Pledges Universal Access for Children from Birth to Kindergarten and High-Quality System by the End of First Term

NEEDHAM – Friday, March 31, 2017 – In an email to supporters, Democrat Jay Gonzalez today laid out his plan to help working families secure affordable and high-quality preschool and childcare for their children, citing the importance of those investments to the future of the Commonwealth.

“As Governor, I would ensure that every child ages 0-5 has access to high-quality, affordable childcare and preschool by the end of my first term. We will eliminate waiting lists and expand eligibility for state assistance so that childcare and preschool are truly affordable for every family,” Gonzalez said. “We will invest in our teachers, by increasing salaries and improving our workforce development system. Massachusetts will have the highest quality early education and childcare system in the country, and it will be available and affordable to all.”

High-quality early education and childcare is one of the most impactful, cost-effective investments states can make in children and families.  Research shows that it has positive effects on educational achievement, high school graduation rates and lifetime earnings.  It also allows parents the opportunity to re-enter the workforce and support their families.

However, Massachusetts is the most expensive state in the nation when it comes to the cost of childcare – nearly $30,000 per year for a family with two young children. There are 14,000 families on waiting lists for state assistance. Thousands more are unable to get on the lists.

Classroom teachers are the key to high quality early childhood education, yet they are paid, on average, just $25,000 per year. Fully 39 percent of childcare workers in Massachusetts are on public assistance.  This has made it hard to attract and retain high-quality teachers and providers, with about 30% of providers leaving the field every year.

Gonzalez is the former chairman of the Board of Early Education and Care and was a member of House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s Business Advisory Group on Early Education.

The plan he outlined today for quality, affordable early education includes:

Improving Access and Affordability: Gonzalez will expand families’ eligibility for state support and increase the level of state subsidies available to families.  In doing so, Gonzalez will eliminate the wait list. In addition, Gonzalez will expand full-day kindergarten and work collaboratively with school districts to adjust the Chapter 70 funding formula to support this expansion.

Supporting the Workforce and Improving Quality: Gonzalez’s plan includes increasing rates for state-subsidized childcare providers in order to attract and retain a strong, well-trained workforce of teachers and childcare providers, with a tiered rate structure to incentivize program quality improvements. In addition, he will strengthen early education and childcare workforce development programs, from vocational training through higher education and professional development programs, to attract, retain and support high-quality teachers and caregivers. Building off the successful Preschool Expansion Grant model, he will work to improve the quality of all publicly-subsidized preschool programs for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds across the state.

Engaging and Supporting Families: Gonzalez will undertake a variety of initiatives that leverage providers’ expertise and family relationships to engage those families in their children’s learning and better connect them with all the support and assistance programs available to them.

Measuring Outcomes: In making these significant investments, Gonzalez will ensure there are appropriate mechanisms in place to measure the success of these investments to determine what works best in producing better outcomes for children and families.

To read more about the Gonzalez plan for investing in early education and childcare, visit http://jay4ma.com/issues/.

 

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