Millions in Relief for Early Education Yet to be Spent in Massachusetts – What’s the Path Forward?

For Immediate Release: March 1, 2022

BOSTON, MA – High-quality early childhood education (ECE) programs promote healthy child development, increase learning outcomes, and keep our economy moving by offering parents the ability to go back to work. Across Massachusetts, early education providers, family care homes, and Pre-K centers continue to persevere through COVID challenges, but chronic disinvestment has made it difficult for providers to keep their doors open. ARPA & Federal Early Education Funds in Massachusetts, a new report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), outlines how strategic investments have helped the recovery of kids in the Commonwealth and supported under-resourced early education providers.

Longstanding underinvestment in early education has caused a lack of affordable care options, chronically low salaries for educators, and high teacher turnover within the sector. The pandemic further exacerbated these issues. When centers began reopening, early educators were faced with new safety regulations, disruptions in attendance, and continuous staffing shortages. Due to these challenges, operating costs for child care centers increased by around 20%. Recent federal relief funding has shown promising improvements, but sustained funding is necessary to improve quality and affordability for families and address poor working conditions for teachers.

“As a working dad, I know that we can’t possibly expect parents and caregivers to work when they are struggling to find reliable care and the cost is rivaling college tuition and rent,” says Colin Jones, Senior Policy Analyst at MassBudget. “By not prioritizing ECE funding we are failing to honor the incredible efforts of our early educators and leaving entire communities behind today and in the long run. Massachusetts can’t fully recover without quality and accessible care for working families.”
Federal relief laws have provided $730 million for Massachusetts early education addressing a wide range of issues. Our state through the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has already seen promising results from programs created using these one-time funds, but long-term funding solutions will be needed to continue this success. With significant funds yet to be allocated, early education advocates, policymakers, teachers, and families have the opportunity to make their concerns and priorities heard.

“Massachusetts has the chance to revolutionize our state’s early education system, but without sustainable funding from policymakers, programs will expire, pushing providers back to square one,” says Jones. “We need them to act swiftly and thoroughly.”

To support this effort, members of the public can follow the work of organizations such as the Common Start CoalitionNeighborhood Villages, and Strategies for Children.
Key staff related to this initiative are available for additional questions or comments upon request.
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Contact:
Reginauld Williams, Communications Director
617-426-1228 x102, rwilliams@massbudget.org

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