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An open letter to the legislature
South End News,
Letter to the Editor by Leo Delaney, February 28, 2008

On behalf of Ellis Memorial Children’s Center, a Massachusetts Universal Pre-Kindergarten Classroom Quality Grant recipient, I am writing to urge Senator Diane Wilkerson and House Speaker Sal DiMasi to make young children and early education the top priority in this year’s state budget. In difficult fiscal times, it is essential that we invest in effective policies that maximize the state’s resources. That is why increasing funding for high-quality early education makes so much sense.

The Massachusetts Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) Classroom Quality Grant has positively impacted Ellis Memorial by providing funds to support teacher training and education, at Ellis all of our Pre-school teachers are in degree programs for early education; we have incorporate a computerized assessment system that tracks stages of development of each child; classroom equipment have been upgraded and expanded to ensure higher quality of care; computers and educational software have been added to each classroom; teacher’s compensation has been increase based on performance and advancing their education; new and expanded curriculum has been implemented in areas of music and movement, pre-reading, and pre-math; all of our Early Education programs are accredited by the National Association of Education for Young Children (NAEYC).

We are proud to be a chosen provider of Universal Pre School. The support that Ellis Memorial receives through this funding initiative has enriched our programs and the children and families we serve.

Research demonstrates that investments in high-quality early education lead to positive outcomes for our children, our communities, and the economy, while yielding a substantial return on taxpayers’ investment.

For example, low-income children who participate in two years of high-quality early education are 40 percent less likely to need special education or be held back a grade, 30 percent more likely to graduate from high school, and twice as likely to go to college.

Governor Deval Patrick has proposed a $15 million increase in the Massachusetts Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program. This is a major step towards building high quality care in the early education system in Massachusetts. However, more needs to be done. Affordable rates for all early education and care programs are essential to the field of early education. Infant and Toddler care is an important part of the early education system and cannot be forgotten. An increase in rates will enable providers to support teacher training and education, provide competitive wages for the teachers that are committed to educating our children and supporting their social emotional growth.

In today’s economic world many working families do not have the luxury of having one parent stay home to care for their infant, which has caused a tremendous increase in the state wait list for care. Supporting Universal Pre School is an important and positive step but our legislative leaders must also look to the entire Early Education and Care system. The Legislature should build upon the Governor’s proposed investments to help ensure that all children – and communities across the state – receive the proven benefits of a high-quality early education.

Leo J. Delaney, CEO
Ellis Memorial
Berkeley Street

617.330.7380          400 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02110