2007 Regular Session
To: Education; Appropriations
By: Representative Dickson, Clark, Evans, Flaggs, Huddleston, Myers, Smith (27th), Thomas
AN ACT TO CREATE THE MISSISSIPPI FOUNDATION FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT, WHICH SHALL BE A PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP THAT SERVES TO IDENTIFY METHODS OF INCREASING STUDENT PREPAREDNESS FOR SCHOOL AT THE KINDERGARTEN LEVEL; TO PROVIDE FOR THE MAKEUP OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES FOR THE PROGRAM; TO REQUIRE THE BOARD TO MATCH FUNDS APPROPRIATED BY THE STATE WITH PRIVATE FUNDS FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING GRANTS FOR CERTAIN PROGRAMS; TO REQUIRE THE LEGISLATURE TO ANNUALLY APPROPRIATE FUNDS FOR THE SUPPORT OF THE MISSISSIPPI FOUNDATION FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT; TO REQUIRE THE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC EDUCATION TO MAKE GRANTS TO THE MISSISSIPPI FOUNDATION FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT FOR PURPOSES OF IMPLEMENTING AN EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT GRANT PROGRAM; TO REQUIRE THE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC EDUCATION TO MAKE GRANTS TO A PRIVATE NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION TO AID THE MISSISSIPPI FOUNDATION FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT; TO REQUIRE THE MISSISSIPPI FOUNDATION FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT TO ADOPT A SYSTEM OF EVALUATION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSED.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) There is created the Mississippi Foundation for Early Childhood Development.
(2) The purpose of the Mississippi Foundation for Early Childhood Development, a public-private partnership, is to identify cost-effective ways to deliver quality early care and education experiences and parent education for families whose children are at risk of being unprepared for school. The partnership shall develop infrastructure supports and accountability measures to increase the quality of early care and education settings and must build community capacity for school readiness. The partnership will evaluate the resulting benefits and long-term savings to the Mississippi economy and the effectiveness of strategies for increasing children's readiness for school upon entering kindergarten.
(3) The Mississippi Foundation for Early Childhood Development shall seek tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The foundation shall be governed by a board comprised of public and private citizens, with no less than fifty-one percent (51%) of the members representing the private sector. The Governor shall appoint the members from the public sector, which must include representatives of government, academia and civil society.
(4) A review and planning advisory committee shall provide counsel and advice to the executive director and board for development of policies and procedures for the Mississippi Foundation for Early Childhood Development. The committee also must review cost-effective strategies for strengthening Mississippi's early care and education capabilities. The committee must include parents, representatives of the early care and education field, K-12 education representatives and business leaders. The membership of the committee must reflect the ethnic and geographic diversity of the State of Mississippi.
(5) The Mississippi Foundation for Early Childhood Development shall match dollars appropriated from the state with nonpublic dollars raised by the board. The board shall award grants for the following:
(a) Pilot projects that demonstrate successful approaches to the delivery of early childhood services and parent education to low-income families;
(b) Scholarships to low-income families to access early childhood parent education and high-quality early learning programs for their children; and
(c) The development of strategies to improve the quality of early care and education through early learning standards and assessment, a quality rating system, program improvement grants and professional development grants.
SECTION 2. The Legislature shall appropriate annually to the State Department of Education those state funds that may be necessary to support the Mississippi Foundation for Early Childhood Development in carrying out its functions under this act.
SECTION 3. (1) Subject to the availability of funding specifically appropriated for such purposes, the State Superintendent of Public Education shall make a grant to the Mississippi Foundation for Early Childhood Development to implement an early childhood development grant program for low-income and other challenged families. The goals of the grant program shall be to increase the effectiveness and expand the capacity of public and nonpublic early childhood development programs, which may include child care programs, and to lead to improved early childhood parent education and children's kindergarten readiness. The grant program may not supplant existing early childhood development programs or child care funds.
The grant program must include the following components:
(a) Grant awards to existing early childhood development program providers that provide parent education programs and to qualified providers proposing to implement pilot programs for this same purpose;
(b) Grant awards to enable low-income families to participate in these programs;
(c) Grant awards to improve overall programmatic quality; and
(d) An evaluation of the programmatic and financial efficacy of all these programs, which may be performed using measures of services, staffing and management systems which: provide consistent information about system performance; show trends; confirm successes; and identify potential problems in early childhood development programs.
(2) In order to implement the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, subject to the availability of funding appropriated for such purposes, the State Superintendent of Public Education shall make a grant to a private nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. The private nonprofit organization must be governed by a board of directors composed of members from the public and nonpublic sectors. The nonpublic sector members must compose a simple majority of the board members. The public sector members shall be state and local government officials, kindergarten through Grade 12 or postsecondary educators, and early childhood providers appointed by the Governor. Membership on the board of directors by a state agency official constitutes work duties for the official and does not create a conflict of interest under Section 25-4-105. The board of directors shall appoint an executive director and shall seek advice from geographically and ethnically diverse parents of young children and representatives of early childhood development providers, kindergarten through Grade 12 and postsecondary educators, public libraries and the business sector. The board of directors is subject to the Open Meetings Law (Chapter 41, Title 25, Mississippi Code of 1972). All other terms and conditions under which board members serve and operate must be described in the articles and bylaws of the organization.
(3) In additional to the duties prescribed under subsection (1) of this section, the Mississippi Foundation for Early Childhood Development shall adopt a quality improvement and rating system for the purpose of evaluating a program's effectiveness. The quality improvement and rating system must serve in performing the following functions:
(a) Providing consumer information to parents on child care and early education program quality and ratings;
(b) Setting indicators to identify quality in care and early education settings, including licensed family child care centers, tribal providers and programs, Head Start and school-age programs, and identifying quality programs through ratings and ongoing monitoring of programs;
(c) Providing funds for provider improvement grants and quality achievement grants;
(d) Requiring participating providers to incorporate the state's early learning standards in their curriculum activities and developing appropriate child assessments aligned with the kindergarten readiness assessment;
(e) Providing accountability for the quality improvement and rating system's effectiveness in improving child outcomes and kindergarten readiness; and
(f) Aligning current and new state investments to improve the quality of child care with the quality improvement and rating system framework, by providing accountability and informed parent choice. The Mississippi Foundation for Early Childhood Development shall report back to the Legislature before January 15, 2009, on the progress being made under this paragraph.
(4) This section shall be repealed on July 1, 2012.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.