LEVERETT — The Healey-Driscoll administration announced it is awarding $15.5 million in Coordinated Family and Community Engagement (CFCE) Grants to 81 organizations across the Commonwealth that provide child-development services and resources to families with young children. Early Education and Care Commissioner Amy Kershaw and Director of Rural Affairs Anne Gobi visited the Leverett Library to announce the awards and hear directly from families on rural childcare challenges and opportunities, as well as see firsthand the impact these grants have on improving child development and family engagement.
“The Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Grant is a critical tool for expanding access to high-quality, affordable childcare, addressing the youth mental-health crisis, and providing educational and community-based opportunities for families in emergency shelter,” Gov. Maura Healey said. “The investment of state funds into programs like this will help make our state more affordable and equitable, connecting families with childhood-development programs and engagement activities that support the well-being and needs of our young children and their families.”
Many of the recipient organizations of the Coordinated Family and Community Engagement award are the first touchpoint for families, reaching out and connecting them with local early-education and out-of-school-time services available through public schools, center-based programs, Head Start, and other family childcare programs. These organizations coordinate healthy activities and resources that promote parent education and family engagement, address early literacy and child development, and improve transitions between early education and care settings, home, and school for children from birth to age 6.
Further, these programs support families in cities and towns across Massachusetts, including rural communities like Leverett, and strengthen the capacity of communities through CFCE council membership and community collaboration to engage and support families. More than half of Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns are rural communities, and the CFCE networks in these smaller communities can help families navigate the unique barriers and opportunities of rural communities as they seek out early education and childcare for their children. Through intentional alignment of goals, approaches, and policies, CFCE programs promote collaboration between agencies that serve young children and their families, no matter where they are in the Bay State.
Earlier this month, Healey declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts due to the rapidly rising numbers of migrant families arriving to the Commonwealth in need of shelter and services, including many with young children. The CFCE network has been a critical resource in select communities providing emergency assistance, by setting up playgroups for parents and children inside the shelters.
“Our CFCE partners are deeply connected to their communities, providing vital and responsive services to young children and their families across the Commonwealth,” Department of Early Education and Care Commissioner Amy Kershaw said. “Most recently, they have stepped up and been a critical support to the rising number of families arriving in Massachusetts. Programs are doing everything they can, including setting up playgroups and child-friendly spaces, as well as providing case management and referrals to support the health and well-being of families. We are pleased to provide $15.5 million in grants to continue these critical services and recognize our partners for their work, done with empathy and grace.”