Since 2001, state funding for community-based early education and care and out-of-school time has not kept pace with inflation, resulting in a reduction of more than $100 million – a 50% decrease in the state’s commitment to its youngest scholars. Strengthening community-based early education and care should be an integral part of the Commonwealth’s long-term plan to invest in human capital to support growth and quality goals.
For FY ’18 the Put MA Kids First Coalition supports:
- The fields’ request of $36.4 million for the early education and school age rate reserve (line item 1599-0042)
- Continued investment of $2.5 million for direct quality grants to early education and care programs (line item 3000-1020)
- Encouraging funding for the Department of Early Education and Care to meet its regulatory and support obligations.
Together these will:
- Helps to move the average early educator salary from $25,000 to $27,250
- Addresses the 30% early educator staff turnover rate that hinders quality
- Moves subsidy rates to the 50th percentile, increasing high-quality options for children
Overwhelmingly, current state investment levels place the brunt of the deficit in the early education and care and out-of-school time system on the shoulders of working women, who are often heads of households and living on the margins. Because median salaries stagnate around $25,000 a year, 37% of early educators are forced to rely on some form of public assistance. The funding levels requested above will continue our steady march towards a stronger effective and more equitable quality early education and care system in Massachusetts.
Please join us in making these recommendations a reality for the children of Massachusetts, their families and providers!
We are excited to announce that PMKF has resumed its role as a leading advocacy coalition dedicated to increasing the quality of our early education and care system to realize the best outcome for children. Our advocacy is anchored in the fact that a consistent, high skilled and well paid workforce is the foundation of a quality system. We are thrilled to have the continued leadership of former State Representative Marie St. Fleur as our spokesperson. – Stay tuned for a save the date notice for our next convening. Join Put MA Kids First!
The Put MA Kids First Coalition, a multi-year initiative led by CEO Marie St. Fleur of the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children, was formed in 2014 to bring together early education and care and out-of-school time organizations across the state to increase support for high quality learning.
Officially launched in January of 2015 with two-dozen members, the coalition successfully advocated for $6M in funding for early education programs in the FY2016 budget. The FY2016 budget included $5M for the early education and school-age salary rate reserve and $1M in grants directly to programs. As the FY2017 budget cycle comes to a close, the coalition has grown to 76 members and successfully advocated for $12.5M for the salary rate reserve and $2M in grants directly to programs – almost doubling the prior year’s investments.
As the Coalition’s work comes to a close, we wanted to take the time to thank the many people and organizations that have made our work possible.
First we would like to thank the six organizations and their leaders who provided over $40,000 to support the delivery of a focused communication strategy on 3 fronts traditional media, outreach to Business community and social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, the PMKF website and a newsletter: MADCA (William Eddy), Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs (Peter Doliber), Nurtury (Wayne Ysaguirre), Ellis Memorial (Leo Delaney), Wheelock College (Marta Rosa), and Mass Afterschool Partnership (Ardith Wieworka). these organization invested over $40K. This type of critical investment must continue to ensure the voice of early education is represented throughout the state.
We also want to acknowledge the work of Speaker Robert DeLeo and the Early Education Business Task Force, and the MA State Senate. The fields’ active engagement from every sector engendered the support and leadership of Speaker DeLeo. From his leadership and activism the interest of the Business Community in Massachusetts has begun to grow.
A big thanks also go out to Bob French and NorthStar Learning Centers, Nathan Proctor and Mass Fair Share, who responded to the call for action at very turn making sure that their local media was engaged and their local grass roots organizations informed. Recognition also goes to Slowey McManus for their early campaign consultation work, Beth Beard, PMKF’s Campaign Manager since October 2015 and all of the staff at BTWIC for their tireless efforts on behalf of Massachusetts children.
- Funding for early education more than doubled to support increased salaries and quality
- Members quadrupled from 24 to 76 (20% of whom are not educators), reaching over 10,000 MA residents
- Over 2,000 educators were reached across MA through over 15 professional development forums
- Almost 1,000 letters were sent to local legislators in support of early education and out of school time programs
- Letters to the editor and feature articles were published in more than a dozen state, metro and local new publications
- Engagement, visibility and awareness of these critical issues was increased among Massachusetts providers, families, legislators and leaders, quadrupling social media engagement and doubling website growth
Legislators restore $100 million to state budget
By Laura Crimaldi GLOBE STAFF JULY 24, 2016
House lawmakers Saturday restored about $100 million in spending that had been cut from the state budget by Governor Charlie Baker, who has said he slashed $412 million to keep Massachusetts finances in order amid a flat stock market and falling capital gains tax revenue.
During the rare weekend session, legislators voted to reinstate money to boost salaries for early education and preschool teachers, pay for voting programs, and reverse cuts to a range of state offices. The Senate also convened to consider some of Baker’s spending vetoes.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo said the spending plan endorsed by lawmakers remains conservative even with the overrides, noting that money was restored for programs like drug courts, special education, and poor families with children.
“We as a government, obviously, we have an obligation to support these types of services,” DeLeo said in a telephone interview. “It is all worthwhile spending matters that help us as a society and as a state.”
One vote restored $7.5 million to hike pay for educators of children in government-sponsored preschool programs.
The move was praised by Massachusetts Fair Share, which had pushed to get the money back into the budget.
“This is evidence that lawmakers see the need to invest in education,” said Nathan Proctor, state director for Massachusetts Fair Share.
He said the average yearly salary for teachers in the early-education field is $25,500.
“The first opportunity that early education teachers have, they obviously leave,” DeLeo said. “Many will go into any other field because we’re talking about salaries in the [$20,000 range].”
A Message from PMKF to Legislators
Thank you for working to override Governor Baker’s veto and preserve funding for early education and care in the FY’17 budget.
The Put MA Kids First coalition applauds the appropriation of $12.5 million for the early education and school age rate reserve (line item 1599-0042) and $2 million for direct quality grants to early education and care programs (in line item 3000-1020), the coalition’s top two priorities.
The Put MA Kids First coalition (putmakidsfirst.org), is a broad-based coalition of over 75 organizations across the Commonwealth focused on supporting quality early education and care and out-of-school time programs. Our goal is to secure the best outcomes for children in those settings. Because of your support many early educators are now on a pathway to receiving a living wage. Please continue to advocate for these wonderful educators.
Thank you for your support.
STATEMENT BY ATUL VARMA, CHAIRMAN OF BTWIC BOARD OF TRUSTEES of the BESSIE TARTT WILSON INITIATIVE FOR CHILDREN
JULY 25, 2016
Last Friday, July 22, The Board of Trustees of the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children voted unanimously to close the 14-year-old non-profit, a small research, engagement, and policy organization that has prided itself as the “voice of the voiceless” for low-income families desiring and deserving high-quality early education and care for their children.
The board’s difficult decision grew out of an increasingly competitive funding environment, the sustainability of the organization’s business model and the planned departure of its President and CEO and Senior Researcher by the first of August. The timing of the decision was driven by the increasingly difficult fundraising environment and the viability of continuing to operate for another year. In addition, the organization has nearly completed all the work it was funded for in FY16. While the organization will cease operations, we are confident BTWIC’s ground-breaking research and programs will live on through the support of providers, policy advocates and public officials committed to high-quality early education and care for children in Boston and throughout Massachusetts.
Launched in 2002, BTWIC was dedicated to furthering the work of Bessie Tartt Wilson, who in 1946 became the first woman of color to open a day care center in Roxbury when she launched Tartt’s Day Care Center, which continues to be run by her grandchildren today.
The leading-edge work done by BTWIC over the years included:
- Creating, and in collaboration with the City of Boston, Tech Goes Home and UMass Boston, a yearlong Early Education and Care Small Business Innovation Center, at Madison Park High School for Roxbury early education entrepreneurs.
- Founding Put MA Kids First, a 76-member collaborative to strengthen the early education and out-of-school-time care workforce.
- Launching Eating to Learn to reduce obstacles to provider participation in the federally funded Child and Adult Care Food Program.
- A series of ground-breaking studies that shed new light on the compensation, career ladder and student loan debt of the early education workforce; the under-use of the Massachusetts child care voucher; and alternative funding resources to help families pay for early education and care.
At the meeting board member Ken Reed, Tartt’s grandson, whose mother, Mary Reed, served as the organization’s long-time president after launching BTWIC in her mother’s memory stated that “though small, the BTWIC has spoken loudly in support of early education professionals and the vital role they play in child care and early education, particularly in low-income communities.” He added, “while this was a hard decision to make, it was the right time to draw BTWIC to a close.”
The board joins Mary Reed and Marie St. Fleur in praising the work of BTWIC’s small staff and its many partners – from funders to researchers to educators to providers – who offered critical support to BTWIC’s mission to conduct independent and operational research that identified deficiencies in the Massachusetts early education and care system. Collectively, their efforts helped implement solutions to ensure that underserved children enter kindergarten ready to learn.
The effective of date of closure is before the end of the third quarter. Efforts are currently underway to secure archival space for the work and research reports of BTWIC since the organization was founded in 2002.
First PMKF Boston Roundtable Great Success
Our first PMKF Community Roundtable facilitated by Community Organizer Nicole Perryman was held on Friday at the Mattahunt Community Center in Mattapan.
Panelists included Marie St. Fleur (Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children), Kymberly Byrd (Vital Village Network), Barbara Pierre (Mattahunt Community Center) and Laura Williams (Family Child Care).
Stay tuned for information on our next meeting!
Preschool teachers ask for salary raises despite Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto
“The average preschool teacher in Massachusetts earns just $25,500 a year. As a result, turnover in the field is high — around 30 percent each year.
“Every political leader talks about the need to have school readiness by kindergarten,” said William Eddy, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care, which represents early education programs. “If you can’t keep teachers, you’re not exactly helping the cause.”
Education advocates are asking lawmakers to override Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of $7.5 million for salary increases for preschool teachers who serve low-income children. The request comes as lawmakers prepare to take up $256 million in line item vetoes that Baker made to the fiscal year 2017 state budget. Requests from early educators will compete with requests from nursing home workers and from artists.
In early education, Baker vetoed $7.5 million for the salary increases, $9 million from the general childcare budget and another $1.3 million from several line items, including a child literacy nonprofit and a family mentoring pilot program.
Administration officials say the $9 million is money that education officials believe they can cut through “caseload reductions” without impacting core services. Officials point out that the early educators will still get a salary increase, just not as large of a raise.
Baker on Friday signed a $38.92 billion budget into law for fiscal 2017. Local projects, tourism spending, and state employees paying for their health insurance will all feel the squeeze of his vetoes.
But advocates for the schools say the money is necessary. For the average teacher, Eddy said the salary increase would be around $850 a year, to $26,300. With the cut, the average teacher would get an annual raise of around $340.
“It’s not going to make a quality of life difference for our educators,” Eddy said.
Eddy said when teachers are not paid a reasonable wage, there is constant turnover, which hurts the quality of education. “The key for us is keeping and retaining qualified and credentialed staff,” Eddy said.
The students served by state and federally subsidized preschool come from low-income families, families transitioning off welfare and children in state custody due to abuse or neglect.
Advocates say it is not clear exactly what the impacts will be of the additional $9 million cut.
“Already, we can’t serve the children who qualify for assistance … and obviously cutting $9 million from the pot of money that’s not getting the job done now doesn’t make the job easier,” said Nathan Proctor, state director of Massachusetts Fair Share, a group that supports raising taxes to support additional investment in education.
Massachusetts Fair Share circulated an online petition, which has gotten more than 1,100 signatures, asking legislators to override Baker’s early education budget vetoes.
800 AND COUNTING CALL FOR REVERSAL OF EARLY EDUCATION CUTS
Written by Massachusetts Fair Share
CONTACT: Nathan Proctor, 203 522 3860
July 13, 2016
800 AND COUNTING CALL FOR REVERSAL OF EARLY EDUCATION CUTS
Public asks legislators to override Gov. Baker’s cuts to early education programs as the state finalizes the budget
BOSTON – Community members have expressed frustration in response to Governor Charlie Baker vetoing $17.5 million in funding to early education, including a much needed $7.5 million to the struggling workforce. A petition that has garnered over 800 supporters in just the last 2 days from across the state will be delivered to The Massachusetts State House and State Senate in an effort to push legislators to override Gov. Baker’s targeted line item cuts to early education funding.
Since 2001, early education and out-of-school-time programs have lost more than $148 million in state funding (adjusting for inflation). There were modest gains in the budget around early education funding, but those gains are in jeopardy.
“We know that early education helps more children start kindergarten ready, and that residents from across the state strongly support investing in early education and preschool. We should be expanding these programs, not cutting them,” said Massachusetts Fair Share State Director Nathan Proctor. “I’m especially troubled by the $7.5 million cut targeted at addressing early educator pay, as that investment is critical in stabilizing the field, which is in crisis.”
Among the comments on the petition:
“Cuts in this service are short sighted. Research has documented that early education and care is a vital investment in our children and the benefits outweigh costs.” – Susan from Belmont
“Early ed. is one of the most important funding areas for government. You will save money fighting crime and housing prisoners in the long term. Please override Baker’s line-item veto of this educational item.” – Alice from Arlington
“An educator from the Middle East I met once told me that we Americans have it all wrong. We value Ph.D’s and spend as little as possible on early childhood education. Yet it’s the age before 5 that is so critical to the development of a person. And children are the future of the country. Massachusetts needs to give the best foundation possible to its children and that means spending on early childhood education in ways that can make a real difference.” – Dee from Lowell
Current and former teachers have also spoken out regarding the multi-million-dollar cuts to funding:
“As an Early Childhood Educator who has worked in the State for over 16 years, I have seen less and less funding. I work in Lowell, where many of our children/families struggle financially and the teachers absorb many of the costs that our schools and families cannot fund. By taking more money away from ECE, you are depriving the children of assistance from a paraprofessional who is essential in our Kindergarten classrooms. We are not only educators, but parents, caregivers, and confidants.” – Tara from Lowell
“More money should be allowed for Early Childhood education. This is where we need to close the gap in education. As a kindergarten teacher I see more and more students coming into kindergarten with no prior early childhood experience. When they start kindergarten they are already behind many of their classmates. We need to offer more full day preschool and programs to those in early childhood!” – Heather from Worcester
“We can do better. Every child deserves the same strong start,” added Proctor.
Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children
Marie St. Fleur, President and CEO of Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children (BTWIC), has announced that she will retire from the post in November 2016, following three years leading the Initiative.
The BTWIC Board of Trustees has established a search committee to lead a timely recruitment process for St. Fleur’s successor. The Committee is comprised of sitting Trustees and is headed by the Chair of the Governance Committee, Debbie Smith.
BTWIC is well-positioned for this leadership transition. It is an emerging organization that has demonstrated capacity to successfully manage a transition beyond its Founder Mary Reed, who skillfully led the organization for over a decade. It enjoys a strong reputation for excellence in grassroots research and community engagement with a robust community partnership portfolio. Marie St. Fleur expects to remain actively engaged throughout the transition and BTWIC’s staff and Board are committed to a smooth search process and transition.
The search process has launched. The Board has retained Executive Service Corps (ESC) of New England to manage the process.
Among the Initiative’s significant milestones and accomplishments under Marie St. Fleur’s leadership:
Research Activities: To support increasing the quality of early education and care for all children, BTWIC launched the report Eating to Learn and facilitated expanded access to nutritious snacks and meals through the Child and Adult Food Program for over 900 children. To support the approximately 60% of children under 5 who are in unlicensed care, BTWIC’s research on Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care highlights the need to focus on this diverse population of caregivers and identify recommendations that can connect them to systems of developmentally-appropriate resources.
Technical Business Support for providers: BTWIC launched a small business innovation center providing contextualized technology and business training, allowing early education and care small business owners to develop and use a budget, create a business plan, and utilize a marketing strategy all while reducing the digital divide. The early education workforce in Massachusetts is 96% women – often women color and English language learners – and the median salary level is approximately $25K a year.
Advocacy for the Profession: BTWIC has grown and strengthened advocacy for greater investment in quality early education and care that is anchored in the workforce. It launched a multi-sectoral early education and out-of-school time coalition that has over 75 member organizations with outreach capacity to over 10K Massachusetts residents. This coalition, the Put MA Kids First coalition, has built a strong grassroots presence as well as an effective social media presence that has yielded consistent state increases in direct workforce support for two fiscal years, from $9M to $17M.
Financial Position: Like many small research-based nonprofits, BTWIC is on a consistent path to strengthen its donor base. Transitioning from a dedicated founder receiving a part-time salary to its first non-founding President and CEO, over the past three years BTWIC has consistently met is expenses. All of its account receivables are current. In Fiscal Year 2016 it raised over $650K and is starting FY2017 with $250K in pledged revenue.
Statehouse News Submitted by Massachusetts Fair Share
June 29, 2016
DESPITE BUDGET GAP, LEGISLATORS MAKE CRITICAL INVESTMENTS IN EARLY EDUCATION
Advocates called investment “real progress” and praised lawmakers for protecting early education funds despite budget gap
BOSTON – Massachusetts Fair Share, a statewide grassroots advocacy organization with thousands of members across the state, issued the following statement about news of the 2017 final budget. The budget, passed out of the conference committee today, included critical investments in early education: a $12.5 million investment (1599-0042) in increased compensation for early educators and a $2 million boost to a program (3000-1020) to help early education providers increase and maintain their level of quality.
“With this budget, state lawmakers have shown us that they understand just how important early education is. Even while facing a significant budget gap, we are making real progress.
“Massachusetts should lead on education, but when it comes to early education we have been lagging. For years, Massachusetts’ funding for early education and care has not kept pace with inflation, resulting in a reduction of more than $100 million. It’s a welcome sign to see that trend turn around.
“Studies establish the necessity of quality in order to see long-term positive impacts in early education, but declining budgets have undermined quality. We’re struggling to keep dedicated and highly skilled educators in the field, and face a 30% turnover rate. Stabilizing the workforce is the best way we can help more children get a strong start. The investment of $12.5 million in educators is evidence that our state’s leaders understand that.
“More work needs to be done to make sure every child in Massachusetts gets the same strong start. But today, we celebrate progress as leaders came together to support early education. If we want a system that works in Massachusetts, we need a system that regular working families can afford and that can pay enough to keep teachers in the classrooms in order to meet high standards for quality. These investments bring us closer.”
Statement attributable to Massachusetts Fair Share Director Nathan Proctor.