On July 7, the Massachusetts Senate passed comprehensive legislation to lower costs for early childhood care and education. The bill the Senate approved included language from a trio of amendments filed by Senator John F. Keenan to ensure proper oversight and representation on appointed boards tasked with educator workforce development and workplace childcare benefits.
“The Senate’s early childhood care and education bill seeks to ensure that Massachusetts children will get the supports they need that their families can afford,” said Sen. Keenan. “This legislation represents a vital investment in our Commonwealth’s future.”
With S.2971, An Act to expand access to high-quality, affordable early education and care, the Commonwealth will lower expenses that families are typically responsible for while also investing more in existing education infrastructure. Under this bill, more Massachusetts residents who fall into the middle-income bracket will be eligible for childcare subsidies, increasing the qualifying threshold from 50% of state median income to 125%. This bill also invests additional funding in the Commonwealth’s public education system by raising the salaries of early education professionals.
The bill as passed included language filed by Sen. Keenan, initially as two separate amendments, that dealt with the newly established advisory council tasked with overseeing workforce development for educators. Sen. Keenan’s amendments added three current educators as members, including one early career educator, and required that a new commission responsible for offering recommendations on employer-supported childcare benefits include one member whose current employer does not offer such benefits. A third amendment filed by Sen. Keenan sought to grant Quincy College students access to scholarships established in the legislation. This language was incorporated into the bill when consolidated with an amendment filed by Senator Michael O. Moore of Worcester.
“I believe that as we work to bolster the development of our childcare workforce, those who work in the field should have the opportunity to provide their valuable input based on their experiences,” said Sen Keenan.
“In addition to investing in our youngest learners and their families, we also need to maintain a well-trained workforce of educational professionals who are paid well enough to remain in their chosen field,” said Sen. Keenan.
As the next step in the legislative process, the Senate bill will now go to the House of Representatives for further action.