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

Volume 1, Issue 2, October 5, 2005
 
- EEC Set to Release New Funds for Early Education and Care Subsidies as Board of Early Education and Care Reviews FY06-FY07 EEC Spending Plan
Additional funding in the FY06 state budget will allow EEC to immediately end the attrition of existing voucher subsidies, and issue new vouchers for financial assistance for up to 2,500 low-income families on the waitlist over eight months, beginning November 1, 2005. The Department will prioritize this new funding for homeless families, foster parents, and siblings of children already receiving assistance. EEC will be working with the Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies over the coming month to develop an efficient and fair plan for making new vouchers available. Additional recommendations for the distribution of other FY06 increases, including a $12.5 million rate reserve, will come before the Board of Early Education and Care at the November 1 and December 6 meetings. To view the spending plan presentation made to the Board on October 5, click here: http://www.eec.state.ma.us/docs/BEECPublicSpendingPlan20051005.pdf.
 
- EEC Policy Project Update- Presentation to Board Lays out Challenges of Current Programs in Balancing Quality, Access and Rates
The policy and planning projects initiated by EEC in September are now completing the information gathering phase, and staff have put together a compelling picture of current policies and practices at EEC. The projects, which are geared towards identifying areas of strength, as well as opportunities for improvements, are organized into the following three key areas: 1) Rates and Payment : examining and developing more consistent rate structures, and procurement and payment policies; 2) Quality and Workforce Development: streamlining program standards and requirements, drafting a workforce development plan, and developing a school readiness assessment system; and 3.) Access and Coordination : developing a coordinated, integrated, and streamlined process for accessing information and assistance from EEC. At the Board meeting on October 5, the Commissioner laid out the challenges that parents and providers have in navigating the current maze of administrative policies and procedures, stressing the necessity of building a new system that balances improvements to quality, access, rates, and recognizing the strengths of a mixed system of public and private providers, including family child care. To view the full presentation, click here: http://www.eec.state.ma.us/docs/BEECPublicPolicy20051005.pdf.
 
- EEC Launches Fact-Finding Study of the Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&R), and the Community Partnerships for Children (CPC)
In an effort to inform the policy project work described above and comply with Legislative requirements, EEC has engaged Public Consulting Group Inc., of Boston (PCG) to conduct an independent analysis of the CCR&R agencies and the CPC grant program. PCG has extensive knowledge of Massachusetts state government, as well as expertise in early childhood management and operations assessment. The results are critical to informing EECís work during this transition year to develop recommendations for an integrated and coordinated system of early education and care. Information is being gathered through site visits and an on-line survey, and will include costs for various services, areas of particular strength, opportunities for reducing duplication, data collection methods, and decision-making processes. Initial findings from the study will be presented to the Board of Early Education and Care at its December 6 meeting.
 
- EEC Working with Board of Higher Education on a New Scholarship Program
The Massachusetts Legislature allocated $1 million in FY06 for scholarships to help early childhood educators earn Associates or Bachelor degrees. The legislation requires the Boards of Higher Education and Early Education and Care to work together in developing guidelines and implementing this pilot program. Work is underway to present a proposal to both Boards at their November meetings, so that scholarships may be made available for students in the coming semester. Please stay tuned for more information!
 
- Board of Early Education and Care Meetings

On Wednesday, October 5, 2005, the Board of Early Education and Care received a comprehensive update on the work of the new agency, including spending plans and initiatives for FY06 and the status of the key policy projects outlined aboveThe presentation builds on three key points: 

  • Providers accepting state subsidies bear additional administrative burden and inequitable reimbursement;
  • Differing eligibility criteria and inconsistent information lead to uneven access for families; and
  • Administrative policies and requirements are not aligned to support continuous quality improvement.

To view a copy of the presentation from the October 5, 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

 
- Hurricane Relief Efforts
EEC is grateful to the many volunteers who have helped support the families relocated to Massachusetts as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Approximately 200 evacuees, including 20 children, have been living at Camp Edwards, on Cape Cod. EEC worked with Horizons for Homeless Children to set up an on-site play space to provide positive play opportunities for children, and respite for parents. Many of the preschool-aged children are also now enrolled in Head Start or another early education and care setting thanks to the efforts of the Child Care Network of Cape Cod & the Islands and Cape Cod Child Development. EEC recently issued a policy to ensure that families relocated to Massachusetts, and families of military personnel deployed to provide emergency relief services to the Gulf Coast have immediate access to early education and care programs. To view a copy of the policy memo, visit: http://www.eec.state.ma.us/docs/Katrina.html
 
- EEC Communication Efforts and Email Distribution List
In addition to this newsletter and the regular monthly Board meetings, EEC is developing a communication and outreach plan to give the early childhood community, and all other key stakeholders, every opportunity to learn about and inform the many policy decisions ahead. In the meantime, if you know anyone that would like to be added to our email distribution list, to receive regular updates on EECís work, please forward them this email or have them join our distribution list at: http://www.eec.state.ma.us/usernews.aspx
 
Quote of the Month
"If you want to truly understand something, try to change it."
~Kurt Lewin, Psychologist
 
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