hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


October 18, 2012

Parents, child care groups call for safer transportation

Adult monitors on buses and vans ensure the safety of young children under the age of 5 during transport and minimize the risk of a child being left behind on a vehicle. The cost, $17 million, is not cheap, but parents and providers understand the heartbreaking cost of doing nothing to address this problem.

Early education providers strive each day to meet the educational and developmental needs of over 200,000 of our youngest children in Massachusetts. These child care programs work in partnership with the parents and families of the children they serve. They do so with an essential shared trust that their child’s safety will be prioritized during the child’s time in the program each day.

Prioritization of safety begins each day when thousands of children across Massachusetts, some as young as 6 weeks old, enter vans and buses to access their early education or before/after school program. Community Action, Inc. Family Day Care, Head Start and Early Head Start transport children daily to their chosen child care program. Without transportation services for our families, children could not experience quality programs that support the entire family. Community Action, Inc. provides transportation for about 275 children in the Greater Haverhill area daily.

A child’s death brings the need for change

Prioritization of safety in early education transportation has rightfully come under scrutiny during the past year, since last September’s death of 17-month-old Gabriel Josh-Cazir Pierre, who was killed while being transported to child care in Boston.

Gov. Patrick immediately created an ad-hoc committee to take an in-depth look at the early education transportation system. Their efforts led the State Board of Early Education & Care to pass a series of policy and procedural changes aimed at making the transportation of young children safer. The most significant recommendation was to require an adult monitor on any vehicle carrying children under the age of 5.

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