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    DECEMBER 2015
Workforce in Crisis

At its December 8 meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care heard a full hour of testimony from early educators and administrators from across the commonwealth, all with the same message: the early childhood workforce has reached a crisis point. Educators shared their personal stories about their passion, commitment to continuous learning and to the important work they do each day. They also highlighted the struggles they face staying in a field that is severely underpaid and undervalued.

The median early educator salary—between $22,501 and $25,000—is often lower than one would earn working full time in the fast food industry, as some educators attested to the Board, and far short of a livable wage in Massachusetts.

Recent research has shown that 37% of Massachusetts early educators receive some form of public assistance, indicating that there is a substantial public cost for inadequate workforce compensation.

The testimony had an impact. The EEC Board revised their original recommendation and voted to increase rates and quality support funding in its aspirational FY17 budget proposal to the Baker Administration.

Visit our partners at Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children for a recap of the Board meeting, and the Put MA Kids First Coalition and Eye on Early Education for additional voices from the field. Contact Laura Healy if you know an early educator that would like to tell their story. 
Child Care Unaffordable for Families

While wages for the early education workforce remain low, the cost of child care to families remains high. Child Care Aware reports that the average annual cost of care for two children (an Infant and a 4-year-old) totals $29,843 in Massachusetts.

“For many, the high cost of child care is one of the initial shocks of becoming a parent,” the report says. And sadly, the high cost of many child care programs does not guarantee high quality.

“Child care is an important part of the fabric of the country and a major support for parents and children,” Joan Lombardi, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress says in the report. “We need a new financing strategy that will significantly increase resources and provide a third party payment system to take the burden off hard pressed families and to allow improved compensation for those who care for our children.” Read more.

Communities Lead the Way

In Massachusetts, local communities are leading the way on early education, collaborating across programs, sectors and funding streams to build high-quality early childhood systems. Emerging models show great promise for sustainable and effective local work, supporting young children and preparing them for success in school.

New Bedford is one such community. Supported by EEC’s federally funded Birth–Grade Three alignment partnership grant, New Bedford’s early childhood practitioners have expanded kindergarten readiness programming, implemented joint professional development in early literacy and social-emotional learning, and begun designing a governance model to institutionalize and sustain city-wide collaboration in early childhood.

Cambridge and Holyoke are also expanding early education services and systems, and they are not alone. More than a dozen communities in Massachusetts are engaging in local B-5 or B-8 system-building efforts, often with the aid of state or federal planning grants.  

Policymakers, practitioners, and researchers should take notice of these efforts, and consider a “community” frame for strategic planning, investment, and evaluation. Traditional funding streams are designed to flow to programs, school districts, and families. But in the often “patchwork” B-5 sector, a whole-community approach may be best for achieving broad early childhood goals like UPK, kindergarten readiness, and third grade reading proficiency. We will continue to share updates from communities in the months ahead.

Check out our Eye on Early Education blog for recent stories you may have missed.

NAEYC Finds Widespread Public Support for Transforming Early Education, December 14

Data!, December 1

Bilingual Education Makes a Research-Based Comeback, November 18

A New Report Calls on Massachusetts to Modernize School Funding,
November 4

Housing Authorities are Key Partners in Early Education, November 2

The White House @WhiteHouse  Dec 10
"A Christmas miracle: A bipartisan bill signing right here." —@POTUS:  #ESSA

FirstFiveYearsFund @firstfiveyears  Dec 11
See How #ECE Came Out a Big Winner in #ESSA

The Alliance @4earlysuccess  Dec 12
Efforts need to be made to close the "word gap", especially in 0-3 @HuffPostEdu #Bthru8 #ECE #EarlyEd

Massachusetts EEC @MassEarlyEdCare  Dec 8
EEC Board meeting today: many speakers gave public comment on supporting #earlyed providers & families they serve.

Child Care Aware USA  @USAChildCare  Dec 8
The teachers who educate our youngest children are struggling to make ends meet:  #costofcare #PreK #childcare

Early Years ‏@EarlyYearsEW  Dec 4
Poll: Voters Support Higher Pay for Early Educators  #earlychildhood

Kim Driscoll ‏@MayorDriscoll  Nov 17
Big thanks to @MassGovernor on his work supporting @Gatewaycities + recognizing a strong state needs thriving cities

EarlyEducationForAll @EarlyEd4All  Oct 27
Great blog, lessons from pre-k research in TN, UT, GA, NC via @ncecf & @EducationNC: #Bthru8 #earlyed

MAFairShare @MAFairShare Apr 24
85 Mass. economists join call to support early education  @putmakidsfirst #investinUS #mapoli



notes from Amy

As 2015 draws to a close, we want to thank you for your continued support.

2016 looks to be an exciting year filled with many opportunities to make progress for young children in the commonwealth.

It has never been clearer that the early education and care sector is in need of significant public investment. The workforce is struggling to make ends meet, as are many parents of young children.

As the Losing Ground research report stated back in 2005, “Parents can’t afford to pay, teachers can’t afford to stay, there’s got to be a better way.”
Not much has changed in ten years.  We must find a better way.

There are opportunities all around us - at the federal, state, and local levels.
We know that our elected officials want to help and make good decisions. They want to invest in early education. But they also face challenges in finding new, dedicated revenue sources with which to make these investments.

That’s why your advocacy is so important, and will be critical in the months ahead. We must keep sending the message that high-quality early education is essential to the future of the commonwealth.

So, take some time to recharge, refresh and recommit to using your voice. We will need to work together to send a clear message to our elected officials, to make meaningful investments in young children, families, and the early education workforce.

Thank you for your leadership. 

Wishing you peace, health and joy in 2016!


617.330.7380           400 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02110 
Strategies for Children works to ensure that Massachusetts invests the resources needed for all children, from birth to age five, to access high-quality early education programs that prepare them for success in school and life.