The Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation at UMass Boston (the Early Ed Leadership Institute) announces that it has been awarded $2.5 million by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) to manage and enhance the delivery of professional development and training offered to the state’s licensed early educators through EEC’s five regional StrongStart Professional Development Centers (PDC). The state also awarded the Early Ed Leadership Institute $753,469 to operate the Metro Boston StrongStart Professional Development Center and $600,000 to scale its Early Education Quality through Instructional Leadership (EQIIL) professional learning model. EQIIL supports early education and care leaders to use job-embedded professional learning to promote instructional quality and a culture of continuous learning.
Since founding her home-based family childcare business 12 years ago, Roxana Flores has cared for more than 50 children at Roxana’s Day Care in San Jose, CA, many of them now tweens and teens who still visit her. She provides professional coaching for other family child care providers, and during our May 14, 2022 Leadership Forum on Early Education, Research, Policy, and Practice, Floresshared her expertise as a panelist in a session about how to better recognize and elevate family childcare.
The journey to becoming a successful business owner was not an easy one. As a new immigrant to the United States from Mexico and the single parent of a young child with special needs, Flores launched her career as a family childcare owner in part so that she could better care for her daughter. At one point, her days stretched from the early morning hours until well past 10 at night as Flores held down a job, got her daughter to daily speech therapy appointments, took courses toward her early care and education license at night, and maintained her household.
What did attendees of our ninth annual Leadership Forum on Early Education, Research, Policy, and Practice think of the event?
They loved it!
But don’t take our word for it. Take theirs.
Below is a representative sample of feedback from attendees:
“Hearing so many perspectives and new solutions for persistent challenges!”
“The opportunity to network.”
“Learning from different perspectives and hearing how they can collaborate to continually improve our field.”
“This is what we see year after year and it’s what makes this event so special,” said Lynne Mendes, Director of Leadership Programs for the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation. “At this event, early educators showcase their expertise and make connections they would not have had the chance to make otherwise.”
Nearly everyone who has worked in the field of early education has had the experience of hearing the expertise required to work with very young children dismissed as little more than “babysitting.”
It’s a serious issue.
When policymakers and voters do not understand that the foundation of quality early education begins with a highly skilled workforce, they are far less likely to make the investments required to ensure that every child has access to high quality care and education.
A new study found that teachers’ educational attainment and current teaching positions explained wage gaps among a statewide representative sample of ECE center educators in Massachusetts. The study also found that center educators who self-identified as Black earned higher hourly wages than their White, Hispanic/Latinx, and other-race counterparts with similar characteristics. Hispanic/Latinx educators earned wages comparable with their White counterparts.
“Teachers with a bachelor’s or higher degrees earned higher wages than those with lower educational attainment, and being a lead teacher instead of an assistant teacher was also associated with higher wages,” said study author Anne Douglass, PhD, Professor of Early Care and Education at UMass Boston and the founding executive director of the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation. “The strong association between educational attainment and hourly wages underscores the importance of implementing intentional strategies to create equitable opportunities for pursuing higher education degrees for all early educators.”
Kelly Cavallini has been working in family child care for 29 years and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She briefly worked as a center director for a large chain but found that she missed the more intimate work with children and families that running a family childcare allowed her to do.
Because family child care owners often work on their own they “don’t have anyone validating” what they’re doing, said Cavallini, who works out of her home in Springfield. “You’re skipping around the house and your little ducklings are following you, and we are doing amazing work but on one sees it!”
After 39 years as an ECE provider, you’d think Marcia Gadson-Harris would have little desire—or need—for more professional development training. And yet, last October she completed Leading for Change, the 14-week professional development program offered through the Massachusetts StrongStart Professional Development Centers that trains program administrators, educators, and family child care providers on how to lead for change and quality improvement in their practice, program, or in the field.
For Gadson-Harris, the question of whether she would participate in the training was never in doubt. “I’m an avid learner,” she says. “I take lots and lots of training and there’s no such thing as too much training. You can never stop learning. That’s what life is all about.”
In “Preparing early educators as frontline leaders and change agents with a leadership development initiative,” UMass Boston researchers show that early educators who participated in a relational-entrepreneurial leadership development program were likely to lead for change in curriculum improvement, family engagement, and relationship building after completing their training. These findings suggest that relational-entrepreneurial leadership training has the potential to tap into early educators’ proprietary knowledge about caring for and educating very young children that are not known to those outside the field. Consequently, findings from this study are deeply relevant to current debate among early educators, parents, and policymakers about how to make affordable, high quality early care and education accessible to all families.
Just as Becky DelVecchio launched her research project for her doctoral thesis, the world shut down due to COVID-19.
She had originally planned to do an ethnographic study on the psychologically restorative benefits of nature play for children and families by embedding in a nature program to study the lived experiences of children, educators and families as they move through the program. That became impossible when COVID-19 health and safety restrictions forced the closure of ECE programs across the state. For months after reopening, most programs prohibited visitors to their centers and schools.
She instead adapted her project to a mixed-methods study, which included a quantitative online survey directed at caregivers of 3-4-year-olds in Greater Boston, followed by qualitative interviews with a sample of the respondents.
DelVecchio was pleased to receive 173 completed surveys, given the pressures parents were under, especially in the early days of the pandemic. “I was really thankful and just continue to be thankful to all the families who contributed to my research,” she said.
Program will estimate costs needed for Common Start legislation (H. 605 / S. 362)
A UMass Boston-based interdisciplinary team of researchers has launched a new research project that will build a cost simulator to inform policy recommendations around universal child care. The simulator will model the amount of funding required by the Common Start legislation to provide affordable, high-quality early care and education for families in Massachusetts. The team has expertise in economics, early education, and public policy and will include researchers from the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation at UMass Boston, the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston, and the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. The project is being funded by the Commonwealth Children’s Fund, which invests in public policy and other initiatives that support children in Massachusetts from birth to age five. Continue Reading →
This is the blog of the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, a university-wide initiative housed in the College of Education and Human Development at UMass Boston.