Jay Gonzalez, Chair of the Board of the Department of  Early Education and Care
Jay Gonzalez

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is asking the Legislature for an additional $45 million for fiscal year 2016. This investment would position Massachusetts to improve the ways that it helps young children succeed in school and life.

Please contact your elected state officials and let them know that you support this request and the progress it seeks to make.

EEC’s FY 2016 proposal is based on a vision of eventually providing high-quality, affordable programs that are available to every young child in the state. These programs would be staffed with well-qualified and well-trained teachers and providers.

“After a long process of evaluating the state of early education and care in Massachusetts and soliciting feedback from stakeholders and the public, the Board of Early Education and Care developed and approved a comprehensive proposal for systemic reform and investment,” Jay Gonzalez, chair of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care, said in a statement. “The Board’s vote establishes a multi-year framework for taking our system of early education and care to the next level.” 

The proposed budget’s framework focuses on seven areas:

• access

• quality

• health and safety

• workforce

• alignment

• simplifying and streamlining the system, and,

• support for families

The budget request asks lawmakers to invest in a number of crucial improvements, including:

• $15 million for a 4 percent rate increase for providers
This would help stabilize the early education and care field. It would also move the state closer to its goal of paying rates that are in the 75th percentile of the larger early education and care market.

• $15 million to offer subsidized early education and care to an additional 2,500 children
An investment here would take children off the state’s waiting list.

• $225,000 for “Preschool Expansion Initiative Growth– FY16 Planning Grants”
These grants would support a 2016-2017, state-funded expansion within existing and new communities. The funds would also allow for continued alignment with federal Preschool Expansion Grant efforts.

• $2 million increase for the UPK Grant program
These grants help programs meet the state’s early education quality standards.

• $2 million for family and community engagement
These funds would sustain the state’s current engagement efforts, including parent education, learning partnerships with museums and libraries, and the use of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) in early education curricula. This investment would also help families who do not have formal access to early education by providing access to informal resources that support children’s learning and development.

• $5 million for program quality and quality improvements
These funds would support the early education and care programs that participate in the state’s QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement System). QRIS programs go through a staged process of rigorous reviews as they incorporate a range of best practices.

• $450,000 to support health and safety operations and monitoring
This investment would enable EEC to hire key staff, including an assistant deputy commissioner for field operations, an educator provider support specialist, and five licensors.

• $5 million for IT advancements
EEC needs software to enhance existing operations and to prepare for federal block grant requirements.

Tom Weber
Tom Weber

“In order to achieve a system of early education and care that works best for children, we must simultaneously provide a measure of stability to our provider community and firmly align our public investments with research-based measurements of quality programming,” according to Tom Weber, the commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care.

Weber adds: “Our mission is to provide Massachusetts’s young children with transformative programming during the most developmentally-rich period of their lives. This proposal will do so on an ambitious yet achievable schedule.”

If you would like more details about the budget ask, please contact Laura Healy by email or call her at (617) 330-7389.

 And be sure to tell your state legislators that increasing our investment in children is a crucial priority.