Petition in Support of the Early Learning Center at UMass Boston

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On Thursday, July 6, parents of children attending the Early Learning Center (ELC) at UMass Boston received a letter at the end of the day revealing UMass Boston’s plans to close the center on December 29, 2017 due to budget cuts.  This will leave over 50 children without care, as well as dedicated staff and students from the university without jobs.

We call on Chancellor Barry Mills and the Budget Committee at Umass Boston to do the following immediately:
● Rescind the decision to close the Early Learning Center on December 29, 2017.
● Ensure full staffing with qualified individuals of the Early Learning Center during this transitional time, and going forward.
● Immediately meet with parents and stakeholders to begin the long term collaborative planning process to ensure that the Early Learning Center remains a viable, sustainable, high quality, and affordable educational institution for the children of UMB faculty, staff, students, and the greater community.

Why UMass Boston (UMB) Needs to INVEST in the Early Learning Center (ELC) -- Presented by the ELC Family Parent Committee

FACTS ABOUT THE EARLY LEARNING CENTER AND WHY IT SHOULD REMAIN OPEN:

  • The Early Learning Center (ELC) was established in 1972 to meet the needs of the University community.  From 1975 to 1988 the center was housed on the UMass Boston (UMB) campus, but was forced to move due to safety concerns regarding being located in the science building.  Since then it has rented space from Harbor Point, with the belief that they would eventually be moved back to campus again in a central location for UMB faculty, staff, and students.  Regardless of location, it has served not only UMB but the community of the surrounding area for over 40 years.
  • The Early Learning Center has consistently offered subsidized spots to low income members within the community.  As the only public university in the City of Boston and one of the great institutions for promoting equity in the Commonwealth, UMass Boston has a responsibility to serve its local communities and the historically under-privileged.
  • Currently service 32 children enrolled from low income, subsidy slots (Vouchers and EEC contracted slots)
     

EARLY LEARNING CENTER SERVICES:

The ELC partners with Boston Public Schools, Boston Thom Early Intervention, Home for Little Wanderers, Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, JumpStart, Geiger Gibson Community Health Center, Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, Department of Nutrition, multiple departments and colleges within UMass Boston, and various school districts and agencies to provide holistic, wrap around support services for both the children and families of the ELC.

  • In collaboration with the various community based partners, the ELC is able to refer students and families to our community partners for holistic wrap around services.
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children – one of the few nationally accredited childcare facilities in the Dorchester/Boston local area.
  • Provide quality nutritional meals - breakfast, lunch and snack from City Fresh to ensure children are healthy, meeting the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – Department of Nutrition strict standards.
     

ELC VITAL TO UMASS BOSTON'S URBAN MISSION:

UMass Boston has a vital urban mission: to provide underserved and low-income students from Boston with an enriching academic experience.  As a university focused on drawing highly qualified staff and committed students to their campus, closing the Early Learning Center would remove a valuable recruiting tool.  The ability to work or study full time while also having affordable, quality childcare on campus is something that has drawn many students and faculty to UMass Boston.  Additionally, removal of the Early Learning Center will leave many students, faculty and staff, with no affordable childcare, resulting in reduction of enrollment.

  • (5) children of UMB students, (8) children of UMass Boston faculty/staff.
  • From 2010 - present, 130 children enrolled from UMB faculty/staff and students
  • There is little to no advertisement by the University for their childcare services, resulting in many students being unaware of this pivotal resource, therefore contributing to low enrollment numbers of UMB faculty, staff and student families.

The Early Learning Center is important to not just the mission of UMass Boston, but the UMB students, the Harbor Point community, and the greater Dorchester/South Boston community.  It brings children from different and diverse backgrounds and provides a place to learn and grow together in a safe, educational setting.

  • The ELC is currently serving 24 children from Harbor Point and 19 children are enrolled from the community.
     

UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIPS:

The ELC has not only been a vital childcare center, but a resource for various departments within the university.

 College of Education and Human Development

  • The College of Education and Human Development - Early Education department utilize the center for their students to earn observation hours, and participate in internships within the center. These training and learning opportunities lead to jobs at the ELC or elsewhere in the early education field.
  • Participating in such a vibrant and diverse educational setting is critical training for any potential early educator to prepare for work in urban settings.
  • Closing the center removes an essential educational opportunity for students enrolled in the Early Education program.  Through their hours in the center’s classrooms they obtain valuable first-hand experience and credits required to graduate with a worthwhile degree.

Psychology Department

  • The Psychology department has established a valuable partnership with the ELC. UMass Boston students participate in the undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. programs.
  • Students have performed observations and research. Their observations assisted their training as child psychologists.
  • The Ph.D. students have conducted parent workshops at the ELC providing valuable resources for families.  

Student Employment Office – Work Study

  • Over the past 7-10 years the ELC has served 15-20 work study students each semester (fall, spring, summer). We currently have 15 work study students employed.
  • Since 2010, the ELC has employed over 315 work study students and provided them with valuable work and learning experiences vital for their future career.

 
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS: 

The ELC serves as a critical partner to local community based organizations who align with the Universities urban mission. 

Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC)

  • Work Study and other interested students use the ELC for training and hours to become Toddler and Preschool teacher qualified through the Mass Department of Early Education.
  • The licensing agency for all childcare/afterschool facilities in Massachusetts.

JumpStart

  • The ELC and JumpStart program have collaborated for the past 10 years, providing vital service learning opportunities for 15-18 UMass Boston JumpStart students per semester (Fall, Spring).
  • Since 2007, we have provided over 300 UMass Boston JumpStart students with experiential and service learning in the early education field.

Home for Little Wanderers (HFLW) – Preschool Outreach Program (POP)

  • The POP program provides individual play therapy, family therapy and supports to parents and caregivers of the ELC.
  • The goal of POP is to help children achieve success in family relationships and the learning environment through thoughtful and collaborative partnerships like the ELC.

The Historic New England’s Pierce House in Dorchester

  • Offers an exciting series of outreach programs for pre-school groups.
  • Historic New England’s school and youth programs are designed to make history relevant and fun for even the youngest student.
  • The pre-school programs combine themed story books and hands-on craft activities to introduce children aged 3-6 to ideas about New England’s history and the passing seasons.

Boston College High School

  • Since 2004, Boston College High School Students have been fulfilling their community service requirements at the ELC.


Geiger Gibson Community Health Center

  • The ELC has partnered with the Geiger Gibson Community Health Center, to share information on healthcare, vision and dental opportunities.
     

MA STATE STANCE ON EARLY EDUCATION:

  • House Speaker Robert DeLeo announced in February 2017 that early childhood education system is in crisis.  He released findings and recommendations of a task force he created last March to improve the state's early education system.  
  • DeLeo stated, "In the near term, quality EEC (early education and care) can dramatically improve children's lives, preparing them for fulfilling futures while also bettering the lives of families by allowing parents to go to work knowing that their children are well cared for, and EEC can bolster our economy in myriad of ways.”
     

OUR ELC FAMILY PARENT COMMITTEE - PROPOSITION:

  • Work with the University, departments, community partners, families, and the local community to improve the financial and long term sustainability of the ELC.
  • Model the ELC after the GoKids facility at UMass Boston, and formally turn it into a learning lab with more resources and options for grants which will allow for research and outcomes that can enhance the ELC, children served, UMB families/staff/faculty and the community.
  • Create an advisory board comprised of university and community partners and parents to help support the long term sustainability of the ELC.
  • Move the Early Learning Center back on campus.
  • Market it better to students/faculty/staff.


 SHOW YOUR SUPPORT: please reach out to the ELC Family Parent Committee with your letters of support or comments at: umasselcfamily@gmail.com or follow us on

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/friendsumassbostonelc

 



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