To disrupt poverty and create economic mobility for families – including future generations – we need to push for public policy measures that eliminate barriers to success and address the structural racism built into our systems. Our policy agenda is designed to support wide-sweeping changes that will result in more equitable access to quality affordable child care, housing, higher education, and training programs from birth through adult. Our advocacy also seeks to ensure that families in most dire need get the critical support to provide basic necessities to their families.

Our efforts are informed by the families we work with in our programs and the staff who partner with them every day. Before each new legislative session, EMPath surveys our participants and mentors about the issues most important to them. These responses are used to inform our policy priorities and decide what advocacy efforts to support.

Massachusetts operates on a two-year legislative session. The current session runs from January 2, 2021 - December 31, 2022.


Priority Legislation

Our priority bills were selected based on input from families and staff. EMPath plays a leadership role in the coalitions that are moving these bills forward.

Cash Assistance Increase

An act to lift kids out of deep poverty (H.199/S.96)
Sponsors: Rep. Decker, Sen. DiDomenico

Raises the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) grant by 20% with the goal of reaching 50% of the Federal Poverty Level in order to lift families out of deep poverty. Grants have only been raised by 10% in the past 20 years and are currently not tied to inflation. Led by the Lift Our Kids Coalition.

Universal Child Care

An act providing affordable and accessible high quality early education and care to promote child development and well-being and support the economy in the Commonwealth (H.605/S.362)
Sponsors: Rep. Gordon, Rep. Madaro, Sen. Lewis, Sen. Moran

Establishes a system of affordable, high-quality early education and care for all children from birth through age 5 as well as after- and out-of-school time for children ages 5-12, and for children with special needs through age 15. Promoting racial equity requires investing in access to affordable, high-quality child care for all. Even before the pandemic, Black and multiracial parents experienced early education and child care-related job disruptions at nearly twice the rate of white parents. Led by the Common Start Coalition.

Secondary Legislation

Secondary bills are those where EMPath contributes to the efforts of other organizations or advocacy coalitions.

FY22 Budget Priorities

  • At least $160 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) (7004-9024)
    Maintain the 9,000-plus vouchers in use and increase the number of vouchers available to ensure people access affordable housing.

    Final Outcome: $130 million (11% increase from FY21)

  • At least $55 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program (7004-9316)
    Ensure people have support with back rent and utility payments, first and last month’s rent, security deposits, and transportation to avoid evictions and maintain housing. Target eviction prevention dollars towards communities most impacted, particularly BIPOC communities. (We also support the corresponding bill to codify the program and make improvements.)

    Final Outcome: $26.7 million

  • Raise cash grants in the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) program (4403-2000)
    Maintain recent 10% TAFDC grant increase and raise grants by 20% with the goal of lifting families out of deep poverty (grants above 50% of the Federal Poverty Level).

    PARTIALLY ACHIEVED! Grants increased by 9.1%

  • $8.95 million to cover parent co-payments for subsidized child care for half of FY22 (3000-1044)
    Continue to cover parent co-payments for the first half of FY22 as parents continue to experience instability in their work schedules and incomes as a result of the pandemic.


  • $3 million for the Secure Jobs Initiative (4400-1020)
    Help families experiencing homelessness access stable jobs in order to move closer to economic stability by bridging the critical gap between housing and workforce development services.

    ACHIEVED! Secure Jobs funded at $5 million

  • $10 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF) and $1 million for the Learn to Earn Initiative (LTE) (7002-1075 & 7002-1080)
    Fund training opportunities for parents who are low-income for jobs leading to economic stability and continue to address the cliff effect parents experience as their wages rise. The LTE pilots launching in 2021 will focus on serving BIPOC families currently getting public assistance.

    ACHIEVED! WCTF funded at $17 million. LTE funded at $300,000.