On July 31, 2008 Governor Deval Patrick signed An Act Relative to Early Education and Care (Chapter 215 of the Acts of 2008) into law at a State House ceremony. This was an historic day for young children and families in Massachusetts. The landmark legislation, sponsored by Education Committee Co-Chairs Senator Robert Antonioni and Representative Patricia Haddad, was passed unanimously by both the House and Senate and formally establishes the Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) Program in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Read EEA's press statement on the bill being signed into law. [PDF]
Summary of An Act Relative to Early Education and Care
An Act Relative to Early Education and Care is a comprehensive statute for the effective development of a coordinated system of early education and care in Massachusetts, greatly enhancing the Department of Early Education and Care's (EEC) original enabling statute. Specifically, it codifies in state law, and helps shape the future directions for, a broad range of programs and initiatives, such as the Massachusetts Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) Program, that EEC has been developing and implementing over the last three years.
Furthermore, the bill creates a state advisory council on early education that will work to establish formal quality and performance standards to allow for continuous program improvement. It directs EEC to plan for and address the unique needs of families with infants and toddlers. It also further delineates powers and duties of the Board, Department, and Commissioner of EEC and makes technical changes necessary for the effective development of a coordinated and streamlined early education and care system.
View the summaries of key substantive sections. [PDF]
The Legislative History of An Act Relative to Early Education and Care
The goal of the Early Education for All (EEA) Campaign, an initiative of Strategies for Children, Inc., is to make high-quality early education, delivered through a mixed system of private and public providers, available to all Massachusetts children, beginning with ages three through five. To achieve this goal, EEA built a broad-based, statewide coalition to help develop and advocate for early education and care legislation in 2003, significant portions of which were made law under the Fiscal Year 2005 budget. This included the enabling statute which created the first-in-the-nation Board and consolidated Department of Early and Care (EEC) to administer the state’s early education and care system and laid the foundation for voluntary, universally-accessible, high-quality early education.
To build on this foundation and achieve the long-term vision included in the original EEA legislation, a second bill, An Act Establishing Early Education for All was filed for the 2005-2006 legislative session. With supportive testimony from business, early education, and labor leaders, a new version of this bill, An Act Relative to Early Education and Care, received a favorable report from the Joint Committee on Education and was unanimously passed by both the House and Senate. However, Governor Romney vetoed the bill on August 4, 2006, too late for the legislature to override his veto.
An Act Relative to Early Education and Care was re-filed for consideration during the 2007-2008 legislative session, again receiving a favorable report from the Joint Committee on Education. The bill again unanimously passed the House and Senate on May 28, 2008, and July 10, 2008, respectively, and was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick on July 31, 2008.
(Learn about An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency.)