By Bob Katzen

The Senate 40-0, approved and sent to the House a bill designed to expand access to high-quality, affordable early education and care.

Provisions include increasing over time from the current $65,626 to $164,065 the maximum income allowed to qualify for subsidy eligibility for a family of four; requiring the Department of Early Education and Care to evaluate and eliminate barriers to subsidy access for families on an annual basis; strengthening the recruitment of early educators; establishing early educator scholarship and loan forgiveness programs to provide greater access to higher education and professional development opportunities; allowing subsidized providers to offer free or discounted seats for the children of their own staff; and creating a commission to study and recommend to the Legislature ways that employers could provide more support to their workers to help meet their early education and child care needs.

“There are numerous benefits from expanding access to high-quality, affordable early education and childcare,” said Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), Senate Chair of the Committee on Education. “It enhances the cognitive and social emotional development of young children; it enables parents to work and improves families’ economic well-being; and it helps employers that are struggling with a workforce shortage. This legislation makes major strides in improving affordability and accessibility of care for families, stabilizing early education providers which will improve program quality and expand capacity and supporting the early educator workforce, many of whom are women of color.”

“This issue has been a top priority of mine for many years, and I am thrilled to pass this transformative piece of legislation alongside my Senate colleagues,” said Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), a member of the Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission. “As a father of two children, I know that affordable and quality early education and care is indispensable for families and their economic security. This bill will increase childcare access and help thousands of families obtain care at lower costs. Just as importantly, these investments will provide support to childcare providers and ensure people working in this field can earn a living wage, acquire higher education and support their own families.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

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