Timilty Votes to Pass Transformational Bill to Expand Access to
High-Quality, Affordable Early Education and Child Care
Amendment by Timilty also adopted calling for mentorship at vocational schools with childcare curriculum
(BOSTON–07/08/2022) Yesterday, State Senator Walter F. Timilty voted to transform and expand access to high-quality, affordable early education and childcare. Included in the final legislation is an amendment Timilty filed which will foster student mentorship in the childcare work force.
“This bill addresses access, affordability, and workforce challenges in Massachusetts’ early education and care sector and, importantly, makes permanent the direct-to-provider grants. Furthermore, my amendment expands upon the bill by requiring that the Department of Early Education and Care identify opportunities for collaboration and mentorship between grant recipients and our outstanding vocational schools whose curriculum include early education and care,” said Timilty.
“If the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is to grow the workforce pipeline in early childhood education, reduce the turnover & transition costs, and boost productivity, we must foster this mentorship between vocational school students and established professionals in this industry,” Timilty stated. “Therefore, we must ensure that our up-and-coming talent pool has the tools, education, and mentorship necessary now and in the future.”
“My amendment will help to expand and clarify the Massachusetts Department of Education and Care’s role in promoting and developing a career ladder for the early childhood sector here in the Bay State,” he added.
Moreover, this bipartisan legislation will transform early education and childcare in the Commonwealth by ensuring more accessibility and affordability for families. This bill will, also, improve compensation and professional development opportunities for the early education workforce The bill draws from the recommendations made by the Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission, which was created by the legislature in 2020 and issued its final report in March 2022.
The Senate bill would improve access to high-quality and affordable care for Massachusetts families in several ways. The bill would:
- Increase subsidy eligibility over time from the current level of 50% of state median income ($65,626 annual household income for a family of four) to 125% of state median income ($164,065 annual household income for a family of four)
- Make it easier for subsidized providers to offer scholarships or discounted tuition for their private pay families
- Require the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) to evaluate and eliminate barriers to subsidy access for families on an annual basis
- Require parent fees for subsidized families to be affordable and updated at least every five years
- Require EEC to assess the extent of the current supply of licensed childcare availability across the state and the unmet needs of families
This Senate legislation will help stabilize providers, improve program quality, and expand capacity in several ways. The bill:
- Makes permanent the operational grants to providers that were first distributed during the pandemic and requires that a provider must be willing to enroll subsidized children in order to qualify for a grant
- Requires EEC to use an actual cost-of-quality-care methodology for setting subsidy reimbursement rates and calculating operational grants
- Requires EEC to reimburse subsidized providers based on quarterly enrollment rather than daily attendance of children
- Takes steps to strengthen the recruitment and pipeline of early educators
To improve compensation, benefits, and professional development opportunities for the early educator workforce, this legislation:
- Requires EEC to develop a career ladder that links educational attainment and work experience to compensation and benefits and recommends that compensation levels be commensurate with public school teachers who are similarly credentialed
- Establishes early educator scholarship and loan forgiveness programs to provide greater access to higher education and professional development opportunities
- Enables subsidized providers to offer free or discounted seats for the children of their own staff
Other provisions would further improve and strengthen early education and childcare in Massachusetts. The bill:
- Creates 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 childcare needs
- Requires EEC to report to the legislature on ways to expand successful local partnerships, such as the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (CPPI)
- Requires EEC and the Children’s Investment Fund to report to the legislature on ways to improve and expand the impact of the Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund for making improvements to early education facilities
- Requires EEC to create a plan to pilot and scale shared service models that can improve the efficient delivery of high-quality care
- Creates a data advisory commission to work with EEC on expanded data collection and reporting, and the improved use of data to inform the cost and quality of care
Having passed the State Senate, An Act to expand access to high-quality, affordable early education and care now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.