Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Before you fire up the grill for your July 4th barbecue, come to the State House to advocate for young children and families.

Each legislative session, every bill that is filed gets a public hearing.

For early education and care bills, that hearing is 10 a.m. tomorrow, July 2, 2019, at the State House in room B-2.

Can’t come to the hearing in person? Click this link to send an email to your legislators.

Here at Strategies for Children, our top legislative priority is a preschool expansion bill:

An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education (H.551S.265), was filed in 2019, 2017, and 2015. This bill would expand preschool by investing in high-needs communities that already have state-approved expansion plans. We’ve posted the bill’s fact sheet here.

Currently 19 communities have these plans: Athol, Boston, Brockton, Cape Cod (a four-town regional plan covering Dennis, Yarmouth, Chatham and Harwich), Fall River, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lee, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, North Adams, Northampton, Pittsfield, Salem, Somerville, Springfield, and Worcester.

This list includes five cities that received federal Preschool Expansion Grant funds to serve 850 four-year-olds annually from 2015 to 2019. The list also includes six communities that received funding from the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (state budget line item 3000-6025) beginning in 2019. Until now, state investment in preschool has been modest, and not kept pace with local demand.

Another bill that will be discussed during the State House hearing focuses on affordable child care. An Act Relative to Affordable and Accessible High Quality Early Education and Care (H.470, S.288) calls on Massachusetts to:

“… take steps to assure: (1) that all children in Massachusetts have access to affordable, high quality early education and child care, including care during non-standard work hours; and (2) appropriate professional development and compensation for early education and care providers.”

This bill is supported by the Coalition for Social Justice, an advocacy group that includes Strategies for Children.

Another item on the hearing’s agenda will be a “rates” bill — An Act Relative to Rates of Payment for Early Childhood Education and Care Programs (H.480) — which would improve salaries for early educators in programs accepting child care subsidies for income-eligible families.

So please come to the hearing and testify in support of high-quality early education for all children in Massachusetts.

Or, once again, if you can’t come, please send an email to your legislators.