MA Department of Early Care and Education and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Infrastructure to Support Early Childhood Systems

  • Administrative + Governance Models


In 2005, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to createCreation model: A few states have looked to create new entities responsible for managing all early learning and early childhood programs across the state. These offices become executive branch entities or new departments, and they typically hold most of the early childhood programs and responsibilities a cabinet-level department focused on early childhood learning and care—the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). Massachusetts administers five programs serving children: the Child Care and Development Fund; Head Start Collaboration Office; Child and Adult Care Food Program; Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part B, Section 619; and state pre-K. Grouping these interconnected programs under one agency can help states improve efficiency and allows for better alignment of eligibility, monitoring, and quality improvement requirements and activities (Kagan & Gomez, 2015).

Bipartisan Policy Center (2023). Integrated Efficient Early Care and Education Systems
Strategies for Children (2008). A case study for the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care
Kagan, L. and Gomez, R. (Eds.). (2015) Early Childhood Governance: Choices and Consequences. Teachers College Press.

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

Strong infrastructure and systems – including governance structures and data systems – are key aspects of high-quality early education and care. And research suggests there is a need for more accessible, affordable, and high-quality early education within a mixed-delivery system; strengthening infrastructure and systems is one important way states and cities can take action to address these needs and accomplish these goals.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) that connect to the need for more robust infrastructure and systems, including data systems:

  • Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
  • But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.
  • No one early education setting type is inherently of higher quality than another; children develop and learn well in every setting type, and in the study, all setting types showed room to grow in quality.
  • We have learned a great deal from this groundbreaking, large-scale study. Nevertheless, there is still much to learn about what children, families, and educators need, and about what “works” – for whom and under what circumstances – across all the diverse settings where young children learn and grow.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about Massachusetts

Context matters. Visit the Massachusetts profile page to learn more about its demographics, political landscape, early education programs, early education workforce, and funding sources and streams.

Visit the Massachusetts Profile Here
  • The state population is 6,981,974
  • The percentage of children under 6 with all available parents in the workforce is 75%
  • The rural percentage is 8.7%