“We consider them like family,” Sarah, a mom of two from Ayer, said of her children’s early learning and care program, and the educators who work there. “We want them to be able to thrive, to be safe, and to take care of their own kids, too. We trust them so much with our children and we just want the best for them.”
If you’re a working parent or caregiver, you understand.
Early education and care providers are the backbone of family life. They make it possible for families to work, knowing young children are safe, well-cared for, and on track for success in elementary school and beyond. Yet, the cost is out of reach for many families.
What’s wrong with the current system? A lot, unfortunately
In contrast to the state’s fully funded k-12 education system, early childhood is more like a patchwork of severely limited funding. It places a heavy financial burden on parents and caregivers—an average of $21,000 per year, per child—while early educators earn an average hourly wage of just $16.32. Early learning and care programs, meanwhile, struggle to stay in business.
The ramifications of poor funding shouldn’t surprise anyone: parents and caregivers are forced to stay at home to care for young children; businesses can’t find workers; and young children get left behind.
Just ask Mikeya of Boston.
Years ago, in spite of working full time, she was unable to afford early learning and care for her first child, and her hourly wage of just $18 an hour made her ineligible for financial assistance. Today, she remains caught between paying for basic needs like rent and food, and the high cost of childcare for her second child.
Have you had difficulty accessing or affording high-quality early education and care? Share your story today, prior to a statewide hearing scheduled for November 23rd.
High-quality early learning and care benefits us all
Heather, also a Massachusetts mom, reminds us that early education and care providers are an important resource for young children of all abilities, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds.
“When we see successful young people graduating from high school, joining the workforce, going to college, we need to remember these children got their foundation, their start, in early childhood centers, family childcare, pre-k, early intervention and intensive services,” she said.
It’s no wonder, then, that the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce are such enthusiastic supporters of high-quality learning and care. In addition to helping families work today, it encourages a healthy, capable, talented workforce long-term.
Support passage of the Common Start bill! Tell Massachusetts legislators why a vote for young children is a vote for families and communities.