SECTION 1. Section 2 of chapter 64H of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraphs:-
The excise shall not be reduced below the rate of 6.25 per cent for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018.
One and three-quarters per cent of the collections of the excise imposed at a rate of 6.25 per cent shall be distributed to the department of early education and care (DEEC) for the purpose of investing in compensation commensurate with qualifications for early childhood educators and providers. This program shall be known as the early educator rewards program.
SECTION 2. Section 2 of chapter 15D of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after subsection (q), the following subsection:-
(q ½) (a) For purposes of this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:
“Provider”, any private, non-profit or for-profit preschool, nursery school or child care facility.
“QRIS”, Massachusetts Quality Rating and Improvement System as determined by the department of early education and care.
(b) The department shall distribute the 1.75 per cent of the excise collected pursuant to the second paragraph of section 2 of chapter 64H to providers deemed eligible to receive compensation under this section.
(c) Eligible providers shall receive compensation under the early educator rewards program for the purpose of making high-quality early education and care programs and services for preschool-aged children universally accessible to all children in the commonwealth.
The department shall determine provider eligibility based on the following criteria pursuant to the workforce development system at section 5 of this chapter:
(1) core competencies, a common and shared body of knowledge, for all those working in the early education and care fields;
(2) a range of professional development and educational opportunities that provide appropriate coursework and degree pathways for family child care as well as center-based providers at all levels of the career ladder that are available in locations, days and times that are accessible;
(3) credit for prior learning experiences, development of equivalencies to 2- and 4-year degrees, and the inclusion of strategies for multiple pathways for entry into the field of early education and care;
(4) recruitment and retention of individuals into the early education and care workforce who reflect the ethnic, racial, linguistic and cultural diversity of Massachusetts families based on current census data;
(5) incentives and supports for early education and care professionals to seek additional training and education, such as scholarships, stipends, loan forgiveness connected to a term of service in the field, career counseling and mentoring, release time and substitutes;
(6) guidelines for a career ladder or career lattice representing salaries and benefits that suitably compensate professionals for increases in educational attainment and with incentives for advancement, including a salary enhancement program;
(7) a data collection and evaluation system to determine whether the workforce and professional development activities established pursuant to this chapter are achieving recruitment, retention and quality of the workforce goals;
(8) ways to recognize and honor advancement in educational attainment among early educational and care professionals;
(9) professional development opportunities that are provided in languages other than English, and incorporation of these multilingual opportunities into any broader, articulated system that is developed;
(10) alignment of the core competencies, course offerings and other professional development opportunities, where appropriate, with the program quality standards established under section 11 of this chapter; and.
(11) training to identify and address infant, toddler and early childhood behavioral health needs.
If the department determines, pursuant to section 12 of this chapter, that a provider has failed to meet certain performance measures or comply with applicable laws, standards and requirements, such provider shall not be eligible to receive compensation through the early educator rewards program.
The department shall compensate eligible providers that have achieved QRIS level 4 or 5 at a greater rate than providers that have not achieved such levels. Providers that have achieved QRIS level 3 shall be compensated at a greater rate than providers that have achieved QRIS level 2 or 1.
(d) For purposes of attracting and retaining competent teachers, the department shall award grants to providers that have achieved QRIS levels 3, 4 or 5. All compensation awarded to providers pursuant to this subsection shall be used by providers to compensate teachers that have earned their bachelor’s or master’s degrees.
(e) The department shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this section.
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