Montgomery County Council’s Preschool Implementation Work Group, Convened by Councilmember Ervin, Will Present Plan March 30 To Improve Preschool Access for Children
County Must Work With Community Providers, MCPS and State to Develop More High-quality, Early Child Care And Educational Programs for Children
ROCKVILLE, Md., March 25, 2009—Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin, chair of the County Council’s Education Committee and advocate for expanded pre-kindergarten services, will join work group co-chairs Kate Garvey, chief of Children Youth and Family Services at the Department of Health and Human Services, and Janine Bacquie, director of the Division of Early Childhood Programs and Services at Montgomery County Public Schools, other work group members and Dr. Craig Ramey, director of the Center for Health and Education at Georgetown University, on Monday, March 30, at 10 a.m. to release the Preschool Implementation Work Group’s recommendations. The event will take place at Montgomery College’s Child Care Center at 51 Manakee Street in Rockville.
High-quality, pre-kindergarten education is a proven strategy for offsetting the challenges of poverty, language, learning disabilities and mobility. Beginning in Fiscal Year 2008, Councilmember Ervin advocated for, and the County Council approved, a pilot program to provide a community-based, year-round, pre-kindergarten program for three- and four-year-olds. This was the first full-day, full-year, bilingual preschool program with support services for children and families in Montgomery County.
“It’s all about creating opportunities for our youngest and most vulnerable children to get the right start,” said Councilmember Ervin, who represents Kensington, Silver Spring, Takoma Park and Wheaton. “The findings and recommendations in this report will provide policy makers with a road map that we can rely on as the State of Maryland provides additional funding for preschool services.”
The work group will formally present its findings to the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday, March 31, at 1:45 p.m.
In December 2007, the Maryland Task Force on Universal Preschool Education released its report to the Governor and General Assembly titled “Preschool for All in Maryland.” The task force recommended developing an overall plan to create and increase access to voluntary, free preschools programs for all four-year-olds in Maryland by 2014.
“For me, it’s about pushing the County to the forefront of the pre-kindergarten movement,” said Councilmember Ervin. “Study after study shows that this is the right thing to do for our children and the community. Giving children the right start saves the county resources in the long run.”
At the request of Councilmember Ervin, the County Council created a Preschool Implementation Work Group to determine how the County can work collaboratively with the state to develop high-quality, early child care and education programs for all Montgomery County four-year olds.
“We have convened a group that is extremely knowledgeable about what is needed to implement and expand a variety of high-quality programs on a county-wide basis, said Councilmember Ervin. “The County needs to be ready with a blueprint on how to build capacity and implement the state’s recommendations.”
“Montgomery County is very fortunate to have a strong early childhood community that is committed to assuring that our youngest children receive the highest quality care,” said Kate Garvey, work group co-chair and chief of Children Youth and Family Services at the Department of Health and Human Services. “This Task Force exemplified the collaborative spirit of the County and produced significant recommendations that will truly impact the school readiness of thousands of children. The Department of Health and Human Services stands ready to assist in the implementation of these recommendations when the State resources become available.”
Representatives from the Montgomery County Public Schools also support the Council’s efforts on this issue. “The Board of Education and Superintendent Weast are committed to collaborating with early childhood stakeholders through this process to ensure a high-quality early learning experience for all young children, regardless of setting, that will provide them with a strong foundation, and success in school,” said Janine Bacquie, co-chair of the work group and director of the Division of Early Childhood Programs and Services at Montgomery County Public Schools.
Some of the important findings and recommendations from the work group include:
• All types of preschool and childcare providers need to be engaged in efforts to expand preschool opportunities for children
• Access to voluntary, high-quality preschool services in a variety of settings must be maintained and expanded to meet the diverse needs of all four-year-old children
• A local review panel should be created to provide county-wide coordination of preschool services
• Full funding needs to be maintained for existing early childhood services
• Future preschool expansion should be in areas with the greatest need and a community needs assessment should be conducted prior to expansion
• Transportation should be a component of program expansion because many families cannot access preschool services if transportation is not available
• There is a need to grow the pool of high-quality preschool providers
• Preference for expanded professional development funding should be for providers serving high needs areas and for those providers who are closest to certification for center-based programs and family care providers closest to national accreditation
• Encourage the state and higher education institutions to develop a higher education system that meets the needs of the County’s early childhood workforce
• The County should develop a pilot model for delivering “Preschool for All” services through family child care providers that aligns with the state pilot project
Members of the work group include: Lindsey Allard, National Association for the Education of Young Children, Montgomery County Chapter; Khadra Ayorinde, Family Child Care Association of Montgomery County; Janine Bacquie, Montgomery County Public Schools; Julie Bader, Montgomery County Public Schools; Gene Counihan, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce; Jennifer Devine, Montgomery County Commission on Child Care; Clara Floyd, Maryland State Teachers Association; Kate Garvey, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services; Rolf Grafwallner, Maryland State Department of Education; Mary Lang, Universities at Shady Grove; Jaclyn Lichter, Service Employees International Union; Traci McLemore, Montgomery County Collaboration Council; Jane Seffel, Organization of Child Care Directors; John Surr, National Association for the Education of Young Children, Montgomery County Chapter; and Brad Stewart, Montgomery College.
“I want to thank the members of this work group for their outstanding report,” said Councilmember Ervin. “Each work group member is committed to helping improve the lives of children and their efforts are greatly appreciated.”