March 11, 2019
On March 4, General Assembly leaders introduced legislation known as “The Blueprint for Maryland’s future” – a proposal to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for children and families in Maryland. This represents a start of the work of the Kirwan Commission’s proposals.
The Kirwan Commission released an interim report in January, after months of work groups and public hearings.
The commission and the legislation call the early childhood years a priority – through Judy Centers, Family Support Centers, child care and preK.
Because of the advocacy of providers and their associations, Resource Centers, and the members of the Commission, the commission report is full of details about what this would look like. It includes an important (and complex) strategy for mixed delivery, that is, partnership with community-based child care programs.
Here at the Prince George’s Child Resource Center, we are committed to the idea that family child care providers are crucial to the success of expanding access to preK in Maryland.
We’re losing centers and family child care programs in our county. And too few providers – centers and homes – in Prince George’s County are willing to enroll families that pay with subsidy, in large part because the payment rates have been too low.
We want Maryland leaders to see how this is all connected:
- the subsidy payment rate increase, and the 2019 legislation to speed up the timeline of implementation
- enrollment in EXCELS hindered by low rates but improved when we invest in providers
- expanded family eligibility in subsidy
The demonstration of quality means relationships and interactions which are the backbone of early learning, and investments are needed for a child care program’s capacity to provide those learning opportunities.
The commission report is full of details. The legislation introduced Monday is not. It includes broad statements about mixed delivery, family support, and an investment in preK through school divisions. The broad language means after the bill passes, we can shape the details about how those dollars and those details include child care centers and family child care programs.
There was a hearing in the Senate on March 6. There will be a hearing in the House on March 13.
We need to continue building support for investments in child care providers. The General Assembly has been taking major steps forward for child care, and we also need them to see the connection as they think about preK.
The Kirwan Commission’s work is not over yet, either. The work has been extended and they’ll continue meeting in 2019 after the legislative session is over.