County Council Unanimously Approves Bill to Establish an Early Care and Education Coordinating Entity in Montgomery County

by Patrick Herron

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Bill would establish an independent organization focused on access, equity and inclusion in early care and education programs while helping the sector recover from challenges caused by the pandemic  

ROCKVILLE, Md., Feb. 15, 2022—Today the Council unanimously approved Bill 42-21, which would require the Council to designate a nonprofit corporation to serve as the County’s Early Care and Education Coordinating Entity as well as establish its guidelines and duties. Council President Gabe Albornoz and Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Craig Rice are the lead sponsors of the bill, and all other Councilmembers are cosponsors.

High quality and affordable early child care and education (ECE) is an essential service for the well-being and future of children and their families. It is also critical to employers. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to such care has become increasingly difficult. Accessible, high quality and sustainable ECE programs allow more parents to participate in the workforce, provide a solid educational foundation for our children, help employers attract and retain talented individuals, and ensure a talented future workforce to help spur the local economy. Furthermore, a strong ECE system would support the well-being of some of the County’s most vulnerable populations by helping eliminate structural barriers rooted in systemic racism.

“Establishing an independent public private Early Care and Education Entity in the county in the midst of a COVID-19 recovery requires we look to the future and invest in real and lasting systematic change,” said Council President Albornoz, who is chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “With voting authority and responsibility, this newly implemented law will bring employers, philanthropic organizations, government entities, childcare providers and parents together to ensure equitable accessibility of early care and education to our most precious commodity, our children. This win-win approach will create seeds of change not only within families, but for our economic and social sectors which have been rattled by this global pandemic. I would especially like to thank Montgomery Moving Forward and community stakeholders for their comprehensive and long-term vision in the formation of this important entity.”

“I am thrilled that we have reached this incredible milestone in the County’s efforts to expand access to quality early care and education for our working families,” said Councilmember Navarro, who is chair of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee and a member of the Education and Culture Committee. “This has been a priority of mine since before the pandemic further exacerbated existing gaps in service. I worked on this issue in 2011 as a member of President Obama’s White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Ever since then, I had wanted to create the initiative, get substantial funding and eventually arrive at a public/private entity that can take advantage of philanthropy, engage the private sector and usher innovation.

“When I was Council President in 2019, I spearheaded the County’s Early Care and Education Initiative and made sure that funding remained protected even during this period of fiscal uncertainty. The facts are clear, when children have access to quality early care and education, then they are more likely to enjoy academic success which in turn translates to career success later in life. Investing in the education of our children now will lead to a future where more families are able to lift themselves up the socio-economic ladder and stimulate our local and regional economy. Quality early care and education is an economic imperative, it is also the right and equitable thing to do.”

“The pandemic has highlighted that local government alone cannot address our early care and education challenges and inequities our residents face. Instead, it must be a partnership that convenes public and private stakeholders to ensure that innovative practices will be guided by all voices,” said Councilmember Rice, who is chair of the Education and Culture Committee and a member of the Health and Human Services Committee. “I greatly appreciate the research and convenings that Montgomery Moving Forward has conducted to assist in recommending a path for our county. As the Chair of the Human Services and Education Committee for the National Association of Counties, I know that state officials are looking at our ECE coordinating entity as a model for their future efforts.

“I am proud that my colleagues came together to sponsor legislation that will support not just our current workforce, our employers, and their families but will create a system that will focus on all aspects of early care and education for our children. As our future workforce, our children are the most valuable resource to ensure our economy is strong for years to come. It is on us to ensure we provide the educational foundation they will need to thrive.”

The Early Care and Education Coordinating Entity created through this legislation will serve as a public-private convenor to help build a more unified system and convene all stakeholders, including health providers, social service agencies and other support organizations, employers, and childcare providers. Its aim is to help facilitate a sustainable economic recovery for the County and future growth by helping to identify needs and coordinate resources across the entire ECE system.

The chosen entity will be a Maryland nonprofit, non-stock corporation exempt from federal income tax and headquartered in the County. Its Board would have nine ex-officio government officials and 12 private sector members appointed by the Executive and confirmed by the Council.

The Council staff report on the bill can be viewed here.

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