Advocates Call for More Child Care Options | New

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BOSTON – Parents are struggling to find reliable and affordable child care as many providers struggle to stay afloat amid the ongoing economic fallout from the pandemic and worker shortages.

That’s according to a coalition of early childhood education advocates who say Massachusetts is not doing enough to support the child care industry as more people return to work.

“Child care is one of the most urgent needs of families, especially those with the lowest incomes,” said Chelsea Sedani, director of advocacy at the non-profit rights group based at Boston EMPath and a member of the Common Start Coalition. of the Judicial Committee of the Legislative Assembly Tuesday.

“The families we work with are spending too much of their income on childcare, which means they struggle to pay for other necessities and risk losing their jobs or forgoing opportunities. education, ”Sedani said.

Daycares are struggling financially after reopening after being closed last year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and advocates say low pay and rising child care costs are bankrupting some providers.

Meanwhile, healthcare providers are struggling to retain workers in an industry where wages are traditionally low and the risk of getting sick is now high amid an increase in COVID-19 infections, advocates say.

“The cost of child care in Massachusetts is one of the highest in the country, but the median income of an early childhood teacher is only $ 37,000,” Sarah Siah told the committee. , president of the Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children. “This is hardly considered a living wage in Massachusetts for an adult with children, and a lot of our educators earn less than that. “

Proposal, backed by nearly 100 lawmakers, calls for a state-wide five-year program that would allow low-income families to benefit from free early childhood education and child care , and provide subsidized care to eligible middle-income families.

Advocates say the plan would use a combination of direct provider funding and financial assistance to reduce costs for families while increasing provider compensation, which they say would increase the affordability and quality of the service. preschool education and childcare.

Supporters of the proposal note that the legislation does not include funding for the massive expansion of child care services, but point out that a boon of federal pandemic relief funding could be directed to the state. as part of a $ 2 trillion social services spending bill. by Congress.

Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, told the committee that the pandemic had “exacerbated the shortages of unaffordable child care services and its devastating impact on parents – especially mothers – being kicked out of the workforce.” .

“Our children are lacking vital development, especially after the past two years of social isolation they have gone through,” she said.

“We know that high quality preschool education has a direct correlation with a child’s success, preparing our students for success in Kindergarten to Grade 12 and higher education and throughout their adult lives.

“We need to make high quality early education accessible and affordable to all families in Massachusetts,” she added.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for newspapers and the North of Boston Media Group websites. Email him at [email protected]

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