, Gloucester, MA

Latest Cape Ann News

February 25, 2014

Early-childhood ed seen facing DCF issues

BOSTON — The state’s early education and care system suffers from some of the same technological impediments that prevent social workers at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) from working with “real-time” information, according to a top Patrick administration official.

“They are all legacy systems. Most of them are upwards of a decade old,” Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber said, describing the agency’s computer networks during a briefing Monday on recommendations made by a special commission on Dec. 31, 2013.

The early education department has a lot of data about providers and licensees who serve infants, toddlers and preschoolers but its field staffers often need to return to their office computers to obtain it or enter data on paper forms.

“We need to be really taking advantage of mobile devices,” he said.

Investigations into DCF since the disappearance of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver have raised concerns about agency understaffing and an inability of social workers to access current information. Mentioning the focus on IT solutions at DCF, Weber said technology upgrades are also needed at his agency.

“I’m optimistic that this is getting a lot of focus. It’s a very important recommendation,” he said.

A 2013 Child Care Aware report ranks Massachusetts as second in the nation for child care program standards, but 48th for program oversight, in part due to program-to-licensor ratios far outside of the group’s recommended range.

The Department of Early Education and Care licenses and regulates 11,000 family, group and school-age early education and care programs and nearly 700 residential care programs and adoption/foster care placement agencies.

To reach recommended program-to-licensor ratios, the department would need 70 additional family child care licensors and 31 center-based licensors, at costs of $3.85 million and $1.7 million, respectively. The department currently employs 27 family child care licensors and 28 center-based care licensors, according to the commission.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest Cape Ann News

Pictures of the Week
Your news, your way
Comments Tracker
AP Video Network
13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp