Mass. Senate OKs American Heart Association-backed bill to revamp early childhood education and care

The Massachusetts Senate passed the Early Childhood Education bill unanimously on Thursday night, which will establish a framework for delivering increased access to affordable, high-quality early education and childcare to Massachusetts families.

The bill heads now to the House.

The vote was celebrated by the American Heart Association, which sent an email to its volunteer advocates on Friday thanking them for contacting their state senators and asking them to support the legislation.

“Ensuring all children have access to high-quality early education and care is how we prevent achievement gaps from widening and health disparities from worsening,” said the association.

GBH News reported on the bill’s details:

The bill contains several measures aimed at strengthening the existing system. For example, it would expand the number of families eligible for subsidized care by gradually increasing the ceiling for aid from about $66,000 annually for a family of four to roughly $164,000.

It also includes provisions aimed at giving childcare centers more financial stability and boosting compensation for the state’s childcare workers, who earned an average annual salary of about $30,000 before the pandemic. One in six childcare providers in the state live in poverty.

The State House News Service has reported that top House Democrats have voiced skepticism about a “challenging timeline” to consider the major reforms and called for business leaders to offer suggestions for action in the 2023-2024 legislative session.

The American Heart Association is urging the House to pass this legislation. In doing so, lawmakers can make childcare more affordable and accessible for families, stabilize the system’s funding for providers, and increase pay for educators to address the ongoing workforce crisis.