The Department of Early Education and Care shall establish a process to assure that children in gateway cities and other low-income neighborhoods or communities have access to the Massachusetts universal pre-kindergarten program. This program provides high quality pre-school programs that promote school readiness and positive outcomes for children and is designed to be universally accessible to children from the age of 2 years and 9 months until they are kindergarten eligible.
In working to implement this process, the Department shall prioritize areas that serve the most children at risk and/or are likely to attend elementary schools that have been targeted for improvement by either the state or the local community. The Department shall work with the local communities and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to move this process forward.
Within municipalities and school districts targeted herein to expand the Massachusetts universal pre-school program, a community committee shall be created, if there is none existing, representative of all the stakeholders in the early education process, including but not limited to early education providers (public, private, non-profit) and staff, parents, community, labor and business leaders, public officials, public schools, and human service agencies serving children and families. The Committee shall be co-chaired by the chief executive of the municipality and the Superintendent of schools, or their designees. The purpose of this committee shall be to enhance community-wide capacity building efforts within statewide parameters established by the board of early education and care and to facilitate interaction with other communities participating in this. The Department shall convene representatives of these community committees so that as a group, they are able to learn from each other, promote best practices, and build a base of knowledge to assist each other, other communities, and the Department to move forward with the provision of high quality, universally accessible pre-K programs throughout the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts universal pre-kindergarten program development process shall assure that all programs fall within the quality standards established by the Massachusetts quality rating and improvement system
The Department shall utilize the federal funds for pre-K grants received in 2015 as designated in the federal grant for the designated purposes. For communities not covered in the Federal grant, the Department shall utilize state funds, subject to appropriation, or private funds to convene the community committees; to provide grants to enhance teacher quality; enhance compensation of early education teachers, moving it on a par or equal to that of public school teachers; enhance program quality through participation in the Massachusetts quality rating and improvement system; enhance program ability to interpret and use assessment data effectively; enhance developmentally appropriate practices; incorporate ancillary services into the program; facilitate or provide access to wrap-around services for low-income working families.
Consistent with commitments under the federal grant, the Department shall, with an appropriate research partner, establish a process to evaluate the outcomes of the Massachusetts universal pre-kindergarten as described herein and shall utilize this data to inform its recommendations for future policies and actions.
The Department of Early Education and Care shall report yearly, by December 31, the progress made on implementing this program to the House Ways and Means Committee, to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and to the Joint Committee on Education.
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