Massachusetts sealHere is a summary of highlights from the Board of Early Education and Care’s meeting on April 9, 2013:

Board Business

Tom Weber was confirmed as acting commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care as of March 11, 2013.

In his report, Weber said that most of his work has been in three areas:

–  relationship-building with the department’s staff

– advocacy around the fiscal year 2014 budget and meeting with the Legislature to discuss the scope of the department’s work

– assessing and improving the department’s policy efforts and boosting staff members’ ability to take on leadership roles.

Weber also said that $1.8 million from the Income/Eligible caseload account was used to create openings for 739 children. (Spending more than this in fiscal year 2013 funds would have created a deficit in fiscal year 2014.)

The department has made progress in responding to Secretary Malone’s direction that EEC initiate a top-to-bottom review of its Internal Control Plan as soon as it practically can, seeking advice and guidance from the state Comptroller’s Office. 

Progress has also been made in addressing a report from State Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office on the proximity of registered sex offenders to the locations of licensed child care providers. To better track this information, the department is working with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and the Massachusetts Sex Offenders Registry Board (SORB).

Items for Discussion and Action:

1.  Universal PreKindergarten (UPK): FY13 Review and FY14 Planning — Discussion

John Swanson, EEC policy analyst, presented information to the Board about the policy objectives and eligibility requirements of the Fiscal Year 2013 Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) grant. He also gave an overview of proposed changes to the FY14 UPK grants.

2.  EEC Performance Measurement Data Dashboard – Discussion

Tanuja Gopal, EEC chief information officer, presented an initial draft of an EEC Performance Measurement Data Dashboard. The dashboard will track data in a number of areas – including licensing, child demographics and program information – to improve outcomes and share findings with the public in an accessible way. Gopal said the Dashboard will enhance EEC’s commitment to a culture of data-driven results.

Statements from the Public

Carolyn Lyons, president and CEO of Strategies for Children, welcomed Commissioner Weber. Lyons noted that he is the fourth commissioner in the department’s seven-year history. Lyons said that because the field of early childhood is at a tipping point, Massachusetts has a crucial opportunity to make substantial progress on behalf of its children.   

Representatives of Somerville’s Parent Child Home Program spoke about their work with parents and young children throughout their community. Fernanda Villar, the program coordinator in Somerville, said that her five-person, home-visiting staff speaks English, Portuguese, Italian, Arabic, French, Haitian, Creole, Spanish and Pashtu. These home visitors provide support and resources to parents, so that parents can engage in encouraging their children’s positive growth and development.

The next board meeting will be held on May 14, 2013 at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 125 West Bay Road, Amherst, MA 01002.

For more information, visit the EEC Board website.