The Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care welcomed its newest member, Mary Walachy, executive director of the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation in Springfield. Under Walachy’s leadership, the foundation launched Cherish Every Child, a citywide initiative to ensure that children enter kindergarten ready to succeed, and the citywide Reading Success by Fourth Grade campaign. Walachy also serves as co-chair of Homes Within Reach, Springfield’s plan to end homelessness. She is a board and executive committee member of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and a trustee and member of the coordinating council of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Plan for Progress. The Davis Foundation has been a longtime partner and supporter of our work, and Mary Walachy serves on the Advisory and Policy Committees of our Early Education for All Campaign.
EEC Board Chairman JD Chesloff welcomed Walachy as a “tremendous advocate for children.” Secretary of Education Paul Reville called her a “very visible leader in education.” Chesloff and Reville also thanked Mary Pat Messmer for her service on the board.
The EEC board also voted to allocate $800,000 for the second round of fiscal year Universal Pre-Kindergarten grants, which, as I noted in yesterday’s post, are open to new applicants as well as existing UPK programs. This year’s open competitive grants are being awarded under new guidelines that align UPK with the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System.
The board also discussed plans to review information contained in the department’s wait list to determine families’ need for access to child care. EEC will continue to monitor the amount of time children are on the wait list prior to receiving services and seeks to better understand parents’ choices regarding program type and geography. The review is also designed to help EEC understand the impact of policy decisions on the wait list.
The board heard a panel discussion on community support grants that support strategic planning for birth-8 assessment, screening and curriculum alignment. The panel members were David Thomas, early childhood coordinator for the Barnstable Public Schools; Rita Celia Triumph, an Early Head Start grantee in Taunton; and Dr. Anne McKenzie of the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative.