Amy Kershaw

We’re excited to welcome Amy Kershaw as the new acting commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

Or, more precisely, we’re excited to welcome her back.

As EEC Board Chair Nonie Lesaux says in an EEC press release, “Commissioner Kershaw’s professional roots in early education policy and her very strong track record of public service and leadership in Massachusetts will greatly benefit EEC, especially at this pivotal time.”

Kershaw is currently the commissioner of the Department of Transitional Assistance. But long before this, she worked in early childhood, first as the director of Research and Policy here at Strategies for Children, and then as a deputy commissioner and later as acting commissioner of EEC. 

She is scheduled to become acting commissioner on March 28. Until then, Education Secretary James Peyser will serve in the position.

As acting commissioner, Kershaw will be able to steer the field through what appears to be the dwindling of the pandemic and on to what could become a period of great progress.

Currently EEC is “in the midst of distributing approximately $400 million to child care providers through the Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) grant program,” federal Covid funding that helps stabilize operations.

Next, Kershaw, the field, and policymakers should build on increased public awareness that child care is a crucial public good that is worthy of thoughtful and generous investments. 

Kershaw explains it this way, saying in the press release, “Child care is the ultimate two-generation approach to supporting families – helping parents and caregivers work, while promoting healthy development for their children.”

Massachusetts and the country also need to promote the healthy development of early childhood programs so that they can become stronger and more beneficial for children.

“This is not a time to slow down or stall,” Amy O’Leary, executive director of Strategies for Children, says. “This is a time to continue the important work of EEC, to ensure a stable early education and care field. As advocates, we are here to help, and we look forward to our collaboration with Acting Commissioner Kershaw.”