Child Care in Massachusetts and National Security
How greater access to high-quality child care in Massachusetts can help improve military readiness
Our national security depends on qualified young adults who are ready, willing, and able to serve in the U.S. military. However, educational deficits, health issues, and behavior problems currently prevent 69 percent of Massachusetts youth from qualifying for service.
There is scientific consensus that brain development from birth-to-age-5 sets the stage for children’s future success. Seventy-two percent of children under the age of 6 in Massachusetts have parents or a single parent who works outside the home, and many of these children are not in high-quality child care.
From our military experience, we know that training is critical to success. Without improvements to the child care system, as well as adequate training and professional development opportunities for those who work in early care and education, our nation risks an even smaller recruiting pool in the future.
Although the quality of child care in Massachusetts is higher than in many other states, only about one-third of child care centers and 4 percent of family child care homes in Massachusetts are accredited. To achieve high quality, child care providers must be well-trained, both before they start teaching and once they are on the job, and adequately compensated.
Given the long-term benefits of high-quality child care to children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development, Commonwealth and federal policymakers should continue to promote quality, access and affordability. Massachusetts policymakers should also prioritize efforts to attract and retain high-quality providers by continuing to build upon recent bipartisan investments in the early education rate reserve.
Support for high-quality child care is an investment in our future national security.