Yesterday, more than 250 early educators, advocates, and parents came to the Massachusetts State House to meet and to ask their legislators to support early education and care.
“This should be one of our top priorities,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said at the event.
“What you do is of critical importance,” Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) said. The state budget process, Peisch noted, is an enormous competition among worthy causes for a limited pool of resources. “It’s really important that you come in and advocate.”
Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) tweeted: “Amazing turnout of early educators and advocates this AM for Early Education Advocacy Day. Nothing is more important than building resiliency in our youngest children and our #earlyeducators are doing the work every day. Thank you!” A former social worker, Spilka stressed the importance of giving early educators the tools they need to address the effects of trauma in children’s and families’ lives.
Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), newly appointed co-chair of the Joint Committee on Education, also spoke at the event. He noted that providing universal, affordable child care was not only a matter of social justice, but also an economic imperative.
“We’ve made remarkable progress over the course of the last six years, but it is simply part of the foundation for where we need to go,” Commissioner Tom Weber of the Department of Early Education and Care said. He stressed that there is nothing more important than children and families, to achieving our shared well-being as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Check out the blog Ideas and Innovations In Early Childhood Education, to see videos of DeLeo, Peisch, Weber, and early educator Medina Lawson all speaking at Advocacy Day.
Now that Governor Charlie Baker has filed his fiscal year 2020 budget, it’s time to keep the advocacy going by reminding legislators about key budget items. Among these are:
• Early Education Rate Reserve to address Program Quality & the Early Educator Workforce: $24.45 Million (Line Item 3000-1042) – to help more early educators earn a livable wage
• Head Start State Supplemental Grant: $15 Million (an increase of $5.4 Million in Line Item 3000-5000)
• Quality Rating Improvement System: $32.6 Million (an increase of $2.5 Million in Line Item 3000-1020) – to improve program quality across the state
• Resource & Referral System: $9.75 Million (an increase of $1 Million in Line Item 3000-2000)
• Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative: $25 Million (an increase of $20 Million in Line Item 3000-6025) – to sustain and expand preschool programs, and
• Jumpstart for Young Children: $500,000 (an increase of $400,000 for Jumpstart’s earmark in the $6.4 million Line Item 3000-1000) – to support Jumpstart’s language, literacy and social-emotional programming.
So seize the momentum of Advocacy Day and keep your outreach efforts going. Get to know your state legislators. Invite them to your programs. Send them art made by your program’s children. And keep early education and care high up the state’s agenda.
And please share your efforts on social media using the hashtag #ValueEarlyEducators.