PMKF Staff

Don’t Miss the BTWIC Soiree Tomorrow Night!

April 6, 2016 | 6:00 p.m.
The Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center

Please join Co-Hosts William Kennedy (Partner, Nutter McClennen & Fish, LLP. Attorneys At Law) and James Rooney (President of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce) the Board of Trustees of the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children (BTWIC) and President and CEO, Marie St. Fleur, for a salute to long-time champions: the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation and the Mabel Louise Riley Foundation. Join us for wonderful food and drink, as well as live music from the Boston Children’s Chorus.

Get tickets here! 

BTW16001_Invitation_FINAL3

 

MASSCAP: Community Action Agencies Call for ECE Funding Increases

COMMUNITY ACTION AGENCIES CALL FOR INCREASED FUNDING FOR EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT, FUEL ASSISTANCE, EARLY EDUCATION & TO ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS IN FY17 BUDGET

Written by Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP)

CONTACT: Suzanne Morse, smorse@oneillandassoc.com, O: 617-646-1020

March 24, 2016

COMMUNITY ACTION AGENCIES CALL FOR INCREASED FUNDING FOR EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT, FUEL ASSISTANCE, EARLY EDUCATION & TO ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS IN FY17 BUDGET

Boston, Mass. (March 24, 2016) – At a legislative briefing today, the Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP), a statewide association that represents the Commonwealth’s 23 Community Action Agencies (CAAs), urged state senators and representatives to increase funding in the FY17 budget for programs that assist early education teachers and homeless families and individuals. Additionally, at the “Call to Action” event, MASSCAP leaders asked legislators to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, to support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs that many CAAs administer, and to provide direct state funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“We know that the programs we administer help prevent thousands of Massachusetts citizens from slipping into poverty,” said Clare Higgins, executive director of Community Action of the Franklin, Hampshire and North Quabbin regions, and president of MASSCAP’s board of directors. “But we can also see that the funding necessary to ensure that we reach as many people as possible is not keeping pace.”

MASSCAP is advocating for a workforce rate increase to $40 million for early education teachers. Over the past few years, there has been little change in the base rates for early education teachers and as a result, there has been significant turnover of teachers and difficulty in attracting new talent to the field. Funding for this line item would help agencies retain good workers while encouraging new workers to apply in a broader effort to improve educational outcomes for young children.

The CAAs are also seeking $10 million in direct appropriations for the fuel assistance program. The federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) allocation for FY16 was reduced from $200 million allocated a few years ago to $144 million last year – an amount that causes most of the 200,000 vulnerable households to exhaust their fuel assistance benefit well before the winter ends. The benefit level covered, for example, less than one and one half of a tank of oil; a household needs at least three tanks to get through a typical New England winter.

MASSCAP is also asking for $120 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), which provides very low income households with assistance in paying their rent and helps create new affordable housing. MRVP helps maintain stable housing for the more than 7,000 elders, persons with disabilities, and low-income families and individuals that currently rely on it for a portion of their rent. With an average monthly income of just over $900, all of these tenants would be at risk of homelessness without this assistance. The program also helps approximately 3,000 additional families and individuals find homes, creating stable environments for people to succeed at work and for children to succeed in school.

The association is supporting an expansion of the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit by $72.5 million. Last year, MASSCAP advocated for a doubling of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 30 percent of the federal tax benefit for low-income families. The final FY16 budget included a 50 percent increase to 23 percent of the federal tax benefit, which was a significant improvement for many Massachusetts families. This year, the association is advocating for an expansion to 30 percent of the federal rate to continue the progress made in last year’s final budget.

Additionally, MASSCAP is proposing a new line item of $800,000 to support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs they administer during tax season. VITA works with low income tax payers so that they can benefit from the EITC. CAAs serve more than 17,000 low income tax payers and returns more than $30 million to the state through EITC and other tax credits.

“We appreciate the state legislators and their aides who took time out of their busy schedules today to hear about the ways the programs they fund help their low income constituents,” said Joe Diamond, MASSCAP’s executive director. “We are looking forward to working with them to making sure these priorities are reflected in this year’s budget.”

About MASSCAP

The Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP) is a statewide association of the 24 Community Action Agencies (CAAs) operating in Massachusetts. Through the combined skills and vision of its members, MASSCAP works to enhance the ability of each agency to better serve its clients. The organization works with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development and other state agencies to open doors to self-sufficiency for low-income Massachusetts residents. For more information, view the MASSCAP Fact Sheet (PDF).

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State House Advocacy Day Emphasizes Quality in Early Ed

EMPHASIS ON QUALITY RATHER THAN ACCESS AT EARLY EDUCATION EVENT

By Colin A. Young
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MARCH 24, 2016…..Speaking to an auditorium packed with early education providers, the House chair of the Legislature’s Education Committee urged them to “make the case for quality over access this year” to move closer to providing early education for all children.

“What I would like to encourage all of you to do … is to indicate that this year the priority is on quality and that means on the rates for the workforce as opposed to — and this is a difficult choice — increasing access,” Rep. Alice Peisch said. “Unfortunately, we’re not in position where we have unlimited funds and we can do both. That would be ideal.”

Peisch said she thinks there has not been a “realization of how desperate this field is in terms of the resources needed” and that bolstering the workforce is the first step to being able to provide universal early education.

“As long as we prioritize access over quality, we are doing two things: we are not able to provide the resources that we actually need to get quality and we’re seeing today that we actually cannot increase access because we can’t find the people to fill those positions,” she said.

Early education groups from around the state packed a State House auditorium Thursday to push for a $40 million investment in the early education workforce in the fiscal 2017 budget, which advocates said would raise early educator wages by 90 cents per hour and in turn address high levels of turnover among early educators.

The Coalition for Quality Early Education — a group that includes representatives from the Association for Early Education and Care, Massachusetts Head Start Association, Massachusetts YMCAs Association, Put Massachusetts Kids First and Strategies for Children — said the “1.2 or 1.3 percent increase” in funding for early educator salaries are “unacceptable.”

“I don’t think there’s anybody in this room that does not believe that there needs to be a major investment in our workforce. Let’s face it, our early education workforce is in crisis and there’s no question about it,” said Leo Delaney, president of the Massachusetts Association of Early Education & Care. “We cannot let this continue and the only way to fix this is to invest in our workforce and invest big.”

According to the coalition, the $40 million investment could raise the average hourly wage for an early educator from $12.25 to $13.10 an hour and advances entry-level teaching staff towards a minimum wage of $15 per hour by fiscal 2019.

Among early educators, the coalition said, staff turnover rates hover around 30 percent, and the churn of educators in the classroom hinders the quality of the education and care provided to children.

Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry addressed the crowd and noted that early education plays an important role for children, but also for adults and the state’s economy because it “allows parents to be able to work and do what they can to lift themselves out of poverty.”

In his annual address to the House in January, House Speaker Robert DeLeo renewed his push for “sustainable” reforms to the state’s early education framework. Early education generated a lot of discussion during the 2014 gubernatorial campaign but has not been a major debate topic during the 2015-2016 legislative session.

Local Officials Join with MA Fair Share to Call for Early Ed Investment

STATEMENT: 136 LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS JOIN WITH MASSACHUSETTS FAIR SHARE TO CALL FOR MORE INVESTMENT IN EARLY EDUCATION

Massachusetts Fair Share

CONTACT: Nathan Proctor, 203 522 3860

March 23, 2016

STATEMENT: 136 LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS JOIN WITH MASSACHUSETTS FAIR SHARE TO CALL FOR MORE INVESTMENT IN EARLY EDUCATION

Boston – Massachusetts Fair Share delivered a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 136 local elected officials that call for increased state investment in early education and care. Citing dropping levels of state funding, and the importance of ensuring all children start on a level playing field, the letter calls for additional funding to improve and expand early learning programs for children ages 0-5.

“We pride ourselves on education in Massachusetts, which is why we need to do better when it comes to early education. We know these earlier years can help set students up for a lifetime of success and have extremely high return on investment,” said Nathan Proctor, state director of Massachusetts Fair Share. “If we are serious about reducing the academic achievement gap, we need to make sure that every child starts kindergarten ready by making sure they can access high-quality early learning programs.”

Massachusetts Fair Share, along with the 60 other groups in the Put MA Kids First coalition, is calling for increased investments in early learning programs, anchored in a quality workforce. One of the top issues that the field of early education and care has identified is a dramatic drop in the number of early education programs, and alarmingly high turnover of the early educator workforce. Child Care Aware has tracked a 25% drop in the number of early education programs in Massachusetts since 2011. Wellesley College researchers point to a high early educator turnover rate of 30%. It’s clear that the field is suffering and in crisis.

The sign on letter is below. A full list of singers is available on our blog.

Strong Start for Massachusetts Children

Every child deserves a fair chance in life, and this begins with quality early education and care. Massachusetts should lead on education, but when it comes to early education, we’re falling behind. While states like Oklahoma guarantee a year of public preschool for every child, Massachusetts state spending on early education and care has declined by 50% since 2001.

Providing all children access to a high-quality early education is essential to creating a level playing field, so that no child starts kindergarten already behind. Participation in high-quality early learning programs helps children better realize their full potential, reduces the achievement gap and provides a strong foundation for future success.

I support increasing state investment in early education and care, in order to improve and expand programs for children ages 0-5 so that every child can access a high-quality early learning program.

Low salaries have preschool educators, providers, struggling

By Amelia Pak-Harvey, Lowell Sun, March 16, 2016

LOWELL — Jessica Danehy’s class is building “castles in the clouds” — blocks with shaving cream, an exercise to help with motor development.

By lunchtime last Wednesday morning, her 3- and 4-year-olds are exhibiting quaint social interaction skills.

“Can you pass the oranges?” one student says to another as they sit down for a family-style meal.

Emily Excobar spills the milk as she tries to pass it across the table. She obediently fetches a paper towel to wipe it up.

Danehy has a passion for her job as a lead teacher in her preschool class of 20 students at Community Teamwork Inc.’s early-childhood center on Phoenix Avenue.

But at only $17 an hour, she works another job as a bartender to keep up her payments — student loans, car insurance, the costs of life.

Her bartender pay can vary, but she said some nights she can rake in $200-$400.

“Everyone’s like, ‘Why don’t you just do that?’ ” Danehy said. “I don’t want to do that. I want to be here.”

Danehy’s salary as an early-childhood educator is at the center of a statewide push to increase the average salary to $27,250 a year.

It’s an issue, put forth by the Put MA Kids First Coalition, that has Community Teamwork Inc. struggling to fill jobs for its state-reimbursed program.

Read more!

Petition: a Strong Start for Every Child – Sign on Now!

 

 

From MoveOn.org: Every Child ion Massachusetts Deserves a Strong Start

Why is Massachusetts so far behind on early education? We know that early education and preschool helps set students up for a lifetime of achievement, and is an effective tool to address the achievement gap.

It’s time to undo repeated cuts to early education in Massachusetts and make sure that every child gets the same strong start. Please dramatically expand access and improve quality in early education in the budget.

Sign on today! 

Early Ed Advocacy Day March 24th!

Contact Your Legislators and Join Us for Advocacy Day!

Massachusetts state Representatives and Senators are currently meeting with leadership as they develop their budget priorities.  We need them to prioritize early educators in the FY17 state budget. Our elected officials need to hear from us.  Tell them now is the time to deliver on the promise we have made to support early educators and ensure high-quality early education for young children.

Click here to contact your legislators and advocate for increased investments in the early education and care workforce in the FY17 state budget.

Another way to get involved is to attend Advocacy Day at the State House on Thursday, March 24th in Gardner Auditorium. Registration will begin at 10:00 A.M. and the speaking program at 10:30 A.M. There will also be an opportunity to connect with your state legislators through legislative visits. We encourage you to share your own stories on Advocacy Day!

State Falling Behind in Early Ed Readiness

State falling behind in early education readiness

Wednesday, March 9 ,2016 – Daily Hampshire Gazette
by PMKF Member Nathan Proctor, State Director, Massachusetts Fair Share

“As Massachusetts leaders get set to work out the state budget, I’m hoping they can invest in early childhood education. We know that early education and preschool helps children do better in school and in life, but since 2001 we’ve seen a 50 percent decrease in the state’s commitment to early learning when factoring in inflation. These cuts have led to long waitlists for public early education programs and undermine quality. Nearly one in five early-education providers has shut its doors over the last five years. Due to underfunding, staff turnover is at or above 30 percent.

Massachusetts has long been a leader on education, but when it comes to early education we’re falling behind. It’s time for our state leaders to  invest in early education and make sure that every child gets the same strong start.”

Nathan Proctor

State Director
Massachusetts Fair Share

Take Action Now!

Thank our legislators for their work to support early education and care!