For Immediate Release - December 09, 2013

Patrick Administration Launches "Partners in Public Service" - Early Education Meeting in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD – In further demonstration of Governor Patrick's commitment to be the Governor of the entire Commonwealth, the Patrick Administration is hosting a "Partners in Public Service" series across Western Massachusetts.  The first meeting was held today at the Greater Springfield YMCA and featured an open dialogue with Early Education and Care Commissioner Thomas Weber.

“Families, educators, and programs are essential partners to the Department of Early Education and Care's mission of service to children and families.  I highly value their input and the role that each plays in promoting positive outcomes for children and youth," said Commissioner Weber.  "I thank our regional partners for their service to children and families as well as their continued efforts to facilitate open dialogue on our shared work."

The "Partners in Public Service" series is comprised of three topical community-based civic engagement meetings that provide the public with the opportunity to hear directly about the Patrick Administration's key priorities.  In today's discussion Commissioner Weber spoke with educators, programs, families, and other stakeholders in the field about the Governor's priority of closing the achievement gap.  The dialogue included exchanges about promising practices and accomplishments in the region, future action plans, and recommended areas for growth and additional investment.

Governor Patrick has advanced early education and care as an up-front strategy for preventing academic gaps from forming and ensuring students' proficiency by third grade.  The Commonwealth's FY14 budget included a new $15M appropriation towards the goal of providing access to high quality early education and care for all infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers currently on the waiting list for financial assistance.

Prior to the first Partners in Public Service event, the Governor’s Western Massachusetts office issued a survey to early education and care and out of school time providers in the region to identify topics of interest and inform the discussion.  For the past nine months, Commissioner Weber has focused on engaging constituencies in the process of implementing a series of improvements to make the system of early learning in Massachusetts even stronger.

“We’re excited to meet Commissioner Weber and honored to host Monday’s Partners in Public Service meeting," says Kirk Smith, President & CEO, YMCA of Greater Springfield. "The Governor’s vision for civic engagement is not only innovative, it’s equally as inspiring.  The YMCA of Greater Springfield is committed to being a true community partner in this effort, and we aspire to educate more and more of our young students in the early stages of their development.”

In September Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew H. Malone appointed Commissioner Weber to his position at the unanimous recommendation of the Board of Early Education and Care.  Commissioner Weber served as Acting Commissioner of Early Education and Care for the six months prior to his appointment.

###

About the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care

The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) provides services for children and youth in Massachusetts through a mixed delivery system, which includes, but is not limited to public, private, non-profit and for-profit preschools, child care centers, nursery schools, preschools operating within public and private schools, Head Start programs and independent and system affiliated family child care homes.  EEC is responsible for licensing early education and care and out-of-school time programs and adoption and placement agencies throughout Massachusetts and for administering child care financial assistance to low-income families with children birth to 13 years of age.  In addition, EEC provides support for information and referral services, inclusive programming for children with special needs, parenting and family support, and professional development opportunities for educators in the early education and out of school time fields.  EEC is committed to building an improvement process that addresses both the performance of programs and the developmental outcomes of young children.  Research shows that high quality early education promotes positive child development and that enriching out of school time learning experiences can level the playing field for low-income and at-risk children.  To raise awareness of the critical importance of fostering the cognitive, social and emotional development of young children by emphasizing its future impact on economic development and prosperity for everyone in Massachusetts, EEC launched the Brain Building in Progress campaign.  For more information about EEC’s programs and services, visit www.mass.gov/eec.  For more information on the science of brain building and the importance of healthy child development, visit www.brainbuildinginprogress.org