(The Center Square) – Expanding and making more affordable early childhood education and child care are the focus of a bill heading to the House of Representatives, Senate leadership said.
Senate Bill 2973, which was ratified Thursday in a 40-0 vote, would support children and families, early childhood education providers, and the work force in the early childhood education sector.
“Just as the Senate led on transforming the Commonwealth’s K-12 education system through the Student Opportunity Act, [Thursday’s] bill would similarly transform the early education system,” Senate President Karen E. Spilka, D-Ashland, said in the release. “Unfortunately, high-quality early education remains out of reach for most Massachusetts families, and our providers struggle to keep their doors open.”
The bill, Spilka said, is designed to make the state stronger by creating more affordable early childhood education while at the same time investing in those educators to ensure sustainability.
The bipartisan legislation, according to the release, will allow for early childhood education and child care more accessible and more affordable. The bill used recommendations from the Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission, which was established in 2020.
“With this bill, we are creating a framework to support the early education and care sector; making clear that the Senate understands the vital importance of early childhood to our economic recovery and to the health and wellbeing of Massachusetts families,” Sen. Michael J. Rodrigues, D-Westport, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said in the release.
Under the bill, according to the release, the subsidy for eligibility over time will be increased to 125% of the state’s median income, which is $164,065 for a family of four. The funding would be increase from its current rate of 50%.
It would also, according to the release, allow scholarships and discounted tuition from subsidized providers easier and would require the Department of Early Education and Care to evaluate and potentially eliminate barriers to access.
The bill would also create a commission that would study and recommend to the state’s governing body initiatives for employers that could be provided to support workers.