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PRESS RELEASE- Downing Votes to Advance Early Education and Child Care Programs in the Commonwealth: Bill establishes universal pre-kindergarten program rejected by former Administration
July 11, 2008

Boston- The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday reintroduced the Early Education and Care initiative, including a universal pre-kindergarten program that was vetoed by former Governor Mitt Romney in 2006. The legislation seeks to improve the coordination, quality and accessibility of early education services and complete the transfer of duties of the former Office of Child Care Services to the Department of Early Education and Care.

 

“Time and again, studies show that children build language, literacy and social skills at greater rates when exposed to quality early education programs,” noted Downing, a co-sponsor of the bill.  “This legislation sets the stage for providing each and every child in Massachusetts with the academic advantage they deserve.”

 

Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said the bill addresses a pressing need to advance high-quality early education for the children of the Commonwealth. 

 

“Children who participate in quality early education programs are less likely to be held back in school and more likely to graduate from high school and college,” President Murray said. “I’m glad we finally have an Administration that sees the value of these early years in the education process, and I look forward to seeing this bill become law.  With this plan in place, we will secure a long-term investment in the education of our children.”

 

The bill gives the Department of Early Education and Care the necessary tools and support to provide high-quality, universally-accessible early education and care programs. One of the highlights of the bill is to establish the Massachusetts universal pre-kindergarten program.

 

Other provisions of the bill include:

 

  • Requires the development of program quality standards and requirements for early education providers, and for infant/toddler, pre-school, early elementary and older school age children. The Department shall also develop learning standards and developmental benchmarks that build off of these standards and curriculum frameworks.

 

  • Requires the Department to develop comprehensive assessment systems of early education and care programs, including kindergarten readiness.

 

  • Provides regulatory authority for statewide child care licensing and approval.

 

  • Imposes strict penalties for providing child care without a license.

 

  • Requires the development of a 5-year master plan for early education and care.

 

  • Requires the Department of Early Education and Care to report on efforts to reduce expulsions from early education and care programs.

 

  • Creates a statewide advisory council that includes legislative and executive appointees, as well as numerous stakeholders in the field of early education and care.

 

This bill will now go to the House of Representatives for their consideration. 

 

 

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