Military and Law Enforcement Leaders Highlight Value of Early Education Investments in Massachusetts
Massachusetts members of Mission: Readiness and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids wrote to the Massachusetts Legislature's FY22 Conference Committee, urging critical investments in early education.
On Friday, June 11, Massachusetts members of Mission: Readiness and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids wrote to the Massachusetts Legislature’s FY22 Conference Committee, urging critical investments in programs dedicated to stabilizing and sustainably growing the early education workforce.
In their letter, the leaders urged legislators to make critical investments in the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative and the Rate Reserve Increase for Early Educators. Members cited a recent Council for a Strong America report, Massachusetts’ Working Families Need Early Care and Education, which details why our children’s earliest years play a critical role in our future national security and public safety. Read the letter below.
June 11, 2021
As Massachusetts military and law enforcement leaders, we understand the difficult challenges you face as you negotiate a final FY22 budget agreement. While the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic may be behind us, the long-term impacts of the public health and economic crisis will be felt by families in the commonwealth for years to come.
As you craft a budget agreement to strengthen the Commonwealth’s recovery efforts, we urge you to prioritize investments in early care and education.
While it may come as a surprise to some, Bay State military and law enforcement leaders are united in our belief that investments in early care and education are critical for our future national security and public safety. Today, a staggering 69 percent of young adults in Massachusetts are ineligible for military service, due to educational deficits, obesity, or a record of crime or drug abuse. Additionally, across our state correctional facilities are filled with inmates serving time for serious and costly crimes. Research overwhelmingly shows that high-quality programs can help to address both of these challenges, by boosting academic outcomes, supporting the development of social-emotional skills, steering kids away from crime, and even improving certain health outcomes.
Last month, our organizations, Mission: Readiness and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, released the enclosed research brief, Massachusetts’ Working Families Need Early Care and Education. The brief emphasizes the deep benefits of high quality early learning and care programs to the Commonwealth’s future strength and security. A moderated discussion on the brief featuring retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Jack Hammond and Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. can be found on our website.
Despite the strong outcomes afforded by these programs, access remains out of reach for far too many children and working families. Historic and systemic workforce challenges, exacerbated by closures and social distancing requirements over the last year, threaten the sustainability of existing programs.
For these reasons, we strongly encourage you to ensure that a final FY22 budget agreement includes direct investments that sustain and expand access to these programs, as well as ensure the sustainability of the workforce necessary to ensure they can function. Specifically, we urge you to fund the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (3000-6025) at $10,000,000 (Senate funding) and the Rate Reserve Increase for Early Educators (3000-1042) at $20,0000,000 (House funding).
We believe that these investments are vital to ensuring the strength and stability of programs critical to our national security and public safety. They’re also vital for our economy too; working parents depend on a safe place to send their child during the day. Our sister organization, ReadyNation, recently estimated that inadequate access to child care, just for infants and toddlers, costs Massachusetts taxpayers an estimated $1.6 billion annually in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue.
Early care and education plays a critical role in preparing children of the commonwealth for success, strengthening our national security, improving public safety, and strengthening our economy. We urge you to make these critical investments vital for our future strength and prosperity.