Support Our Children

As we have written many times on this website, the Commonwealth has been slowly starved for funding over the last decade and now finds it’s funding more than $3 billion short of where it was in 2000.  As a result, many critical programs have taken a beating and are operating with substantially reduced funding.

A closer look at the history of what has happened to early childhood education and childcare is provided by the Mass Budget and Policy Center who concludes:

  • Since 2001, spending on early education and care has fallen by 25% (adjusted for inflation). As was the case for so many essential programs, funding for education and care was constrained by a series of tax cuts between 1998 and 2002 that significantly reduced state revenue.
  • More broadly, when we combine spending for early education and care with cash assistance—the other major source of support for lower-income parents—we find that total spending is $1 billion less today than in 1995 (adjusted for economic growth).

We know how important early childhood education and childcare are for low income families.

For decades both conservative and progressive pundits and policy analysts have touted the benefits of early childhood education – not only for the children themselves but for the economy and society as a whole. Low-income children who participate in high quality care do better in school, graduate more regularly, work more, earn more, and access other public benefits at a lower rate than low-income children who do not.

Check out several easy to read studies here:

Unfortunately, this year’s House budget – even after amendments does nothing to address the shortfalls.  While funding for HeadStart and Universal Pre-K were restored to current funding levels (an actual decline when you factor in rising costs); none of the $130 million, requested by the Governor during the recent revenue fight, for new, innovative and necessary programs was included.

We also know that affordable childcare is a necessity for working families – and that too little of it is available – forcing parents to limit or miss vital work hours or risk the well-being of their children.  Just as we have made work a critical requirement for those who would transition off welfare, we must provide childcare so that they can work.  To do otherwise would be cruel and nonsensical.

Yet, today, over 30,000 income eligible children, aged birth to five, sit on a waitlist for childcare in Massachusetts.  These children are deprived of the very pre-school preparation that is instrumental to lifting them out of poverty.  And their parents struggle to make alternative arrangements so that they can work and put food on the table.  Recently the Massachusetts legislature slashed more than $17 million from this program making the growth of the waitlist all but a certainty.

We must reverse the senseless and illogical resistance to doing what we know we must to break the cycle of poverty and care for the children of Massachusetts.

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