Focus On MA Department Of Early Education And Care
Jun 12, 2008
In 2005, Massachusetts created a new Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) that consolidated multiple agencies and multiple funding streams into one department with a primary focus on early childhood education and care. While the EEC was created with a focus on implementing universal pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year olds, it is responsible for early education and child care services for families with children from birth to age 14. The mission of the EEC includes:
- overseeing a system of high-quality early education and care,
- developing and implementing universal pre-kindergarten for all children,
- designing a statewide school readiness assessment and preschool evaluation, and
- creating a system to address the education, training, and compensation of the early childhood workforce.
Strategies for Children and the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy have released A Case Study of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care which provides an explanation of the history, successes, and political and logistical challenges of the creation and formation of the EEC.
Prior to the creation of the EEC, the Department of Education and the Office of Child Care Services had primary responsibility for independently overseeing funding for early education and child care programs. Programs that received funding from these agencies often had multiple regulations and reporting requirements. Not only were their funding and requirements different, but different agencies had different missions and philosophies that had to be reconciled. There was a tension between programs that focused on child care as a parental work support and others that saw the education of the child as a focal point.
The report suggests a number of lessons learned for other states that may be thinking of creating new departments or consolidating agencies in a similar way. Despite the challenges of undertaking a major government reorganization, most people interviewed for the report, say that the new governance structure is an improvement over the former structure. Respondents would like to see more of a focus on quality and more attention to building the workforce and connections with higher education.