The Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care voted at its April meeting to revise child care subsidy regulations, effective July 1. Roughly 56,000 children currently receive state financial assistance for early education and care.
The vote came a year after the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) released proposed amendments for public comment. The regulations approved last week encompass both substantive and technical changes to subsidy regulations and reflect feedback received over the past year. (See the PowerPoint presentation EEC Regulation Reform: Subsidy Revisions and Final Draft.) One substantive change requires children benefiting from state subsidies to regularly attend their early education and care programs or risk termination. Another changes the methodology for determining the eligibility of self-employed parents. The EEC board, in its April 10 vote, approved the proposed regulation revisions, with two amendments. The first amendment stipulated how parents whose children receive child care subsidies may include study time in calculating their eligibility. The second amendment called for EEC Commissioner Sherri Killins to return to the board within 90 days with a management plan for the subsidy appeal process.
The board also heard a presentation — Alignment of Inclusive Preschool Learning Environments with the Quality Rating and Improvement System ( QRIS) – about state-funded grants designed to support creating inclusive environments for preschool children with disabilities. Proposed conditions for fiscal year 2013 would require grant-funded programs to have reached Level 2 in QRIS by January 1, 2013. The board is expected to vote on the proposed conditions at its May meeting. In FY11, this funding supported 6,002 children, including 2,209 with disabilities. In FY12, the grants supported 5,512 children, of whom 3,323 have disabilities.
In other board news, a panel discussed early childhood assessment systems. Representatives of the companies that made Work Sampling and Teaching Strategies Gold, two of the three EEC-approved formative assessments, described how their products can be used to enhance the quality of learning environments and instruction for both children and educators. Hanna Gebretensae, director of early childhood education programs at Wheelock College’s Aspire Institute, spoke about the professional development on the three formative early childhood assessments that EEC has contracted Aspire to conduct around the state. Wayne Ysaguirre, president and CEO of Associated Early Care and Education, told the board that formative assessments are helping early educators in Associated programs better understand the children they serve, create curriculum to accommodate children’s individual strengths and weaknesses, and increase parent engagement. (See the PowerPoint presentations Early Education and Care Assessment Systems and Formative Assessment, as well as panelist bios.)
Commissioner Killins updated the board about the rate reform analysis currently underway to determine the cost of providing quality services across the state. EEC staff are one-third of the way through the 18-month process. Killins expects to present findings of the analysis at the board’s December 2012 meeting. The commissioner also thanked the Quabbin and Barre public school districts for hosting her earlier in the week to discuss alignment of pre-kindergarten to third grade.
EEC Board Chairman J.D. Chesloff told the board that Secretary of Education Paul Reville has established an Educator Preparation Initiative, which will bring together two board members apiece from EEC, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Department of Higher Education.
The next EEC board meeting will be on Tuesday May 8, 2012, from 1-4 p.m. at the Department of Early Education and Care, 51 Sleeper Street, Boston.