UMass Researchers Examining Universal Child Care Costs

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — As state lawmakers continue weighing early education legislation, a team of researchers at University of Massachusetts Boston will work to model costs of universal child care.

The project aims to simulate the costs of one particular bill (H 605, S 362), which supporters have dubbed the Common Start bill and which proposes significant reforms to a care system that has drawn sharper attention during the pandemic's upheaval.

The bill would establish a universal system of early education and child care from birth through age 5 in Massachusetts, through a five-year rollout of a program ultimately allowing families earning less than half the statewide median income to access early education and care for free, with families earning above that threshold paying up to 7 percent of total household income. It would also create a new direct-to-provider funding allocation.

Researchers envision providing policymakers with information including estimates of costs of care under the bill, increased income tax revenue from workers with reliable child care, and potential new family earnings from increased labor supply.

Researchers plan to release their findings in fall 2022, well after the Education Committee's May 1 deadline to act on the Common Start and other early education bills. A report would also land after formal lawmaking sessions conclude on July 31, meaning any action responding to its findings would likely not come until at least 2023.

A commission reviewing the economics around early education and care in Massachusetts, led by Education Committee chairs Rep. Alice Peisch and Sen. Jason Lewis, missed a March 1 deadline to file its report, and a $1.6 billion supplemental budget the House passed Wednesday would give the panel a new April 15 deadline. Officials in the Senate and House have suggested that report could serve as a basis for some sort of child care legislation.

Written by Katie Lannan/SHNS

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