MA Leaders Rally for Early Education and Care

Today’s article from the Boston Globe seems to hiMA_kidst the right note: “legislators and corporate leaders are working together to increase quality of and access to early education and care”. BTWIC thanks House Speaker Robert DeLeo for being a true champion, harnessing the power of Boston’s strong business sector on behalf of young children across the Commonwealth. We have long held that early education and care is a community issue, one that affects all tiers of the economy, and it is heartening to see this work being done.

The attached graphic, and much of the article itself, focuses on children ages 3 to 5 – “Pre-K”, as it is formally known. Even the annual cost of a private-pay program (quoted as $12,800), is Child Care Aware‘s average figure for four-year-olds. An infant in care runs a family just over $17,000/year, for comparison.

Indeed, brain science has shown that rapid development occurs in the first months and years after birth, up to 700 new neural connections each second, largely through a “serve and return” process of interaction with a primary caregiver. This interaction is so important that, by 24 months old, disparities in vocabulary can become apparent among children from families of varying income.

Speaker DeLeo has heard this message, and understands the need for a quality workforce to support the healthy growth and development of young children of all ages, from all backgrounds. We are fortunate that the field has such a strong leader in the Massachusetts legislature.

Contact your State Senator!

action-alert-image ACTION ALERT!

Please contact your state Senator and tell him or her to support Senator Michael Moore’s amendment to increase the early education and care rate reserve (1599-0042), as well as Senator Linda Dorcena Forry’s amendment to reinstate the $2M grant for QRIS (3000-1020)! If you don’t know who represents your district, visit to find out.

The children of Massachusetts thank you!

Early Education and Care Small Business Innovation Center: on Cognoscenti!


Mayor Martin J Walsh and EEC business owner Melissa Phillips at the EECSBIC “graduation” ceremony on March 19.

Thanks to Mayor Martin Walsh for co-authoring this Cognoscenti op-ed with our CEO, Marie St. Fleur – it brings awareness to the work we are doing in Greater Roxbury through the Early Education and Care Small Business Innovation Center (EECSBIC). Featured in the article (and at right) is Melissa Phillips, owner of Little Brown Bear Academy and EECSBIC “graduate”.

In 2014, we conducted an analysis of the early education and care sector in this community. Less than one year later, 40 of the 127 family child care businesses (31%) were no longer licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care, implying either that their licenses lapsed / expired or that they went out of business. Four of the 27 center-based businesses closed their doors in the same time period. This high turnover of early education opportunities is especially problematic in a neighborhood where many families are low-income and depend on care in order to work. Marie St. Fleur notes in the article:

“These are strong, caring women who do a profound service to children and families in the neighborhood. We know many more examples of this commitment are found throughout all of our neighborhoods. Though they are “small” businesses, they have the power to change the lives of thousands of young children in their communities. They ensure that our children are healthy and ready to enter kindergarten and get on the ladder to success.”

With assistance from our partners at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Tech Goes Home, Google, and the City of Boston, we are working to increase the vitality of this crucial business sector as well as the quality of early education available to young children in Greater Roxbury / Dudley. We believe that better-functioning business practices will decrease pressure on center owners, allowing them more availability to nurture the young children in their care.

Listen below for a clip from WBUR on the importance of small business, specifically minority- and women-owned small business, for the community at large.

National CACFP Week!

ETL_FINAL_COVER-smIt is National CACFP Week, a time to raise awareness of how the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program works to combat hunger and bring healthy foods to underserved populations. Our work with CACFP has focused on early education settings, but the program also serves adults in care.

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is designed to help providers serve nutritious food to children and adults, reimbursing providers for qualified meals and snacks that they serve while offering training, technical assistance, and program oversight. While researching our 2015 “Eating to Learn” report, we discovered that this program is underutilized in Massachusetts. Statewide, approximately 220,000 children are enrolled in early childhood education and out-of-school programs, many of them spending over 8 hours per day in care. This program is a crucial source of nutrition because many children receive the majority of their daily meals and snacks while in care. For our report on CACFP in MA early education and care settings, click here.

The poster below was produced by the National CACFP Sponsors Organization, a national organization for sponsors who administer the USDA CACFP. Please feel free to download and share with those you know!


For more information on National CACFP Week, click here.

Early Education and Care Small Business Innovation Center: Now Recruiting!

We are pleased to announce that the Early Education and Care Small Business Innovation Center (EECSBIC) is now recruiting its second cohort of providers!


It is a program to help early education and care business owners learn how to better manage their operations.


Over the course of ten Saturday morning sessions, trainers will share hands-on lessons in technology, marketing, and financial management. In addition, individual coaches will be available to help providers make the most of their new skills. Each participant also has the option to purchase a discounted Google Chromebook to use during class and to keep once the program has completed, thanks to assistance from Tech Goes Home and Google.


Early education and care business owners in the Greater Roxbury / Dudley area are encouraged to message our Senior Researcher, Kira Taj. We look forward to hearing from you!

To learn more about the EECSBIC, visit our website or watch this video:

Early Education on Boston’s North Shore

56bbc3a2f1598.imageAs of December 2015, according to an article by Carl Gustin and Tom Zarrella’s op-ed in the Salem News, “Just 38 percent of 3 year olds and 66 percent of 4 year olds in the United States are in some kind of preschool, which ranks the United States only 32nd out of 39 countries in the Organization for Economic Development.” This low rate of enrollment is especially disconcerting given that “The most comprehensive study of preschool effectiveness, judged over 40 years, demonstrated that children who attend preschool were more likely to graduate from high school, get better paying jobs, and be less likely to get in trouble with the law.” Additionally, “The study found that a $15,000 investment in a preschool student produced savings of $220,000 in avoided welfare and other social spending.”

Gustin again came to our attention last week, having penned a keen op-ed for the Gloucester Times. We took to Twitter:

The quotes were so universal – we hear the same stories here in Boston and across the state:

And the reason for these early education teacher vacancies seems to always be the same:

Unfortunately for everyone,

We were pleased, most of all, to see that our convesation drew the attention of others:

Let’s keep the conversation going – online and in-person – early education and care is too important to leave behind.

Carl Gustin and Tom Zarella are on the Board of Directors of Pathways for Children.

Comments on the State CCDF Plan

While demand for spots in high-quality centers is on the rise, the number of operating child care businesses has declined. Many centers cannot afford to pay their staff a living wage, and their staff are the foundation to quality. 37% of educators are on some form of public assistance, and the result is a turnover rate near 30%. It is the most vulnerable of our children who are impacted. We see an opportunity to expand and enhance quality as Massachusetts submits its upcoming Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) State plan.

From the National Center for Children in Poverty: “CCDF subsidies assist low-income families with the cost of child care so that they may work or prepare for employment. Assistance is provided in the form of either a contracted child care slot or a voucher that may be used to access care by any provider that meets state requirements.”

The federal government recommends that states reimburse providers at the 75th percentile, but rates in Massachusetts have remained substantially lower than that.

On January 15, the Put MA Kids First Coalition submitted a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care with comments on the state plan. In it, we urged the Department to:

Raise base reimbursement rates,
Guarantee continuity of care for all children receiving subsidies for a minimum of 12 months,
Provide lingustically competent information to individuals with limited English proficiency.

We believe that implementing these changes would have a powerful impact on outcomes for children across the Commonwealth.

Click here to read the letter.

URGENT: Action Needed for Early Education and Care in MA!

action-alert-imageEarlier today, House Labor & Workforce Chairman John Scibak issued an Early Education Priority letter to House Members urging them to sign onto the below-copied letter. Please reach out to your Massachusetts State Representative(s) today and ask them to make the Early Education Workforce a priority by signing on! Interested House members may contact Joe Beebe in Chairman Scibak’s office at (617) 722-2030.

For a list of MA State Legislators, their districts, and their contact information, visit, or click the button to the left.
Read more

Great work by PMKF – much more to be done!

We are excited that our Put MA Kids First coalition is gaining so much momentum – this recent blog entry on the intersection of educational achievement and income inequity (the much-publicized “advantage gap”) is one prime example. While reading, we were reminded us of this article on the Huffington Post, written last April. It covers a remarkable study which demonstrated physical differences between the brains of children from high- and low-income families, with disparity most evident at the lower end of the curve. One big takeaway:

“If we could somehow enrich the environments of particularly the poorer children, we might be able to change that trajectory to equalize it, to some extent.”
– Dr. Elizabeth Sowell, Director of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

For our original blog post on the subject, click here.