The Massachusetts child care system needs an estimated $690 million to survive the next five months, and a millionaire's tax may be a way to get the money, according to two new reports released this week.
An analysis by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center said child care providers would need $690 million to keep them afloat during the next five months. The funding would help recover tuition lost during state-mandated closures and pay for the increased cost of new health regulations once they reopen. It would also nearly double the amount of funding the state currently spends on early education and care.
"We shouldn't wait until the worst-case scenarios have happened to act," said Colin Jones, senior policy analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and author of the report. "We shouldn't wait until hundreds of providers are saying, 'We can't open, we're going under.' "
The state received $45.7 million in federal CARES Act funding, and is working on distributing that to providers who serve low-income families.
But half of the Massachusetts child care market relies solely on parents paying out of pocket for care. Parents here pay higher prices than in any other state. Only Washington, D.C. families pay more.
That's why the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and labor advocacy groups are pointing to the millionaire's tax as one way to invest in early education and child care.
"The reality of the child care system is there is a gap between what parents can afford to pay for child care and watch child care providers deserve to earn in order to make living wages," said Lindsey McCluskey, deputy director at Community Labor United. "And that gap needs to be filled by public funding. Absent that, the solutions are insufficient."
Community Labor United spearheaded a report released Friday that called for the tax and other changes, but also for an emphasis on the workers providing care.
"It will all be decided in these coming months," said Sarah Jimenez, senior researcher at Community Labor United. "We need to decide that we're going to invest in child care like the public good that it is and that the money is going to go to not just some child care segments, but to all the child care segments that touch all families and all care workers."
There are also federal efforts underway to help child care providers. Another $3 trillion coronavirus relief package has passed the House, but has yet to not come up for a vote in the Senate. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Katherine Clark have also introduced measures to provide $50 billion in additional child care assistance.