd out of 39 countries in the Organization for Economic Development.” This low rate of enrollment is especially disconcerting given that “The most comprehensive study of preschool effectiveness, judged over 40 years, demonstrated that children who attend preschool were more likely to graduate from high school, get better paying jobs, and be less likely to get in trouble with the law.” Additionally, “The study found that a $15,000 investment in a preschool student produced savings of $220,000 in avoided welfare and other social spending.”

Gustin again came to our attention last week, having penned a keen op-ed for the Gloucester Times. We took to Twitter:

The quotes were so universal – we hear the same stories here in Boston and across the state:

And the reason for these early education teacher vacancies seems to always be the same:

Unfortunately for everyone,

We were pleased, most of all, to see that our convesation drew the attention of others:

Let’s keep the conversation going – online and in-person – early education and care is too important to leave behind.

Carl Gustin and Tom Zarella are on the Board of Directors of Pathways for Children.

Comments on the State CCDF Plan

While demand for spots in high-quality centers is on the rise, the number of operating child care businesses has declined. Many centers cannot afford to pay their staff a living wage, and their staff are the foundation to quality. 37% of educators are on some form of public assistance, and the result is a turnover rate near 30%. It is the most vulnerable of our children who are impacted. We see an opportunity to expand and enhance quality as Massachusetts submits its upcoming Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) State plan.

From the National Center for Children in Poverty: “CCDF subsidies assist low-income families with the cost of child care so that they may work or prepare for employment. Assistance is provided in the form of either a contracted child care slot or a voucher that may be used to access care by any provider that meets state requirements.”

The federal government recommends that states reimburse providers at the 75th percentile, but rates in Massachusetts have remained substantially lower than that.

On January 15, the Put MA Kids First Coalition submitted a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care with comments on the state plan. In it, we urged the Department to:

Raise base reimbursement rates,
Guarantee continuity of care for all children receiving subsidies for a minimum of 12 months,
Provide lingustically competent information to individuals with limited English proficiency.

We believe that implementing these changes would have a powerful impact on outcomes for children across the Commonwealth.

Click here to read the letter.

URGENT: Action Needed for Early Education and Care in MA!

action-alert-imageEarlier today, House Labor & Workforce Chairman John Scibak issued an Early Education Priority letter to House Members urging them to sign onto the below-copied letter. Please reach out to your Massachusetts State Representative(s) today and ask them to make the Early Education Workforce a priority by signing on! Interested House members may contact Joe Beebe in Chairman Scibak’s office at (617) 722-2030.

For a list of MA State Legislators, their districts, and their contact information, visit www.putmakidsfirst.org/contact-ma-legislators, or click the button to the left.
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MA Board of Early Education and Care: 12.8.15 Meeting

We would like to thank the MA Board of Early Education and Care for prioritizing the workforce in its FY17 budget recommendation. Many providers and educators provided powerful testimony on the current need to stabilize wages for the field. The Board’s advocacy for quality shows that our message was heard. For those who could not attend the meeting, below please find highlights:

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

We all know the downsides to a career in the early education and care field – the low wages, the high turnover – but there is also some GOOD news for early educators, particularly if you hold a bachelor’s degree and have student loans.

What? Yes!

If you are employed by a government or not-for-profit organization, including licensed or regulated child care, Head Start, and state-funded pre-K, you may be able to receive loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. There are a lot of qualifiers: your loans must be in good standing, you must have made 120 payments (i.e. over 10 years, beginning with payments starting in 2007), and you must have worked full-time in a qualifying institution for the duration of that 10-year time period. So this is not a program for everyone. For those who meet the requirements, or those who would like to start working towards meeting them, it could mean forgiveness of your Direct Loan balance beginning in October 2017!

For more information on student loans (getting them, managing them, paying them), visit our Student Loan Information Network. Click the image below to be taken to the official Twitter account of the Office of Federal Student Aid.

FAFSA_PublicService_LoanForgiveness

 

“Eating to Learn” Report – Released!

BTWIC-CACFP-ReportWe were so pleased with the turnout at our “Eating to Learn” reception last night. The report examined participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program in early education settings across the state. The event was attended by a wonderful group of supporters, along with Chef Barbara Lynch. She spoke with ease about her time growing up in Boston and her belief in the importance of “real food” for kids. We are honored that she took time out of her busy schedule to spend the evening with us.

Our presentation of findings highlighted key facts from the report, for example, that there are as many as 242 Center-Based early education and care programs in Gateway cities across Massachusetts that do NOT particpate in CACFP – this represents a total of 5,000 (or more) children that are not being served by the program.

For more on the report, read the Boston Globe article, or head straight over to our website
! We hope you find it informative, and we would appreciate your sharing it widely.

BTWIC State House Testimony

EEC
 
 
BTWIC’s Kira Taj submitted testimony on behalf of the birth-to-school-age continuum at this morning’s Joint Committee on Education hearing. Education Secretary James Peyser and Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber (pictured left) also offered their strong advocacy of quality early education and care for all children as well as support for the early educators themselves – the backbone of the system.

 

Click here to read our testimony!