In The People's Blog

During the second week of March, the Massachusetts Senate passed the Early ED Act. 

This bill proposes making childcare more affordable and better wages for those who care for our youngest.

I filed a successful rural-focused amendment that did two things:

  • It sharpened data reporting to incorporate rural community needs, capabilities, and challenges. 
  • Where the bill establishes an employer matching grant pilot, the amendment instructs the Department of Early Education and Care to prioritize rural areas as they consider grant applicants, to help overcome understood challenges around what it will take to make this program viable for smaller businesses. 

I spoke during debate in support of this amendment and you can see my remarks here

Thanks to Senators Jake Oliveira, John Velis, and Julian Cyr for co-sponsoring this amendment and their steadfast rural support, which helped power this amendment over the finish line.

Cheers for Senator Jason Lewis, Senate President Karen Spilka, and Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues for their leadership in strengthening our system of early education and care.

Thank you to Barbara Black, Laura Frogameni, and Clare Higgins for their counsel on the bill and in shaping the amendment.

Read on to learn more about this important legislation, which now makes its way to the House for consideration. 


The EARLY ED ActAn Act ensuring affordability, readiness and learning for our youth and driving economic development — takes transformative steps to improve the affordability and sustainability of childcare programs by making the state’s Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) operational grant program permanent, expanding eligibility for the state’s subsidy program and capping subsidy recipients’ childcare costs at 7 percent of family income, and boosting compensation for educators by creating a career ladder and providing scholarships and loan forgiveness.

By extending access to high-quality education and care to families who currently lack access because of cost or availability, the bill seeks to set children up for future success and drive the Massachusetts economy forward.

The bill would make the state’s C3 grants permanent, which provides monthly payments directly to early education and care providers. The grants, which provide monthly payments to more than 92 per cent of early education and care programs across the Commonwealth, have become a national model thanks to their success at keeping programs’ doors open during the pandemic, reducing tuition costs for families, increasing compensation for early educators, and expanding the number of childcare slots available.

The legislation improves affordability by expanding eligibility for childcare subsidies to families making up to 85 per cent of the state median income (SMI), which is $124,000 for a family of four. It eliminates cost-sharing fees for families receiving subsidies who are below the federal poverty line, and caps cost-sharing fees for all other families receiving subsidies at seven percent of their income, putting millions of dollars back into families’ pockets. Finally, the bill paves the way for expanding the subsidy program to families making up to 125 percent SMI, or $182,000 for a family of four, when future funds become available.

The legislation provides much-needed support for educators by directing the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) to establish a career ladder with recommended salaries. This career ladder will help increase salaries in this historically underpaid field. The bill would also make scholarship and loan forgiveness programs for early educators permanent, as well as direct the state to explore more innovative ways to develop this crucial workforce.

Notably, the bill would also create an innovative public-private matching grant pilot program, which would incentivize employers to invest in new early education and care slots, with priority given to projects serving families with lower income and those who are located in childcare deserts. In addition, the bill tasks the Administration with completing a study to further analyze ways to incentivize or require employers to partner with the state to expand access to high-quality and affordable early education and care.

The bill also includes provisions that would:

  • Ensure that early education and care programs serving children with subsidies are reimbursed based on enrollment, rather than attendance, to provide financial stability to programs.
  • Require the cost-sharing fee scale for families participating in the childcare subsidy program to be updated every five years to ensure affordability for families.
  • Establish a pilot program to expand access to shared-service hubs, which would support smaller early education and care programs.
  • Increase the maximum number of children that can be served by fully-staffed large family childcare programs, aligning with states such as New York, California, Illinois, and Maryland.
  • Bar zoning ordinances from prohibiting family childcare programs in certain areas, preventing an unnecessary hurdle to the expansion of childcare slots.
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