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COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
Report of the Massachusetts Early Education and Care Council
The Massachusetts Legislature and the Governor created a Council on Early Education
and Care (Council) to coordinate resources and public funding streams for early
education and care. On the Council are David Driscoll, Commissioner of Education,
Christine Ferguson, Commissioner of Public Health, and Ardith Wieworka,
Commissioner of the Office of Child Care Services. The goals for the Council, as
defined by the legislation, are to:
1 . Improve state and local coordination and oversight of early education and care
programs and services. Evaluate the advisability of creating a board of early
education and care with oversight of some part or all of publicly-funded early
education and care in the Commonwealth.
2. Increase alignment of policies and operations.
3. Strengthen parent education and involvement.
4. Create an effective data collection system.
5. Establish the appropriate balance between funding for direct service, quality
enhancement, and administration.
6. Ensure the creation of a workforce system to support the education, training, and
compensation of teachers.
The Council met regularly between August 2003 and February 2004. Five public forums
were held throughout the Commonwealth to solicit input from the field. 397 individuals
attended the forums. Oral testimony was given by 130 people representing child care
providers, public schools, family child care providers (independent and system), Head
Start, parents, higher education, Massachusetts Family Networks, Early Intervention,
professional associations, advisory groups, labor unions, Child Care Resource and
Referral agencies, Community Partnerships for Children councils, the Legislature, health
educators, special education staff, businesses, and others. Written comments were
received from an additional 50 individuals and groups. The Council members have also
consulted with other groups and individuals. A summary of the comments submitted to
the Council may be found in Appendix B.
Council Vision Statement
The Council is committed to developing a comprehensive, high quality, accessible
system of programs and services for young children through the age of five and their
families in collaboration with other involved agencies and groups.
Massachusetts Early Education and Care Council \
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Based upon discussions among the Commissioners and review of the testimony and
written comments received, the Council developed the major recommendations across six
broad areas outlined in this report. While the focus of this report is primarily on services
for three- and four-year olds, the Council heard about the need to address services for
infants and toddlers as well. Therefore, the Council has made some recommendations
related to the birth to three age group and will continue working in the future on other
aspects of the entire early education and care delivery system.
A number of the recommendations can be implemented through changes in procedures
and practices at the agency and local level. Others may need approval, statutory
language, and/or funding support by the Governor and the Legislature. Appendix A lists
the projected timelines and makes note of those recommendations that many need action
by the Governor and the Legislature.
In implementing the recommendations, the Council will involve key constituent groups,
individuals, and agency staff. Many of the implementation details will benefit from
further discussion, input, and work from parents, professionals in the field, and local
1. Improve state and local coordination and oversight of early
education and care programs and services.
The Council was charged with making recommendations to coordinate resources and
public funding streams for early education and care, including but not limited to
programs administered by the Office of Child Care Services (OCCS), the Department of
Education (DOE), and the Department of Public Health (DPH). A related charge was to
evaluate the advisability of creating a board of early education and care with oversight of
some part or all of publicly-funded early education and care in the Commonwealth. The
purpose is to improve educational quality of services, to assure input at the local level on
decision-making, to avoid duplication of effort, and to provide flexible services that meet
the diverse needs of children and families.
a. Create an Oversight Board.
Massachusetts has a number of active and effective early education and care advisory
bodies at the state and local level on which a variety of professionals and consumer
representatives serve. The Council believes that the establishment of an additional
multi-member advisory group is not necessary to improve the coordination and
quality of the early education and care system among state agencies. The current
Council process is demonstrating how ongoing communication and commitment
among senior state officials can reduce bureaucratic barriers, increase efficiencies,
and help strengthen the system of early education and care.
Massachusetts Eariy Education and Care Council 2
The Council recommends that:
• the Early Education and Care Council (Council) continue as an oversight
board, comprised of the Commissioners of Education, Child Care Services,
and Public Health.
• the Council conduct quarterly meetings to coordinate policies, program
administration, and program funding in the early education and care system.
• the Council prepare and issue an annual update to the field, the Governor
and Legislature, and other interested parties.
b. Better Coordinate Resources and Public Funding Streams.
Public comments during the Council forum process discussed the respective roles of
state government and local community leadership. One strong theme of the public
comments received was that there should be a consistent method for public
purchasing and financing of child care in the Commonwealth. Having fair, consistent
rates paid for the same service makes good sense fiscally and administratively.
Opportunities exist to improve child care financing and procedures by having a
single, state-level purchaser. This could also result in streamlining the intake and
enrollment processes for families, as well as aligning the current contracting and
The Council heard both the strengths and weaknesses of having local management
and decision-making by the Community Partnerships for Children (CPC) councils
funded by DOE. Cited benefits include CPC councils' local knowledge base of
resources and needs, the ability to provide onsite technical assistance, and the focus
on communication and coordination among various service providers. Concerns
included potential conflicts of interest, administrative burden of managing funds, and
lack of accountability. Others expressed concern about the lack of consistency across
the state in procedures, practices, and funding decisions by CPC councils. Most of
these concerns were related to the direct role of the CPC councils in purchasing child
In light of these comments, the Council recommends that the agencies work together
to consolidate the administration of intake, enrollment, and direct funding for early
education and care services for three- and four-year olds at the state level. The goal is
to have funding follow children, giving parents choices in program placements. A
plan may need to be developed to ensure continuity of services for children currently
receiving services through CPC funding support.
Specifically, the Council recommends that:
• a portion of the existing grant funding build upon the role of local CPC
councils in conducting local needs assessments and outreach to
parents/families and the broader community, determining family service
needs throughout the community, providing onsite technical assistance and
professional development, and providing other related services.
Massachusetts Early Education and Care Council 3
• OCCS and DOE subsidies for direct services for three-and four-year old
children and their families be managed through a state administered system,
led by OCCS, with funding following eligible children.
• existing funding build upon the role of the Child Care Resource and Referral
(CCR& R) agencies and other entities to implement early education and care
• CPC councils, EI programs, and CCR & R agencies work together to deliver
coordinated training throughout the Commonwealth.
2. Increase alignment of policies and operations.
The Council was charged with increasing regulatory, funding, and administrative
alignment, including but not limited to streamlining administrative paperwork, building
consistency in policies among publicly-funded agencies, and developing appropriate
subsidy eligibility criteria, sliding-fee scales, reimbursement rates, services, regulations,
and standards of quality. The Council examined an array of options and considered both
short-term and long-term strategies to increase alignment of policies and operational
Based on the Council's review, no major program reassignments are recommended in
the three agencies. DOE will continue to administer the CPC program, along with other
school- and family-centered programs for young children. OCCS will continue with
responsibility for its array of child care programs and subsidies. DPH will continue its
administration of the Early Intervention (EI) program. However, the Council does
recommend strategies to improve collaboration and coordination among related DOE,
OCCS, and DPH programs for young children and their families.
The greatest potential for positive impact through improved alignment of state policies
and operations is at the local level. When entering Massachusetts child care centers,
family child care homes, or public school preschool and Head Start classrooms, one
cannot tell which children are subsidized from which state, federal, local, or private
funding source. However, because these programs receive funding from the different
state and federal agencies, they must address each agency's requirements. From the
public comment received, it is evident that this results in too much staff time being spent
on completing different financial, program quality, and performance measure reports,
taking time away from children and families.
a. Adopt uniform program standards and guidelines.
Currently, the DOE has its program standards and guidelines and the OCCS has its
licensing and contracting regulations. While the agencies' standards and regulations
are aligned with one another, there is a perception in the field that programs are being
required to meet different sets of standards. In addition, programs that receive federal
Head Start funds through the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
are required to meet the Head Start Performance Standards.
Massachusetts Early Education and Care Council
To address this concern, the Council recommends that:
• a single set of "Commonwealth" standards and guidelines for early
education and care programs for three- and four-year olds, based on the
recently issued and well-received DOE standards and guidelines for
preschool learning experiences, be adopted by OCCS and DOE and
promulgated in regulation as necessary. Work on these Commonwealth
standards and guidelines will be coordinated with the efforts of the
Massachusetts School Readiness Project, which is developing performance
outcomes to measure school readiness indicators.
• DOE and OCCS work with Head Start and ACF staff to review how such a
set of Commonwealth standards, which incorporate Head Start Performance
Standards, can be used best by Massachusetts Head Start programs.
• DOE, OCCS, DPH, Early Head Start, and ACF work together to develop
uniform Commonwealth standards for programs for infants and toddlers
and for family child care programs.
Streamline the self-evaluation process for early education and care programs,
based on the Commonwealth standards.
Massachusetts early education and care programs participating in quality initiatives
funded by the OCCS and/or the DOE are required to conduct annual and long-term
self-evaluations to ensure ongoing program quality. The instruments currently in use
ECERS (Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale) — OCCS required
for center-based child care
FDCERS (Family Day Care Environment Rating Scale) - OCCS required
for family child care
ITERS (Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale) — OCCS required for
center-based child care
SACERS (School-age Care Environment Rating Scale) — OCCS required
for school-age child care
NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children)
Accreditation— DOE required (by statute, Ch.15, s. 54)
DOE Early Childhood Program Standards - DOE required
In addition, programs supported by federal Head Start funding are required to comply
with and complete the:
Head Start Performance Standards: Annual Program Self- Assessment —
Thus, many early education and care providers must now complete multiple
evaluations, resulting in duplicative and burdensome workloads for local programs.
During the public comment period, program providers urged that the evaluation
process be streamlined so local staff efforts could be focused on completing a single
Massachusetts Early Education and Care Council
The Council recommends that:
• DOE and OCCS develop a Massachusetts evaluation system to measure
program quality throughout the variety of programs for three- and four-year
olds in the Commonwealth receiving state funding.
• the self-evaluation system be based upon the Commonwealth standards and
incorporate the best processes contained in the current self-evaluation
instruments and systems, such as self-study, documentation, and onsite visits.
• the agencies work with regional ACF staff to determine if Massachusetts
Head Start programs can meet the federal annual program self -assessment
requirement through completion of the single Massachusetts program
• a coordinated self-evaluation system for programs serving children ages
birth to three be developed through the Council, including the Early
Coordinate state program and licensure! certification monitoring activities across
The state agencies are charged with assuring that programs receiving state funding
meet licensure, fiscal, and other program requirements. The state monitoring process
should complement the ongoing self-evaluation system that local programs are
required to conduct in order to assess and maintain quality.
Currently, community early education and care providers are required to participate in
monitoring visits from DOE (every 5 years to each CPC council and randomly
selected programs receiving CPC funds) and OCCS (every 2 years for licensing to
each child care center, every 3 years for each family child care provider, and every 3
years for contract monitoring). In addition, a federal review team monitors those
programs receiving federal Head Start funds every 3 years. The EI program monitors
and recertifies every two years. These different monitoring visits result in an
administrative burden for programs, especially for small programs with limited
The Council recommends that:
• DOE, OCCS, and DPH establish a joint program monitoring plan,
coordinated instruments and protocol, and schedules to reduce duplication of
effort at the state and local level. Implementation of the components of the
joint plan should draw upon the skill set of each agency's staff.
• information gathered by an agency during a monitoring visit be shared, as
appropriate, with the other agencies involved with the program.
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d. Establish standard state rates for services and evaluate what the appropriate state
payment level should be in comparison to market rate.
Currently, different rates are used to purchase the same service. The OCCS
establishes a regional rate for the child care services it procures. Local CPC councils,
funded by the DOE, may pay the state rate, set their own Uniform Community Rate,
or pay the market or published rate for each program. This has resulted in a single
early education and care classroom receiving different rates of reimbursement for the
same services for children whose care is subsidized by different state agencies.
Families receiving the higher CPC funding support would often have more choices of
program placement than those receiving OCCS subsidies. It was clear from public
comment that this was perceived as an inequity for both providers and families.
Public comments emphasized that the current OCCS rates are too low. The federal
government recommends that states pay child care subsidy rates at the 75 l percentile
of the market, according to a regional market rate survey of provider rates charged to
private paying parents who are not receiving subsidies. OCCS rates are below the
75 th percentile of the market in most regions of the state. The Council will evaluate
the appropriate level of state rates in comparison to private rates.
The Council recommends that:
• the agencies develop options and cost projections for establishing standard
state rates at an appropriate percentage of private market rates.
• the OCCS competitive bid process for FY05 take a revised state standard
rate into account.
e. Phase in incremental changes in eligibility criteria for child care subsidies to make
them more consistent across funding streams.
Public comments supported increasing the eligibility criteria for child care subsidies,
while continuing to give priority to the families with the greatest financial need.
Support was expressed for bringing DOE and OCCS eligibility criteria together, and
for extending financial eligibility to low-income families earning up to 125% of SMI
(state median income). In addition, DPH, DOE, and OCCS have criteria for
identifying and serving children at risk, which should be aligned and factored into the
eligibility criteria. A phased-in and incremental plan needs to be developed to align
the eligibility criteria and bring consistency to the system. The Commonwealth's
available financial resources and the waitlist that exists now for services at the OCCS
under existing eligibility standards need to be considered as part of this plan.
The Council recommends that:
• the agencies work toward a goal of phasing in a uniform financial eligibility
criteria for child care subsidies.
• the agencies develop a joint definition of children at-risk for eligibility
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3. Strengthen parent education and involvement
Research indicates that effective parent involvement can serve multiple purposes. First,
parents involved in early education and care programs are better informed consumers and
are better able to monitor the quality of services their children receive. Second, for
families at social or economic risk, parent involvement can build skills essential to
success in the workplace and self-sufficiency. Third, and of equal importance, is the
contribution of parent ideas, talent, and effort to the early education and care program
that occurs through effective parent involvement. Based on the testimony received and a
review of current efforts, the Council recommends a greater emphasis on parent
education and involvement.
a. Establish a Commonwealth policy regarding family involvement that describes
meaningful roles and participation of parents in early education and care
Such a policy should build on the experiences of Head Start, Massachusetts Family
Networks, Early Intervention, child care, family child care, and public school
programs in working with families. As a resource, the DOE's Parent, Family, and
Community Involvement Guide, which was developed by its Parent and Community
Education and Involvement Advisory Council, will be used as well as other resources
developed by the Early Intervention system's Parent Leadership Project, especially for
Infant - Toddler programs. Programs receiving state funding will be required to
demonstrate how they are implementing the policy once it is established.
b. Develop a guidebook and expand training opportunities for parents on how they
can nurture their children's development and education.
A guidebook will be developed and made available in English and in the other
languages most commonly spoken by families in the Commonwealth. In practice, the
guidebook will be reviewed with families receiving state subsidies during an
individual thirty-minute parent orientation session held as an integral part of the
intake process between parents and intake counselors in child care programs.
Counselors trained in child development will provide parents with information on
what to expect at various stages of their child's development, how they can
participate in their child's education, and what they can do to encourage their children
to learn and grow. Documents such as the Department of Public Health's Growing up
Healthy, the child health diary available in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, may be
used as a model and as a resource for health-related information and education.
At the forums, the Council heard that families found the training opportunities offered
through CPC councils, the CCR & R agencies, Massachusetts Family Network,
Parent-Child Home, Early Intervention, and Healthy Families programs to be very
valuable. Comments were also provided about the value of the parent involvement
component in Head Start programs. The Council members will work to coordinate
these and other related programs for families offered by their agencies and by Head
Massachusetts Eady Education and Care Council 8
4. Create an effective data collection system to inform policy and
program planning and development.
Comments from the Council forums stated that more efficient collection of data was
important to creating a better informed and more effective early education and care
system. Data are essential to making sound research-based program decisions at the state
and local levels. Opportunities exist to improve the sharing of data among the agencies
on demographics, capacity, children in need of care, etc. The data can also be used for
accountability purposes, evaluating program quality and outcomes, and tracking
expenditures for state and federal reporting purposes. The Council's recommendations
focus on better linkages among existing efforts and enhanced interagency coordination.
a. Establish a single early education and care data collection system and increase
shared responsibility for data collection across agencies.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is developing an electronic child care
information management system (eCCIMS) to track public spending on early
education and care services. Goals for this system are to improve the management
and the allocation of expenditures across agencies in order to maximize the use of
state and federal revenues. The data will be sent to a database maintained by OCCS,
via the eCCIMS system. OCCS will make the data available to the DPH, DOE, and
local CPC councils, as appropriate and within privacy guidelines, in order to guide
policy and program planning and development.
Such a system also has the potential to evaluate the effectiveness of program services
as children move from early education and care programs to the public schools.
Currently, school-age children entering the Commonwealth's public school system
are given a personal state assigned student identifier (SASID) that is used to track
their progress throughout their public school career. This or a similar approach might
be extended to the early education and care system.
The Council recommends that:
• the eCCIMS data system be piloted jointly by OCCS and DOE in late Spring
2004 and phased in during FY05 and FY06.
• mechanisms to extend student identifiers for children in early education and
care programs be explored.
b. Seek legislative language that will allow the DOE and OCCS to share data
regarding the parents and children who receive services provided under programs
funded by the Commonwealth for reporting, program implementation and
evaluation, and policy development purposes.
Currently, the CPC councils collect data on children and families to determine
families' eligibility to receive subsidies and the level of assistance they are eligible to
receive. The data are kept at each local CPC program, and monthly reports are sent to
the DOE summarizing the number of children served by each program each month.
Massachusetts Early Education and Care Council 9
Pursuant to the state Fair Information Practices Act, G.L. c. 66A (FIPA), personal
data regarding the recipients of government services may not be shared between
agencies unless such access is "authorized by statute," or "approved by the data
subject." Due to FIPA's requirements, annual parental consent and sign off has been
needed in order for the CPC council to submit these data directly to the OCCS.
Having state statutory language allowing the sharing of data across agency lines
would reduce paperwork at the local level and insure more accurate data on the
provision of services funded by the Commonwealth.
5. Establish the appropriate balance between funding for direct service,
quality enhancement, and administration.
At the forums and through written comments, it was stated that direct service to children
and training and education for staff were critical components of an effective early
education and care system. The Council was asked to address the need for
comprehensive services for children most likely to face barriers, including those with the
most financial need, homeless children, those with disabilities, and those with other at-
risk factors. Recognizing that some funds for administrative purposes were necessary, it
was suggested that if the state could reduce duplicative requirements across agencies,
more focus and funding could be placed on direct services for children and families,
workforce development, and other quality related initiatives. The Council members kept
these observations in mind in the development of their overall recommendations.
6. Ensure the creation of a workforce system to support the education,
training, and compensation of teachers.
A qualified and experienced early education and care workforce is key to a quality early
education and care system. The DOE's Early Childhood Program Standards, approved by
the Board of Education in April 2003, call for newly hired early education and care
professionals in private and Head Start programs receiving DOE funding to hold an
Associate's degree, that includes 12 credits in early childhood education and a practicum
or equivalent work experience in early childhood education, by 2010 and a Bachelor's
degree, that includes 18 credits in early childhood education and a practicum or
equivalent work experience in early childhood education, by 2017. Staff currently
holding teaching positions would need to meet the higher requirements only if they move
to a new program receiving DOE funding. Currently, approximately 25% of early
education and care professionals in non-public school programs have an Associate's
degree and 35% have a Bachelor's degree.
There was public support for these higher education degree requirements. However,
before further expanding these requirements, it was recommended that the Council also
give consideration to alternative pathways for qualified professionals and to completion
of a shorter-term certification program in early childhood development.
Massachusetts Early Education and Care Council 10
The Council makes the following recommendations:
a. Develop core competencies that are integrated into coordinated professional
credentialing and training processes for early education and care staff (public
school and child care center-based staff).
Training, whether preservice or inservice, should be based on core competencies.
Core competencies are a set of essential knowledge and observable skills that
individuals should know and be able to demonstrate in order to provide quality
services to young children and their families. Early education and care core
competencies are key to ensuring that coursework and/or professional credentials are
linked to a specific body of knowledge.
b. Establish opportunities for advancement along a career ladder.
The Council supports the advancement of early education and care professionals
along a career ladder. The Council will set guidelines for aligning credits offered by
various professional development systems: Professional Development Points (PDP's -
DOE), Continuing Education Units (CEU's - OCCS), Competency Education Credits
(CEC's - DPH ). This alignment will be tied to the core competencies described
Materials will be developed and disseminated to early education and care providers
regarding the options for the early education and care workforce to improve their
qualifications. The Council will collaborate with institutions of higher education and
other partners to support scholarships, loans, and federal loan forgiveness programs.
Strategies will be identified for providing coursework and training for staff in
locations not convenient to institutions of higher education, staff whose work
schedules do not allow attendance at institutions during the workday, or staff whose
first language is not English. Such strategies could include the use of online courses,
offering college courses onsite at child care and other local community facilities at
reduced rates, and offering evening and weekend courses.
c. Work with the Board of Higher Education to implement the newly established
Early Childhood Education Transfer Compact between two- and four-year public
higher education institutions.
Professionals in early education and care frequently begin their education in two-year
degree programs; however, credits earned at two-year institutions have not been
accepted at many four-year institutions. The Board of Higher Education, through its
Joint Admissions Steering Committee and the Presidents' Task Force on Teacher
Education in Public Higher Education, has developed two statewide transfer
compacts — one in elementary education and one in early childhood education. The
purpose of these compacts is to facilitate transfer of credits by community college
students into teacher education programs at four-year colleges. The working group
that developed the Early Childhood Education Compact comprised education faculty,
arts and sciences faculty, transfer administrators from all three segments of public
higher education, representatives from OCCS, and child care providers. In addition
to facilitating articulation into teacher licensure programs, the Compact enables
Massachusetts Early Education and Care Council 1 1
candidates to qualify for OCCS lead teacher certification while in the process of
completing the Associate's Degree. The agreements will be in force for students
entering public institutions beginning in September 2004.
The Council strongly supports this Board of Higher Education initiative and will
work with the BHE to inform the field of this major accomplishment in support of
furthering academic advancement in early childhood education.
d. Ensure that any increases in the standard state rates for services are used to
improve compensation across early education and care settings, including family
child care. .
The Council heard from many about the importance of improving compensation
across early education and care settings. The average annual salary of a center-based
early education and care teacher is $22,640. Currently, there is a 30% annual
turnover rate in center-based child care programs. Having an improved compensation
system would enhance workforce recruitment and retention in child care and Head
Start settings and increase the quality of services provided. The Council will examine
how future rate increases could be targeted to increased compensation.
In closing, the Council members reaffirm their commitment to working together to
develop a comprehensive, high quality, accessible system of programs and services for
young children and their families. Assuring high quality early education and care
programs makes good sense for the Commonwealth because these programs help
children enter school ready to succeed and are essential for working families. We see
their value from the point of view of education, child care, and public health.
Young children are eager learners. In a landmark report entitled Neurons to
Neighborhoods, the National Academy of Sciences found that children are born "wired
for feelings and ready to learn." Early experiences clearly affect brain development.
Young children rapidly develop the foundation on which they will build their language,
intellectual, and emotional capacities.
In this report, the Council is making recommendations for bold actions to coordinate
services and resources, streamline administrative procedures, and reduce fragmentation in
Massachusetts early education and care policies and programs. We look forward to our
agencies continued collaboration to help the Commonwealth's young children develop
the skills, knowledge, and healthy habits that will serve them well for later success in
school and beyond.
Massachusetts Early Education and Care Council 12