Early Education Leaders, an Institute at UMass Boston

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UMass Boston Team Cites Key Impacts of Expanding Affordable, Quality Child Care and Early Education in Massachusetts

A multidisciplinary team from UMass Boston has developed a simulator to produce estimates of key impacts of proposed legislation in Massachusetts to expand access to affordable, quality child care and early education. Led by the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation and the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, the UMass Boston Early Ed Cost and Usage Simulator Project (CUSP) analyzes changes in the utilization of licensed care and education, out-of-pocket costs for families, parental employment, and family income when eligible families pay considerably less for quality child care and early education, under the provisions of Senate Bill 301 (S. 301), which would expand access to affordable child care and early education.

Top-level findings from the initial research brief released today include:

  • 315,400—about half—of the 624,000 Massachusetts families with children under 14 (or under 17 with special needs) meet the income eligibility requirements of 85% of state family median income, the first eligibility stage in S. 301.
  • There would be a large increase in the percentage of families choosing to use licensed care and it would be most pronounced for children not yet school-age: up from 55% to 75% for infants; from 66% to 82% for toddlers; and from 64% to 76% for preschool children. 
  • S. 301 would shift much of the cost of child care and early education from the families that receive financial assistance onto the state, with $1.7 billion as the aggregate cost to the state for providing financial assistance to families.
  • For all income-eligible families with children who are not yet school-age the legislative proposal [S. 301] reduces all child care costs (licensed and unlicensed) as a percentage of income from 13.6% to 4.2%.
  • Mothers’ employment increases by 10,400—from 74.2% to 76.0% of mothers being employed.
  • Access to affordable child care and early education is expected to reduce single-parent family poverty rates by 3.1 percentage points from 41.6% to 38.5%; the two-parent poverty rate is reduced from 5.2% to 4.5%.

Anne Douglass, professor of early childhood education policy and founding executive director of UMass Boston’s Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, said, “Our estimates demonstrate that more than 90,000 additional children would have access to licensed care and education at a critical developmental period—benefiting them both in the short-term and over the course of their lives.”  

Randy Albelda, professor emerita of economics at UMass Boston, said, “By allowing families to obtain high-quality, affordable, and stable child care and early education, many more mothers will be able to participate in employment, boosting family income and, in some cases, moving families out of poverty.”

Alan Clayton-Matthews, associate professor emeritus in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Department of Economics at Northeastern University, explained that “financial assistance to families would substantially reduce the cost burden on families and help ensure that families could afford reliable care, with more than 30,000 parents able to engage in more employment and hours of work in the Commonwealth.”

UMass Boston CUSP will offer additional analyses in the coming months addressing the supply of early childhood educators given new demand anticipated and cliff effects, among other topics.

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