Letters to the Editor

August 5, 2017
By

Happy with state budget

Dear Editor:

We are happy to report that Governor Baker accepted the legislature’s recommendation and included the full $1.19 million for maintenance, staffing and free events and programs on the region’s public beaches from Nahant to Nantasket that Save the Harbor/Save the Bay has been advocating for since the first of the year.

All of us here at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay would like to thank all of you who love our beaches for helping us let the Governor know how important the region’s public beaches are to you and your community.

Nearly 1 million people visited America’s oldest public beach this past weekend for the 14th annual International Sand Sculpting Festival on Revere Beach. Photo by Mikey Colon

We’d also like to thank Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito, the leadership of the House and the Senate, Co-Chairs Sen.Tom McGee of Lynn and Rep. RoseLee Vincent of Revere and all the members of the Metropolitan Beaches Commission for their commitment to our beaches.

The unanimous support of the House, the Senate and the Baker/Polito Administration are bright testimony to the value of these spectacular urban natural resources to our communities and the Commonwealth.

We look forward to seeing you on your beach really soon!

You can find a schedule of free Better Beaches Program events in Lynn, Nahant, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull on our blog Sea, Sand & Sky at http://www.blog.savetheharbor.org/2017/07/better-beaches-program-2017.html.

Save the Harbor/

Save the Bay

 

thank you legislature

Dear Editor:

As the Executive Director and co-founder of the nonprofit For Kids Only Afterschool, I wish to express my deep gratitude to our community’s legislative leaders for putting children and child care as a top priority in the Commonwealth’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget, which was recently finalized.

Thousands of children leave school each weekday afternoon alone, returning home or to other places that lack adult supervision. It is during these afternoon hours when children are most likely to be victims of crime or to engage in risky behaviors.  However, quality licensed afterschool programs and out-of-school time (OST) programs do great things for young people and provide a safe alternative for working families.

In an OST program, children get a healthy snack and assistance with homework completion every day, participate in fun and engaging enrichment classes such as science, yoga, sports and the arts and can relax and socialize with their peers while their parents work. Dedicated, caring educators who work in OST programs offer a daily, consistent presence in children’s lives, with nurturing guidance and coaching that supports healthy social and emotional development.  My experience running OST programs for over 30 years tells me that a highly skilled and qualified staff team is the most critical factor in delivering quality services.  A statewide report focused on OST programs across our state – the Massachusetts Afterschool Research Study (MARS) – also documented that the retention of staff directly impact the quality OST programs provide youth.

Thanks to the foresight of our legislative leaders, many more Massachusetts children will have access to these types of quality OST programs.  I am especially appreciative of House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s leadership and unwavering support of early education and afterschool programs and his staff in the House for spearheading this priority and for relentlessly pushing forward on this issue. I also wish to thank Senator Joan B. Lovely and Representative RoseLee Vincent for their advocacy and support on behalf of children and families during this budget process. Together, these legislators worked to ensure the inclusion of the following key budget items which will directly impact some of our community’s most disadvantaged youth and help their families to work.

−       The Early Education Rate Reserve line item, funded at $15 million, will help sustain the early education and afterschool workforce by adding to the reimbursement rate providers receive when serving low-income and at-risk youth through state child care vouchers. These funds will help the OST field pay highly qualified, caring staff working with some of our neediest youth a living wage and reduce staff turnover.

−       The Afterschool and Out-of-School Time Quality Grant – funded at $3.525 million – supports quality curriculums, program quality enhancements, and professional development for staff.  More than one hundred programs serving over 10,000 children and youth will benefit from better quality programming to help them learn and grow.

I am also very thankful for legislative efforts to increase Children’s Mental Health Consultation.  These funds are essential to ensuring children and adolescents with severe emotional disturbance and serious mental illness can access crucial mental health services.

Everyone at For Kids Only Afterschool is grateful to our legislators for their willingness to speak out for and support all children, including some of the most vulnerable populations among us.

 

Sincerely,

Deborah Kneeland Keegan

For Kids Only Afterschool

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