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General Laws

Section 3. (a) There shall be a board of early education and care, hereinafter referred to as the board. The board shall set policies and establish regulations related to early education and care programs, and services. The Board shall oversee and supervise the administration of a high-quality system of public and private early education and care. The board shall oversee the development and implementation of a program of voluntary, universally accessible high-quality early childhood education to all preschool-aged children in the commonwealth, subject to appropriation. The board shall oversee the development and management of an educationally sound kindergarten readiness assessment for pre-school children and a comprehensive evaluation of early education and care programs, including the establishment of baseline data to inform the design and implementation of a universally accessible, high-quality early education and care program for all pre-school age children. The board shall oversee the development and implementation of a workforce development system designed to support the education, training and compensation of the early education and care workforce, including all center, family child care, infant, toddler, preschool and school-age providers.

(b) The board shall consist of 11 members, and shall include: the secretary of education, ex-officio, in this chapter called the secretary, or her designee; the secretary of health and human services, ex-officio; and 9 members appointed by the governor. Of the members appointed by the governor, 1 shall be a representative of the business community with a demonstrated commitment to education; 1 shall be an early education and care teacher, selected from a list of 3 nominees jointly provided by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers; 1 shall be a parent or guardian of a child receiving early education and care services or a family childcare provider; 1 shall be a provider of early education and care services with practical experience in the management and administration of early education and care programs; 1 shall be a person with expertise in the evaluation and assessment of successful pre-school education programs; 1 shall be a pediatrician with a focus on child development or a person nationally recognized for research in the field of educational psychology; and 3 shall be additional members.

In making the appointments, the governor shall seek to appoint persons who are from geographically diverse regions of the commonwealth, who are familiar with the differing interests, perspectives and needs of urban, rural and suburban regions, and who reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of the commonwealth’s children. In appointing members from urban areas of the commonwealth, the governor shall seek to appoint people who are familiar with the particular issues of urban areas with high concentrations of low-income families. Each of the members chosen shall have a demonstrated interest in and commitment to early education and care and a commitment to maximizing family choice by preserving a mixed system of high-quality public and private programs.

Six members shall constitute a quorum, and the affirmative vote of 6 members shall be necessary for any action taken by the board.

Of the 9 members appointed by the governor, 1 shall be appointed for a term that is coterminous with that of the governor. Each of the remaining 8 members shall be appointed for a term of 5 years. Vacancies shall be filled consistent with the requirements of section 10 of chapter 30. No member shall be appointed to serve more than 2 consecutive full terms. Service for a term of less than 3 years, resulting from an initial appointment or an appointment for the remainder of an unexpired term, shall not be counted as a full term. Upon expiration of the term of office of an appointed member, a successor shall be appointed in like manner. If an appointed member is absent from any four regularly scheduled meetings, exclusive of July and August, in any calendar year, his office as a member of said board shall be deemed vacant. The chairperson of the board shall forthwith notify the governor that such vacancy exists.

No appointive member of said board shall be employed by or receive regular compensation from the department of early education and care. The governor shall appoint a chairperson to the board. Not more than 2 members of the board shall be employed on a full-time basis by any agency of the commonwealth. Members of the board who are employed on a full-time basis by the commonwealth shall be ineligible to serve as chairperson. The members of the board shall be reimbursed for their necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties. The board shall meet not fewer than 10 times annually at the call of the chairman.

No member of the board shall be found to be in violation of section 6 of chapter 268A for conduct which involves his participation, as a member of the board, in a particular matter before the board which may affect the financial interest of an early education and care program with which the member is affiliated; provided, however, that the member, his immediate family or partner has no personal and direct financial interest in the particular matter; and provided, further, that the affiliation is disclosed to the board and recorded in the minutes of the meeting of the board.

(c) The purposes of the board are as follows:

(1) to consolidate and coordinate resources and public funding streams for early education and care in order to assure the sound and coordinated development of all early education and care programs and services to children;

(2) to encourage family choice by ensuring a mixed system of high-quality public and private programs, with local points of entry, staffed by well-qualified professionals which accommodates ease of movement of children, by parents, between programs and providers without loss of subsidy funding for the family;

(3) to assure parents a decisive role in the planning, operation, and evaluation of programs which aid families in the care of children;

(4) to provide consumer education and accessibility to early education and care resources;

(5) to advance the quality of early education and care programs and services to children in order to support the healthy development of children and preparation for their success in school;

(6) to develop a seamless service delivery system of early education and care programs administered by local, state and federal agencies, with local points of entry;

(7) to develop and manage an effective data collection system to support the necessary functions of a coordinated system of early education and care programs and services to children in order to enable accurate evaluation of its impact;

(8) to respect and draw upon family values and cultural heritage;

(9) to establish the administrative framework for and promote the development of early education and care services in order to provide that such services, staffed by well-qualified professionals, shall be available in every community for all families which express a need for them;

(10) to assure that family foster care or other residential care is provided only when the family itself or the resources available to the family are unable to provide the necessary care and protection to insure the rights of any child to sound development;

(11) to assure that every child shall in all circumstances be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty, abuse, and exploitation; and

(12) to promote the design and implementation of the Massachusetts universal pre-kindergarten program.

(d) The board shall review and approve federal grant applications for early education and care programs and may develop guidelines as needed for the disbursement of such funds in accordance with law. The board shall be the approving authority for all federal grants that are applied to public and private early education and care programs in the commonwealth except for those grant programs for which the department of elementary and secondary education is the state educational agency.

(e) The board shall determine the need for all early education and care programs and services, the extent and availability of those programs and services and the coordination of those programs and services, and shall make recommendations to the secretary of education, the general court, and appropriate secretaries, agencies, departments, or other offices on need priorities and any changes necessary to improve coordination.

(f) The board, under chapter 30A, shall adopt and, from time to time, may revise rules and regulations that may be necessary to carry out this chapter. These regulations shall include age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate standards for the following developmental stages: infant and toddler; pre-school; early elementary; and older school age children. These standards shall be promulgated in consultation with the advisory council on early education and care. These regulations shall also include requirements for licensure as established in section 8. The board shall submit any rules and regulations, or revisions to them, to the joint committee on education and the house and senate committees on ways and means at least 60 days before adoption, except for emergency regulations which shall be filed with the committees the same day they are filed with the secretary of the commonwealth. The joint committee on education shall review and comment on these rules and regulations during that time period.

(g) The board shall submit an annual report to the secretary of education, the secretary of administration and finance, and the clerks of the house of representatives and senate, who shall forward the same to the joint committee on education, describing its progress in achieving the goals and implementing the programs authorized in this chapter. The report shall evaluate the progress made toward universal early education and care for preschool-aged children and toward reducing expulsion rates through developmentally appropriate prevention and intervention services.

The department shall include an annual report on behavioral health indicators that includes estimates of the annual rates of preschool suspensions and expulsions, the types and prevalence of behavioral health needs of children served by the department, the racial and ethnic background of the children with identified behavioral health needs, the existing capacity to provide behavioral health services, and an analysis of the best intervention and prevention practices, including strategies to improve the delivery of comprehensive services and to improve collaboration between and among early education and care and human services providers. The report and any recommendations for legislative or regulatory changes shall be submitted by February 15th to the secretary of health and human services, the secretary of administration and finance, the children’s behavioral health advisory council, the child advocate, and the general court by filing it with the house committee on ways and means, the senate committee on ways and means, the joint committee on education, the joint committee on mental health and substance abuse, the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities, the clerk of the house and the clerk of the senate.

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