It’s state budget season, and a diverse group of 80 stakeholders — Strategies for Children as well as businesses, early education providers, advocates, community organizations, health care providers, and philanthropies — have sent a letter to Governor Charlie Baker asking him to prioritize young children and families as he puts together his FY ‘23 budget proposal.
The letter asks for “the designation of $600 million, as projected by the Department of Early Education and Care, to extend and study the (EEC) Child Care Stabilization Grants through Fiscal Year 2023 to position the program for sustained support and success into the future.”
This funding would provide crucial support as providers recover from the pandemic and move forward.
As the letter explains:
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the childcare sector. We are in the midst of a childcare staffing crisis that is the result of years of chronic underinvestment and low wages. As a result, the workforce that cares for our children and serves as the backbone of our economy has been depleted. The Commonwealth will continue to lose its early education and care workforce to the many other sectors able to offer higher wages and more generous benefits unless we address educator compensation.”
Without a well-paid workforce families and the economy will suffer.
“This is having a direct impact on states’ economies and revenue. A recent five state survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that breakdowns in the childcare system cost states an estimated average of $2.7 billion annually to their economies in lost tax revenue and employer losses from absences and employee turnover. Equally as alarming, the survey found that childcare issues are significantly affecting parents’ job decisions: between 28 and 40 percent of parents in the survey reported that they or someone in their household has left a job, not taken a job, or changed jobs because of problems with childcare in the last 12 months.”
Fortunately, Massachusetts can build on its strengths.
“The innovative Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) funding formula designed by the Department of Early Education and Care through the Child Care Stabilization Grant program remains critical for the early education and care sector. This grant program provides a stable source of direct-to-provider funding that can meet the full range of costs associated with providing high quality early education and care, including higher educator pay.”
The letter calls on Governor Baker to take several key steps:
“We urge you to include the following in your recommendations to the legislature (H.2):
• Designate $600 million to extend the Department of Early Education and Care’s (EEC) Child Care Stabilization Grants through Fiscal Year 2023 and study its underlying Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) formula for potential expansion.
• Enhance transparency and promote flexibility in ECE state budgeting to creatively invest in strengthening the ECE system.”
The letter concludes:
“Now, we stand at a unique moment in time. We have the opportunity to reimagine what is possible; to envision a future with a stronger, modernized early education and care system – one equipped to build a competitive 21st century workforce. The C3 stabilization grant program puts us on the path toward that goal.”
Please reach out to Governor Baker and join us in asking him to invest in young children and families. You can email him here at the bottom of this webpage.
Stabilizing early education and care is the first step toward building a better stronger system, as Massachusetts goes through and emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.