The CNMI State Board of Education wants to reclaim the Childcare Development Program from the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, according to board chair Herman T. Guerrero.
Guerrero said the board and Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan, Ed.D., will arrange an appointment with Gov. Eloy S. Inos to convince him to hand over the program to the school system.
He said PSS is the best equipped agency and has the expertise to successfully run the child care operation.
The program was under PSS for 15 years before it was turned over to DCCA in 2007 under an executive order signed by former governor Benigno R. Fitial. The federal program provides the CNMI a $1.9-million annual grant that pays for the services of child care centers.
Guerrero, who is also chairman of the board's legislative and intergovernmental affairs committee, cited several reasons why the program needs to be returned to PSS.
First, the child care program is not being run well by DCCA, he said. “In its current state, it is not being well run. PSS still has the regulations for the program, which we believe should not have been taken from PSS in the first place. Perhaps under the new administration, they can see that PSS is better suited to handle the CCDF,” said Guerrero.
DCCA Secretary Melvin Faisao has yet to comment on the proposal as of yesterday.
Press secretary Angel Demapan told Saipan Tribune that a decision on this matter will depend on the completion of the review process being undertaken by the new administration on all government agencies and programs.
“Gov. Inos and Lt. Gov. Hofschneider are currently in the process of reviewing the performance of all departments under the Executive Branch, including DCCA. Based on this review, the governor and lieutenant governor will be able to determine what programs and policies are effective and which are not. Thus it is most appropriate to wait until such time that they have had a chance to complete this review as well as have an opportunity to look into PSS’ proposal,” said Demapan.
PSS is launching its “P-3 Initiative” and Guerrero described the child care program as an important component of this effort. He emphasized the need for the child care program to have an “educational component” so that children are better prepared to start school.
“I believe that DCCA does not have the expertise with regards to education and we need to make sure that our kids are prepared and ready to move on-from day care to head start, to kindergarten and onwards,” added Guerrero.
According to board member Lucy Blanco-Maratita, the child care program is critical to the success of the P-3 Initiative. She said research has shown that the “earlier you work to get them ready for school, the more successful they will be.”