|For Immediate Release|
|Wednesday, March 3, 2004|
|Contact:||Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106|
Early Education Council Calls For Agency Partnership to Improve Programs
MALDEN - Existing early childhood programs can flourish and will better serve the needs of young children and their families when the three agencies involved in early education services coordinate resources and work together, according to recommendations by the Council on Early Education and Care.
The Council, comprised of the Commissioners of Education, Child Care Services, and Public Health, was charged last year with developing a comprehensive, high quality and accessible system of early childhood programs. The three Commissioners held five open forums to solicit input from the public, and met regularly between August 2003 and February 2004 before releasing their recommendations on Wednesday.
“The recommendations in this report are an exciting first step to truly reforming the Early Education and Care system in Massachusetts,” said OCCS Commissioner Ardith Wieworka. “We all share a common goal: to set the stage to ensure our children benefit from the best possible care and educational experiences.”
Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll agreed.
“When we sat down to draft these recommendations we didn’t think of our own agency interests, but what is best for children and their families,” he said. “Parents do not need to know or worry about which agency is responsible for the oversight of their child’s services, they should simply rest assured that their child is receiving high quality learning experiences by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."
Department of Public Health Commissioner Christine Ferguson noted that the Council’s work will continue.
“The work we have done to enhance programs for 3- and 4-year-olds is critical, and I look forward to our future discussions about services for children from birth to age 3 and their families,” she said.
The recommendations call for significant steps to be taken, including to:
- Create an unprecedented joint program monitoring plan, that will improve quality and reduce the regulatory burden on providers.
- Replace the existing multiple sets of standards and guidelines currently used by the agencies with a single set of “Commonwealth” program standards for preschool programs.
- Strengthen the role that parents play in the early education and care of their children by providing information and training opportunities.
- Create a single data collection system to take pressure off local programs that currently have to file the same data to multiple agencies in various ways.
- Establish opportunities for advancement within the early childhood field.
In the coming months the Council intends to continue to encourage further discussion, input, and work from parents, professionals in the field, and local leaders.