The Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care has taken another step toward aligning grant programs with the Quality Rating and Improvement System by voting unanimously to align Inclusive Preschool Learning Environment grants with QRIS in fiscal year 2013.
All grantees would be required to have enrolled in QRIS and to be at Level 2 or higher by June 30, 2013. The grant program currently funds inclusive preschool programs for more than 5,512 children in 95 programs, including 3,323 children with disabilities. (See Alignment of Inclusive Preschool Learning Environments with the QRIS)
In other news, the board’s Fiscal Committee reported that the waiting list for child care subsidies, for children from birth to school age, has grown to 36,000.
Also at the May meeting of the EEC board:
- A new working group of experts and board members established to inform EEC’s validation study of QRIS has begun meeting. The Donahue Institute of the University of Massachusetts will conduct the validation study as part of the state’s Early Learning Challenge plan.
- A presentation highlighted recent progress in developing EEC’s information technology systems. These include enhancements to the QRIS online system, Professional Qualifications Registry, voucher management, the Kinder-wait childcare waitlist, and help desk. Improving data systems is one of the projects receiving funding through the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge. However, board member Tom Weber, representing Secretary of Education Paul Reville, cautioned that informational technology for education was cut significantly in the state FY13 state budget recently approved by the House of Representatives. (See Information Technology Support of EEC’s System Building Efforts.)
- A panel of Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grantees from the Southeast region updated the board on their work. CFCE grant priorities are to actively identify and serve “hard to reach” families, provide evidence-based early and family literacy programming, support families through the birth-13 continuum including intentional support into kindergarten, and provide linkages to comprehensive services to support optimal child development for families and early education programs. Barbara Allard, the Fall River Public School CFCE coordinator, highlighted “play and learn” groups, which have been in place for 15 years and currently serve 100 families in three communities. This CFCE also provides weekly family services supports to homeless families living in hotels and motels. Leslie Dunn and Gina McGarrigle of the Avon-based Self Help Inc. CFCE, which serves 26 communities, highlighted its activities calendar, seven-week kindergarten readiness playgroup, and prison story time for inmates and their visiting children, developed with partners at Pondville Correctional Center in Norfolk. Pam Hagberg of PACE Child Care Works, which manages three consolidated CFCE grants covering 11 towns, told the board about its Smooth Sailing into Kindergarten program, a kindergarten-readiness collaboration with New Bedford Public Schools. (See Informal Supports through Community and Family Engagement / Panelist Bios.)
- Board member Joan Wasser Gish reported on the working group on transportation, whose discussions have focused on safety, finance and training. The group is discussing whether to propose an increase in the transportation reimbursement rate, which, if approved, could reduce funds available for child care subsidies. EEC currently pays for the transportation of more 18,000 children a month, at a reimbursement rate of $9 per child per day. The board will discuss the issue further at its retreat.
The next EEC board meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 12, 1-4 p.m., at 51 Sleeper Street in Boston.