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Letter

House Speaker DeLeo Letter - Summer 2016

Dear House Speaker DeLeo,

I was interested to read in the recent Boston Globe article that you are looking for ways to address our education crisis by exploring the early childhood realm more fully. I applaud your efforts and encourage you to really look closely at what is happening in early childhood programs across the state. Creating a task force of early childhood educators, child development specialists, researchers, theorists and practitioners would go a long way in informing your decision-making as you go through the planning stages.

As you noted in your statements to the reporter, the first five years are critical in brain development and in developing a capacity for lifelong learning. Children need and deserve quality early childhood programs and parents need help affording the cost of early care and education. What does quality look like, though? You are going to hear a great deal about quality in the coming months, as you begin to tease out what you want and how you are going to get it. I would like to invite you to Acton to see our innovative childcare program--- a model for best practices in infant, toddler, and preschool education.

 The Infant Toddler Children’s Center (ITC) is a not-for-profit, full year care and education program for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and after-school care for kindergarten through 3rd grade. ITC was started in 1981 by an educator, Faith LeBaron, and a nurse, Leslie Hill, in two tiny rented rooms in a local church. We grew over the years, eventually building our own state of the art facility where we took up residency in January of 1997. We’ve never forgotten our roots, however, and continue to hone our care and education practices based on research, hands-on experiences, and keeping informed of the work of theorists and practitioners alike. We have 10 lively classrooms, a space for gross-motor play and development, 4 developmentally appropriate play yards, and our own nature trail. Our commitment to play-based, child-centered practices is well-known in the communities we serve and among early childhood professionals in eastern Massachusetts, who frequently travel great distances to participate in our annual teacher conference and our seasonal workshop series.

ITC embraces early education and care as a serious profession---there isn’t more important work, in our mind. Come meet our teachers, observe our classrooms in action and see what is possible in early education settings when commitment, community support (we have a very strong board and a dedicated parent population), and tried and true pedagogy underscore clear mission and vision. We are so pleased that you are truly ready to make early education a priority and we urge you to investigate what is currently happening in high quality programs like ours. We’re out here, doing the work you’re looking for. Come see for yourself!

Sincerely,

Cindy Heaney