hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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October 18, 2012

Parents, child care groups call for safer transportation

(Continued)

Early Education providers and parents of young children support this recommendation. Over 10,000 parents across the state have written the governor, asking him to support these recommendations.

Early education transportation equates access to care

For children of working families, transportation represents the difference between receiving early education services and enhancing their ability to enter school better ready to succeed.

For working parents, the availability of transportation to high quality child care programs is an essential element to be able to work.

For the 5,000 children in the custody of the state Department of Children & Families due to abuse or neglect, transportation represents accessing what may be their most stable aspect of their lives.

For each of these children, the state and providers of care have a responsibility to ensure their safety while they are being transported.

Poorly funded transportation system a concern

The current child care transportation system is poorly-funded, contributing to existing problems.

At a hearing of the governor’s ad-hoc committee, the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services presented testimony that human service transportation rates, unlike early education transportation rates, reflect true cost. For early ntervention, that true cost is an average of $54 per day round trip, six times more than the Department of Early Education & Care rate of $9 per day round trip. Adult day care transportation rates range from $35 to $40 per day round trip (again, true cost based), four times the DEEC rate. This chronic low funding has impacted quality in the early education transportation system.

Need for timely action by governor, legislature

The governor and the Department of Early Education & Care should be applauded for recognizing the need to strengthen early education transportation.

However, all the strengthening of policies and procedures will go for naught if the governor and Legislature do not step in and address safety in the poorly funded child care transportation system. Providers of care and parents across Massachusetts look to the governor and Legislature for leadership and ask them to stand with us in support of child safety by seeking $17 million in supplemental budget funding for enhanced early education transportation.

Community Action, Inc. is an organization in Haverhill that provides services such as Head Start early childhood education to low-income families.

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