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Massachusetts

The Alliance’s lead ally in Massachusetts, Strategies for Children, works to ensure that young children, families, and early childhood professionals in Massachusetts have the support they need to thrive. In partnership with early childhood stakeholders, SFC works to convene, connect, advocate, and develop policy solutions, leading to the public investments needed for the continued recovery and growth of the early education and care field. In 2023, Strategies for Children released The Early Childhood Agenda, 10 priorities for building a stronger early childhood system, informed by parents and providers throughout the state.

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. This is important because research shows that rapid brain development occurs during the early childhood years. 

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey signed the state’s fiscal 2024 budget into law on August 9. The fiscal 2024 budget provides for general appropriations of $56.0 billion, after line item vetoes of $276 million; this total reflects a 0.4 percent increase over fiscal 2023 projected spending. The state’s January 2023 consensus revenue forecast had projected state tax revenues at $40.4 billion in fiscal 2024, a 1.6 percent increase over estimated fiscal 2023 revenue at that time, in addition to $1 billion from a new voter-approved surtax. The state is expected to have a rainy day fund balance of $8.5 billion in fiscal 2024 after an anticipated deposit of $525 million.3

Largest Per Capita Revenue Sources (after federal transfers) (FY 2021):4

    • Individual Income Taxes: $2,814 per capita
    • Property Taxes: $2,797 per capita 

Political Alignment: Aligned Democrat

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Democrat controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Democrat.5

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:6  Five

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Voter-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – An amendment to a state’s constitution that comes about through the initiative process.
    • Legislature-Initiated State Statutes – Appear on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Voter-Initiated State Statutes – Earn a spot on the ballot when sponsors collect signatures according to the laws governing the initiative process in Massachusetts.
    • Veto Referenda – When citizens of Massachusetts disagree with a statute or legislative bill enacted by the state legislature, they can collect signatures to force the issue to a vote. If enough signatures are collected, the bill is placed on the statewide ballot.

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:7

2023 Policy Progress:

Massachusetts continues to invest in early education and care at historic levels. The fiscal year 2024 state budget passed by our Legislature includes a $268 million (22%) increase over FY23 appropriations. This includes sustaining our federal, ARPA-funded child care sustainability grants (called C3 grants in Massachusetts) for another year with $475 million in state funding.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:8

A Massachusetts FY24 state budget that:

    • Sustains federal, ARPA-funded child care sustainability grants (called C3 grants in Massachusetts) with $475 million in state funding.
    • Expands preschool through the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative. The budget included a $5.5 million increase over FY23 spending, making this the fourth consecutive year of increases for this critical line item. Grants currently reach dozens of local communities, expanding access to high-quality preschool in the mixed-provider system.
    • Funds facilities. A new line item, early education and care capital improvements, funded at $15 million with revenue from our Education and Transportation Fund (revenue from our state’s new income surtax on incomes above $1 million).

Implementation of FY23 funding for the new early educator pilot, including child care subsidies for early education and care staff’s own children, with eligibility between 50-85% State Median Income. The pilot has reached hundreds of educators and children, helping to attract and retain staff and address our ongoing child care workforce shortage. Despite the governor’s veto of this funding in FY24, we are hopeful that EEC will find funding to continue the program.

Universal Free School Meals. This addresses priority 10 of the Early Childhood Agenda, with advocacy led by coalition partner Feed Kids Campaign. We will work with the Campaign to address early childhood food security in the coming year.

An expanded child tax credit. Advocates worked with policymakers to pass a new Child & Family Tax Credit of $310 per dependent in 2023 that will increase to $440 per dependent in 2024.

In addition, the Common Start bill passed in the Senate in 2022, but not the House. It was refiled in January 2023 and advocates are hopeful for passage by the full Legislature by the end of the 2023-2024 session.

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantee in Massachusetts, Strategies for Children, is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Child Care Workforc

Pre-School and Pre-K

Child and
Maternal Health

Family
Supports

Family Economic Security

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Data Systems

Early Childhood Finance and Cost Modeling

Click here for more information on advocates’ policy agenda. 

NOTES:

1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 Urban Institute, State Fiscal Briefs, July 2023

5 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

6 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

7 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

8 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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