a) There shall be a special commission to make an investigation and study of the cost of administering early education and care services in the commonwealth and make recommendations to enhance said services where appropriate and necessary. The special commission shall consist of the commissioner of early education and care, who shall serve as chair; the secretary of administration and finance, or a designee; the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on education, or their designees, and the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families, and persons with disabilities, or their designees; the ranking minority members of the house and senate on the joint committee on education, or their designees; the child advocate, or a designee; the commissioner of elementary and secondary education, or a designee with experience in elementary school transition; the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Head Start Association, or a designee; a representative of the Massachusetts Early Education and Care Association; the commissioner of transitional assistance, or a designee; the commissioner of children and families, or a designee; and 3 members appointed by the governor, 1 of whom shall be a provider of early education and care, and 1 of whom shall be a social worker with experience in serving families with children; a representative of the Massachusetts Teachers Association; and a representative of the AFT-MA.
(b) The commission shall collect and examine data relative to the need for greater access to affordable, quality early education and care and the timely placement of children in early education and care programs. The commission shall assess the funding and programming needed to enhance early education and care services, including maximizing cost-savings through targeted efficiency measures and entering into public-private partnerships to bolster the timely placement of children in affordable, quality early education and care programs. The commission shall also examine methods for addressing the high cost of child care and expanding the availability of affordable child care services for families receiving transitional assistance, including an examination of methods for determining initial and continuing eligibility for such services.
(c) The commission, in formulating its recommendations, shall take into account the best policies and practices related to financing and administering early education and care in other states and jurisdictions, including but not limited to, those relating to budgeting and assessment strategies. The commission shall be empowered to hold regular public meetings, fact-finding hearings and other public forums as it considers necessary. The commission may, subject to appropriation, hire an independent consultant to conduct the research and assist with the preparation of any recommendations. The commission shall file its recommendations, together with recommendations for legislation, if any, with the clerks of the house of representatives and senate on or before December 31, 2013.