The month of October has brought big news for young kids, in the form of high quality child care that their families can afford, thanks to the Fair Start for Kids Act.
An additional 6,000 families will be able to find and keep child care over the next year, according to the Department of Children, Youth & Families. Why? Because two measures in Fair Start for Kids took effect Oct. 1.
First, families with higher incomes are no longer disqualified from subsidized child care. Fair Start for Kids increased eligibility to 60 percent of state median income, or nearly $52,000 for a family of three. Second, the new law has capped participating families’ payments at $115 per month. That means thousands of families will no longer face impossible choices between food on the table, rent, car repair, utility bills and child care.
These positive changes have come with good news for child care providers, too: as of July 1, the state made strides toward paying child care providers for the full cost of care, raising Working Connections subsidy payments to a calculated 85th percentile of the calculated market rate—in other words, the monthly payment that child care providers typically charge families in the open market. This is crucial support for professional early childhood caregivers, many of whom provided essential care through the pandemic.
Ongoing funding for the provisions of the Fair Start for Kids Act is possible through progressive revenue measures like the state’s new excise tax on capital gains. Starting in 2023, the tax will add hundreds of millions of dollars to support public education, including quality early care and pre-K.
Quality child care is not only a win-win-win for kids, families and communities, but COVID has proven that it’s essential to rebuilding our economy and putting people back to work. Now’s a moment to celebrate the expansions created by Fair Start for Kids—and welcome thousands of families into a future of affordable high-quality early experiences that allow their children to thrive.