Welcome to the EEC November Monthly Update!
A newsletter to inform you about recent developments at
the Department of Early Education and Care

Volume 1, Issue 3, November 2, 2005
 
- Presentation to Board Begins Laying Out Options for Balancing Access, Quality,   and Affordability in a new System of Early Education and Care
At Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Early Education and Care, Commissioner Ann Reale presented a comprehensive update on the work of the new agency, including the status of the key policy projects launched in September. The presentation laid out long term issues as well as intermediate and short term decisions that will be considered by the Board over the coming months and years in the development of a new system of early education and care. The Commissioner stressed, throughout the presentation, that with few exceptions these were just options, and that recommendations and decisions will only be made after thorough input from all stakeholders. In the meantime, all current policies remain in place. She also stressed the need to move forward with policies and strategies that balance maximizing access to services with increasing quality and maintaining a level of affordability for all families, and that achieving that balance is a key element of the guiding principles of EEC and of each of the project teams. In a far-reaching discussion based on those guiding principles, the Board considered background information and potential options for many issues related to rates, payment, access to services, and quality and workforce development. To view a copy of the presentation from the November 1, 2005 Board meeting, or a schedule of upcoming Board meetings, please visit the EEC website at: http://www.eec.state.ma.us/oo_meetings.aspx.
 
- Board of Early Education and Care Provides Direction to EEC on Priorities for   Current Fiscal Year Funding Increases
During Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Early Education and Care, members discussed and provided direction on priorities for the release of a new Market Rate Study, allocation of new funding for the Parent-Child Home Program, and guidelines for the new Early Educator Scholarship Program. The Board also reviewed options for the allocation of the Rate Reserve to increase rates paid to providers, and for the increase in the Head Start state supplemental funding. The Board will vote on those issues at the December 6 meeting. Decisions made at the November 1 meeting include:
  • Market Rate Study: The Department is required by federal regulations to conduct a market rate study at least every two years. The Board discussed and approved EEC launching this survey using a more comprehensive approach than in the past, aimed at capturing more than just price information. The new survey, scheduled to be released in early 2006, will include information about the actual costs of providing services, associated revenues, staff salary and benefits, and staff education levels and experience. Preliminary results of the survey will likely be available in late-Spring 2006, and will be used to inform development of new subsidy rate values and associated policies.
  • Parent Child Home Program:: The Parent-Child Home Program ("PCHP") is a home-based parenting, early literacy, and school readiness program designed to strengthen the verbal interaction and educational play between parents and their young children. The FY06 budget provided a $1M increase in funding for the PCHP program. The Board discussed and approved priorities for the allocation of the additional $1M in spending which include immediate allocation to existing sites with the highest need, and a competitive process for expansion at new or existing sites. Priorities for site selection, which apply to both processes, include areas with a high concentration of homeless families, low income families, and a lack of other early education and care resources for families.
  • Early Educator Scholarship Program: The Massachusetts Legislature has allocated $1M at the Board of Higher Education for early educator scholarships. Both the Board of Higher Education and the Board of Early Education and Care are responsible for developing and approving guidelines for the distribution of these funds, in addition to the Legislative requirements included in the appropriation. At the November 1st EEC Board meeting, the Board approved the proposed guidelines with one amendment that specified the amount of time students participating in this scholarship program would agree to continue working in the field of early education and care upon graduation (6 months per semester of scholarship assistance received, up to a maximum of 2 years after receiving an AA, and up to a maximum of 4 years after receiving a BA). The next step in the process is for the Board of Higher Education to consider and approve the same guidelines at their November 17th Board meeting. Scholarship funds will be provided for 2006 Spring and Summer semesters. As more information becomes available regarding the Early Educator Scholarship program, it will be posted on the EEC website at: http://www.eec.state.ma.us.
- Update on End of Voucher Attrition and 2,500 New Subsides for Children on the   Waitlist
On November 1, 2005, EEC officially ended the low-income voucher attrition plan that was implemented in July 2004 to address a budget shortfall at the former Office for Child Care Services. Also on November 1, the Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) began contacting families to provide up to 2,500 new low-income families with a voucher for early education and care services. The priorities for voucher distribution established by EEC are: children with a sibling already enrolled in an EEC subsidy program, homeless families, foster families, teen parents, and Hurricane Katrina/Rita evacuees. To improve access for families, EEC is taking this opportunity to launch a consolidated waiting list project to develop a single, statewide, centrally-managed waiting list for all EEC subsidies. The waiting list project will bring together into a centrally managed system the separate waiting lists currently maintained by CCR&Rs, EEC contracted providers, and Community Partnership for Children Councils' lead agencies. During the month of November, existing waiting lists will be used in accordance with the priorities outlined above, with the goal of utilizing a centralized waiting list for placement of families by December 2005.
 
- November is:
  • Massachusetts Family Literacy Month: Governor Romney has declared November 2005 to be Massachusetts Family Literacy Month. This annual celebration helps create awareness of the value and benefit of family literacy and encourages communities to celebrate with intergenerational literacy and other learning activities. For more information or for ideas about how to participate in Family Literacy Month, please visit our website at www.eec.state.ma.us


  • National Adoption Awareness Month: The purpose of National Adoption Awareness Month is to raise awareness about the children in foster care in Massachusetts waiting for permanent families. EEC is the state agency responsible for licensing all adoption agencies in Massachusetts. EEC and its employees recognize and appreciate the important work performed by our licensed adoption agency partners in connecting children in need of a loving home with adoptive parents. For information please visit our website at www.eec.state.ma.us
- EEC Hosting Regional Meetings to Provide Updates and Seek Input
EEC Commissioner Ann Reale will be presenting updates and leading a discussion on the new Department at six regional meetings across Massachusetts. The regional meetings will focus on the Agency's new structure, mission, and goals, as well as the planning underway to build a new high-quality system of early education and care. The schedule of meetings is as follows:
Western Massachusetts November 14 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Metro Boston November 28 6:00-8:00 p.m.
South Shore December 7 12:00-2:00 p.m.
Central Massachusetts December 7 5:30-7:30 p.m.
North Shore December 8 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Boston Meeting December 21 9:30-11:30 a.m.
A full schedule of meetings with dates, times and locations will be forwarded to you later this week and will also be posted on the EEC website at www.eec.state.ma.us
 
- Hurricane Katrina Evacuees
EEC is enormously grateful to all those who helped the Hurricane Katrina evacuees who were temporarily housed at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod. Last week, the last of the evacuees were relocated off the base, either to other housing in Massachusetts or to other states, and the play space, which EEC set up on the base, in conjunction with Horizons for Homeless Children, was officially closed. Evacuee families who are residing in Massachusetts will continue to be eligible to receive financial assistance for early education and care services. The combined efforts of those who worked with the families at Camp Edwards helped make this traumatic time a little easier, and although it was a challenging endeavor on many levels, it made a big difference in the lives of these families.
 
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Quote of the Month
"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present
are certain to miss the future."

John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
 
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