TBF Policy Update: Addressing early childhood needs critical for families and the economy

November 24, 2021

On November 23, Boston Foundation Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Keith Mahoney submitted testimony to the Legislature's Joint Committee on Education in favor of "Common Start" legislation that would sharply expand access to early education and care and reduce out-of-pocket costs for caregivers to no more than 7 percent of family income. In December, the Boston Foundation will release "When the Bough Breaks," research into the critical issues facing the early education sector and its impact on families, caregivers and workers in early education.

Today is a day that many have waited for. This is a chance for the early education sector to be heard. On behalf of the Boston Foundation, I am proud to echo the voices of many that have come before me and that will surely come after and say – the early education and care system is broken.

Childcare is too expensive for parents. Childcare workers are not being paid enough. Women, especially women of color, are left hurt because of this broken system. Worst of all, our children are suffering from inadequate and unqualified instruction.

The Boston Foundation will be releasing a report next month called When the Bough Breaks. This report showcases how the data and research highlighting the importance of investing in early childhood, and the positive return on those investments, have been apparent to those paying attention yet have failed to make a significant policy impact in the Commonwealth. Our report shares the increasingly alarming stories of parents, educators, and professionals in the early education and care workforce.

The pandemic has shed a harsh light on the realities of the childcare system and pushed its broken parts over the limit. In order to provide children with an equal start in life, strengthen our economy in a way that also reduces racial, gender, and income inequality in our state, and meet the needs of working parents and the 21st century workforce; Massachusetts families need affordable, accessible, high-quality early education and childcare. We urge you to pass H.605 and S.362 An Act Providing Affordable and Accessible High Quality Early Education and Care to Promote Child Development and Well-Being and Support the Economy in the Commonwealth.

This issue affects us all. Surveys by the business coalition show 91% of Massachusetts employers have significant concerns about childcare and school issues affecting their employee’s ability to show up to work and to be productive once they get there. Now, local employers are increasingly facing worker shortages, some of which can be attributed to the lack of childcare availability.

This is a crucial moment of awakening and crisis, when doing the right thing for our children and families is also an economic imperative.

This is an education issue, it is also a workforce issue, and it is an equity issue. Please do your part to invest in our childcare system and pass this piece of legislation.

Among the tools the Boston Foundation uses to support the work of our nonprofit partners and achieve our mission of “building and sustaining a vital, prosperous city and region, where justice and opportunity are extended to everyone” is advocacy for public policy. As part of that advocacy work, Boston Foundation representatives occasionally testify on Beacon Hill and elsewhere in support of local initiatives. Our occasional “TBF Policy Update” posts share our work in public affairs, with updates, letters and relevant testimony.