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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 15, 2001
Contact:Jonathan Palumbo, 781-338-3105

MA Early Education is High Quality: Needs Added Support for Staff

Malden - A Massachusetts Department of Education report released today shows that the state has some of the highest standards for early care and education in the country, but that high staff turnover could mean that children are not adequately supported in their earliest years.

The report, "Securing Our Future," addresses the state of child care, preschool, kindergarten and family support programs, and highlights many of the Commonwealth’s successful programs. The report also details how high quality programs support children’s cognitive and social-emotional development.

Massachusetts has the highest percentage and number of early care and education programs accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in the country, as well as some of the most stringent child care licensing standards.

However, the report details a looming crisis in staffing and training for childcare and preschool programs due to high turnover. Data collected from local providers show a 35 percent turnover rate in childcare and Head Start programs and reports further that programs that are the most heavily subsidized have the fewest staff with bachelor’s degrees.

"Young children need to have positive and stable relationships with teachers in order to learn and develop," said Helen Charlupski, who chairs the Early Childhood Advisory Council to the Board of Education, which issued the report. "Right now we are concerned about very young children, but this crisis threatens the future as well, because many children may be unprepared when they get to public school."

The high turnover rate and lack of training is attributed to low salaries. Teachers in childcare centers and Head Start earn between $7.89 to $12.08 per hour on average in contrast to $30.49 per hour earned by public school preschool teachers, according to the report. There are 217,000 children in early care and education programs, equaling 68 percent of all young children in the state. Of the children in early care and education programs, 47 percent are in early learning centers, including Head Start, 12 percent are in family child care homes and nine percent are in public preschool programs.

Some of the successful areas highlighted include: The Community Partnership for Children program, an innovative program which allocates $104 million for child care and preschool programs for 20,500 three and four year olds; increased development of full day kindergarten programs; family support programs covering almost half the state and a new home-based early literacy program.

Areas recommended for additional funding and programmatic support include making quality early childhood programs affordable for parents and attractive to staff by funding competitive wages that recognize quality and are comparable to public school teachers.

Commissioner of Education David P. Driscoll said, "This report is most valuable in pointing out the truly outstanding childcare programs, Head Start and public school programs, and it clarifies the need for attracting and retaining high quality staff. We are very fortunate to have the active support of the Governor and Legislative leadership in emphasizing early childhood education as a top state priority. I believe that working together in collaboration, we will find ways to address the issues raised in this report."

Last Updated: May 15, 2001
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