For Immediate Release - April 15, 2011

Massachusetts Celebrates "Week of the Young Child"

Early Education and Care Commissioner Sherri Killins highlights ongoing statewide efforts to improve opportunities for all children

Early Education and Care Commissioner Sherri Killins, and Joint Committee on Education House Chair Representative Alice Peisch of Wellesley, visit Knowledge Beginnings in Wellesley

Early Education and Care Commissioner Sherri Killins reads to children at the Knowledge Beginnings program in Wellesley.

BOSTON - Friday, April 15, 2011 -- The Commonwealth of Massachusetts marked several events during "Week of the Young Child", held this year from April 10-16, as a national annual celebration to recognize the various early childhood programs and services across the country. The Commonwealth's participation this year included several events to highlight the state's ongoing efforts to provide high quality learning opportunities for all children as a foundation for future success and collective prosperity for the Commonwealth.

Early Education and Care Commissioner Sherri Killins and Joint Committee on Education House Chair Representative Alice Peisch of Wellesley kicked off the week with a site visit to Knowledge Beginnings in Wellesley to meet with the educators and staff and to tour the classrooms. Commissioner Killins and Representative Peisch participated in literacy activities with the children, including read books and talking to children about their education.

"A child's best shot at success and developing the knowledge and skills necessary to become a lifelong learner is access to high quality early education and care programming in the earliest years," said Commissioner Killins. "Massachusetts is firmly committed to expanding opportunities for children and increasing quality and accountability across all programs."

"Programs like Knowledge Beginnings are working hard to increase the quality of their already impressive Early Education and Care, utilizing key supports such as professional development for educators" said Representative Peisch. "I am especially happy to see programs like this providing access to all children. Through the efforts of programs and practitioners such as the ones we met today, we are improving our chances of closing the achievement gap in the early years, leading to greater school readiness for all students."

Increasing access to high quality early education and care and out-of-school programs is a key component in the Patrick-Murray Administration's efforts to close achievement gaps and ensure all students are prepared for future success. Increasing early literacy rates is a top goal. Research shows that experiences early in life shape the architecture of a child's brain. Positive interactive relationships with adults and the community help to build the healthy foundation for a child's future learning that leads to a lifetime of productivity. By targeting support and resources to identify and spread best practices, the Department of Early Education and Care is committed to preparing students for achieving high expectations and assisting families with supporting their children's learning.

On Thursday, Commissioner Killins will participate in Boston's 2011 Early Childhood summit to celebrate Boston's progress toward achieving universal school readiness for all children, and then in the evening will host a community dialogue in Taunton with early education and care providers, community programs, and families in the Southeast region. The forum will highlight key elements in improving children's achievement, including EEC's recent launch of quality rating and improvement system for programs, the early childhood information system in development, and family engagement to support literacy development. On Friday, Commissioner Killins will meet with practitioners, investors, researchers and residents Massachusetts' Promise Neighborhoods on their efforts to prepare children for future academic and workforce success. EEC is supporting the three sites in Worcester, Lawrence and Boston in their work to ensure that children have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community support.

The activities highlighted during the week of the young child are examples of the ongoing efforts year round to support children's development through access to high quality early learning experiences during the critical early years that provide the foundation for their future success. To this end, the Department works to increase educator competencies, improve program quality, support parents and families as their child's first teacher, and promote community engagement efforts. Examples of these efforts include a partnership with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to align standards, assessment, and accountability across sectors, and the implementation of a new Professional Qualifications Registry to collect real-time information on over 32,500 educators. Both efforts are key strategies of the Patrick-Murray Administration's agenda to improve opportunities for all children.