ACROSS MASSACHUSETTS – Amid a multifaceted child care crisis that is forcing parents out of the workforce, shuttering child care centers, and hurting businesses across the state, momentum is building for state action that would address the early education and child care needs of families and businesses while ensuring that providers and early educators are fairly compensated for their work.
During a Tuesday hearing of the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Education, more than a dozen parents, early educators, early education and child care providers, business leaders, and policy experts testified in support of the Common Start legislation, which would establish a comprehensive system of affordable, high-quality early education and child care for Massachusetts families, over a 5-year timeline. The legislation, which is co-sponsored by 98 State Representatives and 30 State Senators, would dramatically increase the affordability and quality of early education and child care for all Massachusetts families while compensating providers for the true cost of providing quality care, including higher educator pay.
“Child care is one of the most pressing needs for families, especially for those who have the very lowest incomes,” said Chelsea Sedani, Director of Advocacy at EMPath, a Boston-based nonprofit which provides emergency shelter and transitional housing as well as economic mobility coaching to approximately 1,400 people annually. “Families we work with spend too much of their income on child care, which means they struggle to pay for other necessities and are at risk of losing their jobs or forfeiting education opportunities. By ensuring that families wouldn’t pay more than seven percent of their income for child care, and making it free for the lowest-income families, the Common Start bill would give all parents a better chance at achieving economic advancement.”