Healey will target cities for new child care aid

By CHRIS LISINSKI

State House News Service

Published: 01-16-2024 11:13 AM

BOSTON — Gov. Maura Healey will press forward in her annual state budget with major investments into early education and child care despite her administration’s own forecast of limited revenue growth.

Healey announced Tuesday that she will propose spending to expand a universal preschool program into all 26 “gateway cities” by 2026, make more low- and moderate-income families eligible for child care aid, and fund another year of early education provider grants.

She outlined the plans and introduced an executive order calling for a “whole-of-government approach” to boosting access to child care one day before her first State of the Commonwealth address and about a week before she unveils her fiscal year 2025 budget bill.

Healey’s office did not put a cost estimate on her plans. The current state budget allocates $475 million for the Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) grants to providers, and Healey said she would call for “sustaining our historic investments in C3 grants.”

“Far too many parents are being held back from returning to the workforce because of the daunting cost of child care, and providers are facing the difficult decision between continuing in the profession they love or leaving for a higher-paid career,” Healey said in a statement. “Our budget proposal will help to relieve those pressures by expanding high-quality Pre-K access, delivering more financial assistance to thousands more families, and sustaining our historic investments in C3 grants to providers.”

Healey’s office said the state’s Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative, which currently runs in 12 Gateway Cities, gives every 4-year-old equitable access to preschool while giving families multiple options for providers. The governor plans to propose investments over the next two years to expand the program into the 14 remaining Gateway Cities.

She also called for increasing the eligibility threshold for the Child Care Financial Assistance (CCFA) program from 50 percent of the state median income to 85 percent, which Healey’s office said would help about 4,000 more families.

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