The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is partnering with several community-based early education and care and out-of-school time providers in Boston, Lowell, Somerville and Springfield as an exciting part of a broader effort across the state to create a seamless continuum from early childhood to the public schools. This partnership is a part of a birth to age 8 initiative funded by the four-year, $50 million federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant awarded to Massachusetts to ensure that high-needs children enter school ready to succeed and close an achievement gap that threatens the state’s long-term economic vitality. The community-based programs all strive to meet benchmarks of quality that go well beyond licensing requirements that are among the strongest in the nation. In addition, the public-private partnerships in the participating communities, which are comprised of both formal and informal programs that serve children from birth to age five, feature shared professional development, aligned curriculum and assessment, streamlined data collection and joint family engagement that includes coordinating resources to support parents as their child’s first teacher. The lessons learned in these four cities will help the Commonwealth take a big step forward in creating an education system that runs from birth to college and career. I appreciate the leadership of these communities, as well as other local-level efforts to support an aligned early learning sector for the children and families of the Commonwealth.
Sherri Killins, Ed.D