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How Massachusetts' FY25 Budget Could Impact Early Education and Care in Worcester

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Each fiscal year (FY), Massachusetts lawmakers prepare a budget that dictates how they'll allocate resources for operating state and municipal governments, including funds for early education and care programs. The FY25 budget process involves Governor Maura Healey, the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and the Massachusetts Senate. Each party submits their own budget recommendations, which the parties debate. Once the parties agree on what to include in the budget, Gov. Healey will sign it. Finally, the agreement is published as the "General Appropriations Act" and remains active for the new fiscal year.

The FY25 budget takes effect July 1, 2024 thru June 30, 2025. As of today, the House and Senate have each prepared their own version of the budget. They continue to work together to bridge the gaps between their respective budget proposals.

At this point, lawmakers are debating how much money to allocate to early education and care programs and initiatives across the Commonwealth. They must decide if they want to offer grants and other funding to early education and care providers — and if so, how much. Along with this, lawmakers must determine how much money the state will offer families that want their children to enjoy high quality early education and care and what programs and activities they may be able to access.

Edward Street and our community partners prioritize high quality early education and care in Worcester and its surrounding communities. We advocate for funding for children, families, and early education and care providers. The state budget is crucial to promoting early childhood success, since it impacts the quality of early education and care in Central Massachusetts.

Read on to learn about state budget changes that could impact children, families, and early education and care providers in Massachusetts in FY25 and beyond and how you can help us advocate for early education and care funding.

Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) Grants Could Become Permanent

Court House

Launched during the pandemic, C3 grants provide bedrock funding to help early education and care providers keep their businesses afloat, says Kim Davenport, Vice President of Initiatives & Aligned Programs at Edward Street. Earlier this year, C3 grant funding was cut to ensure payments to Massachusetts early education and care providers will remain within the state's budget allocation for FY24. As a result, more than half of the 8,323 such providers have been receiving less money than they originally expected from the state in May and June.

The good news: the legislature is making moves to make this funding permanent. Both the House and Senate budget proposals include $475 million in funding for C3 grants. This is the same amount proposed by Gov. Healey for the FY24 budget. Meanwhile, House Democrats have proposed a bill that would make C3 grant funding permanent, according to NBC Boston. In the Outside Sections of its budget, the Senate proposed making C3 grants permanent.

What's next? The House and Senate differ in how funding would be raised to support the grants. Under the House's proposal, funding would come from new revenue associated with letting the state Lottery make sales online. Alternatively, the Senate wants the state to fund these grants.

Stable Funding Helps Families Too

Early education and care providers can use C3 grant funding to cover their staff salaries, mortgage and rent expenses, and day-to-day operational and workforce costs. C3 grants were originally created to give these providers stability in the midst of economic hardships during the pandemic. Based on the House and Senate's budget proposals, both recognize the grants' importance, to the point where they want to make the funding permanent.

For families, that stabilization means providers don't have to pass on the full cost of care to them. It also means providers can confidently hire open positions to create more slots for children.

Center-Based and Family Childcare Providers Could Get a Financial Boost

Unfortunately, many center-based and family childcare providers are underpaid and undervalued. At the same time, many families cannot access affordable, high quality early education and care. Now, the House and Senate are exploring new ways to address these problems.

The proposed House and Senate budgets feature a center-based and family childcare provider rate increase of $65 million spread across FY24 and FY25. With the funding, $45 million will be committed to annualize rate increases that were already put into place in FY24. The remaining $20 million will be dedicated to additional rate increases.

Funding Addresses Childcare Staffing and Affordability Issues

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With the proposed rate increase, center-based and family childcare providers would have more money available for staff salaries, benefits, and professional development. This would give providers more resources to recruit and retain top talent. It would also help them improve their services and support.

Of course, families benefit when providers have staff that's secure and well compensated. The rate increase helps prevent family childcare costs from going up. It also helps empower providers to improve the learning experience for the children and families they serve.

Show Your Support for the FY25 Budget's Early Education and Care Initiatives

Join us in advocating for children, families, and early education and care providers and helping them get critical funding they need to meet the needs of every child in the Commonwealth. Click here to send a quick email to your state representative and senator asking them to prioritize the Common Start priorities with their colleagues in the Conference Committee who are negotiating the FY25 budget.

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For more information about Massachusetts' FY25 budget, visit the Strategies for Children (SFC) state budget webpage. You can also sign up for The 9:30 Call, which SFC hosts Monday through Thursday at 9:30 a.m. via Zoom to discuss the budget and other early education and care provider topics.

In addition to these things, read our blog and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for early education and care provider news and updates.

Edward Street proudly supports high quality early learning and care. Donate today so children, families, and businesses can thrive, and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.