Patrick-Murray Administration Announces $2.8 Million to Enhance the Quality of Early Education Programs Statewide
445 programs in 139 communities receive grants
BOSTON - The Department of Early Education and Care, in partnership with Wheelock College, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (UWMBMV), and the Community Advocates for Young Learners (CAYL) Institute, announced today the awarding of a total of $2.8 million in grants to help improve the quality of early education programs statewide.
The funds will enhance work at early childhood centers including supports such as classroom instructional equipment, educator professional development, parent engagement, support for diverse cultures and learning styles, and staff health and safety improvements. The grants are also intended to propel forward early education and care and out-of-school time programs as part of the state's new Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS).
"When children enter kindergarten behind, it is likely they will remain behind, creating an achievement gap that often grows greater over the years," said EEC Commissioner Sherri Killins. "Funding quality programs like these is key to providing children with critical skills such as oral language and literacy development, which are the basis for learning."
Awards range up to $10,000 and are being distributed to 445 total programs in 139 communities representing every region of the state and close to one-third of the Commonwealth's cities and towns. The awards benefit early education and care and out-of-school time programs, family child care programs, public preschool and kindergarten programs, and Head Start programs.
The $2.8 million in Program Quality Improvement grants was secured through the Child Care and Development Fund received by the Commonwealth through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and was distributed through a competitive grant process.
The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) formed a public-private partnership with Wheelock, UWMBMV and CAYL to launch Together for Quality, a collaboration designed to foster a more prosperous Commonwealth through an intentional focus on building high quality learning experiences that lead to increased school readiness and future economic success, which will administer the grant funds and help programs engage in focused activities that enhance the quality of opportunities and intentional educational experiences for children across the Commonwealth.
"We are proud that our Commonwealth, particularly in challenging economic times, continues to keep an eye on the long-term impact of investing in our children as a means to foster the health and well-being of future generations," said Michael K. Durkin, president at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. "This collective effort represents the power of applying public and private resources and expertise toward a common goal of increasing the quality of early education and out-of-school time care across the state."
"This effort dovetails with Wheelock's mission of improving the lives of children and families. Early education and care is the cornerstone for lifetime success, and this funding will pay dividends in the future," said Wheelock College President Jackie Jenkins-Scott.
The Massachusetts QRIS, launched by EEC in January 2011, supports continuous program quality improvement by measuring, collecting, and disseminating information about the quality of early care and education settings including those based in centers, homes, preschools, and elementary schools. The U.S. government is increasingly looking at states' ability to measure and develop program quality as criteria for receiving federal funding.
QRIS definitions of quality may be used by parents to help them choose high-quality programs for their children, and by the state and other stakeholders to focus policy development and funding strategies. Key components of quality that can be applied to all early education and out-of-school time settings include a program's 1) curriculum and learning, 2) environment, 3) workforce qualifications and professional development, 4) leadership, management and administration and 5) family involvement.
A list of organizations that have been identified for a QRIS Program Quality Improvement grant award through the Together for Quality initiative is online at http://www.eec.state.ma.us/docs1/ProgramNameFY2011QRISf.pdf Please note that this list is not final and may be updated.
For more information on the Department of Early Education and Care's efforts on program quality improvement please visit the EEC website at www.mass.gov/eec and click "QRIS: Quality Rating and Improvement System" on the middle left side of the page.