State Budget Update – Advocacy Needed!

Adapted from PMKF member Strategies for Children’s blog Eye on Early Education:

The Massachusetts Senate passed a $40.4 billion budget on Thursday, May 25. During the budget debate, Senators adopted four amendments for early education, adding $500,000 to EEC’s total budget.  Click here for specific line items and funding levels. 

The next step in the FY18 budget process is that the House and Senate appoint three members each to a Conference Committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate proposals. Once out of conference committee and approved by the House and Senate, the budget will go to Governor Baker, where he will have ten days to review the bill, sign it and announce any vetoes and amendments.

 

At stake in the budget, negotiation is resources to advance all Put MA Kids First Coalition members’ two critical goals:

 

1. Stabilizing the Workforce

  •   Center Based Child Care Rate Increase for Early Educators (3000-1042): House funding level of $20 million, to address the current workforce crisis by increasing salaries for early educators.

2. Growing Quality (a system of programs that are anchored in a consistent, high skilled and fairly compensated workforce)

  • Quality Improvement (3000-1020): Senate funding level of $31.86 million, with House language for QRIS earmark and Senate language earmarking $100,000 for a study on the workforce.
  •    Outside Section 74 A in the House – Carries over any unspent funding in Income Eligible and TANF/Supportive for infant/toddler rate increases and early educators salary increases.

We encourage your support of the items listed below:

  •  Head Start (3000-5000): Senate funding level of $9.5 million.
  •   Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (3000-6025): Senate funding level of $15.10 million, to enable local communities to expand high-quality preschool opportunities for 3- and 4-year-olds.
  •   Early Childhood Mental Health (3000-6075): House funding level of $2.50 million.
  •   Reach Out and Read (3000-7070): House funding level of $1 million
  •  EEC Administration (3000-1000): Senate funding level of $5.76 million.
  • Supportive Child Care & TANF (3000-3060): Senate funding level of $223.30 million.

Contact your legislators today, and encourage them to support high-quality early education in the conference committee budget for FY18. 

Call Your Senators Today to Support Early Ed!

The Put MA Kids First Coalition is encouraged by the Senate Ways and Means proposed investment in early education and care in all segments of the early education and care continuum. We appreciate this first look at these accounts.
 We ask the Senate to support the House recommendation for a $20 Million dollar investment in the rate reserve to stabilize the workforce and continued investment in the Quality line item of $4M to incentivize the workforce. We are on a  persistent march to build  quality programs for all infants and toddlers. Between 2000 and 2010 the early education and care budget was level funded without taking into account inflation. Approximately $110 Million dollars of under-investment to support our youngest learners has contributed to 30% turnover rate in this field. Moreover, it jeopardizes advancements made to build a quality system. Over the past three years the legislature  joined the Put MA Kids First Coalition’s call to stabilize the workforce and invest in quality. We encourage the Senate to stay the course.  Access to quality early education and care programs cannot be achieved without a consistent, high skilled and fairly compensated workforce.
Call your Senators today and ask them to increase investment to stabilize the workforce and invest in quality so we can realize the promise of the Kids First Report.

FY’18 House Ways and Means Recommendations

FY’18 House Ways and Means Committee Recommendations for Early Education and Care

The Put MA Kids First Coalition extends its appreciation to House Ways and Means Committee for the Department of Early Education and Care funding recommendation for FY’ 2018.

The following recommendations are very encouraging:

  • Salary Rate Reserve Line Item 3000-1042: $20M for a salary reserve to increase rates for center-based early education providers
  • Quality Line item 3000-1021: Provides $4M for the development and implementation of the Quality Rating and Improvement System. $2M of which must be used for grants to providers meeting QRIS.

The House Ways and Means recommendation reflects a $3 Million dollar increase in the salary reserve line item from FY’2017.

In this recommendation, the House continues its steady march towards stabilizing the workforce and valuing quality. Our appreciation goes to Speaker DeLeo for his steady support. As concerned citizens and providers we look forward to working with the legislature in the next of the FY’ 2018 budget deliberations towards achieving greater investment in early education and care.

Get a copy of our announcement on letterhead here.

Governor Recommends $28M Funding Boost for EEC

The Put MA Kids First  (PMKF) coalition is encouraged by Governor Bakers recommended $28 Million dollar boost in funding for early education and care. We extend our appreciation to Speaker DeLeo for his leadership on this issue and his rallying  of the business community. Over three years ago PMKF, called attention to the 10 year trend in declining investment in early education and care to the tune of over $100 million dollars. This trend has contributed to a 30% staff  turnover rate and decrease access. Speaker DeLeo, has called this a crisis, and  over the past 2 budget cycles he has worked with the field towards reversing that trend.
Our youngest learners deserve quality education and care and that can only be delivered by a consistent high skilled and fairly compensated workforce.  The fiscal year 2018 budget negotiations are underway. Governor Baker’s $28 Million dollar recommendation is a good start. We look forward to working with the legislature for a strong finish.

FY ’18 PMKF Recommendations

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!

 

PMKF Resumes Advocacy Role!

MarieWe 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!

Looking Back on the Last Three Years: Thank You PMKF Community!

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.

Accomplishment Highlights:

  • 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

 

 

Thank you MA Legislators!!

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].”

Keep reading here

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.

Message from PMKF Founder Board of Trustees

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.

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