Advancing Equity for Children, Families, and Providers with the Common Start Bill

Beth Chandler
Blog Post V2

YW Boston is proud to support H.489 and S.301: An Act providing affordable and accessible high quality early education and care to promote child development and well-being and support the economy in the Commonwealth, jointly known as the Common Start Bill

As an organization, YW Boston is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. For more than 150 years, YW Boston has been leading the fight to advance social equity. As a collective of women with a diverse array of identities and experiences, we strongly support the passage of the Common Start Bill. This legislation is key to achieving those goals in not only advancing equity for children, but families and providers that have borne the brunt of the collapse of an already broken childcare system in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic. Access to affordable childcare and well-paying childcare jobs are key to advancing racial, economic, gender, and education justice in the Commonwealth.   

This legislation’s reduction of costs to families is essential. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Massachusetts is the second most expensive state in the nation for infant care with infant care costing $8,134 more annually than in-state tuition at a four-year college. These staggering costs do not affect all residents equally. When coupled with pay inequity, we see vast disparities in the affordability of childcare across racial lines. The Center for American Progress has found that a median-income Black family would have to spend 56% of their income on childcare for two children. By comparison a similarly situated white family would only spend 26% of their income. 

This disparity can have disastrous effects on mothers careers, as women are more likely than men to step out of the workforce to care for children in heterosexual relationships. This can lead to compounded lost earnings throughout women’s lives given that time spent away from the workforce can threaten future career prospects. Making childcare both high quality and affordable is essential to remedying economic inequalities faced by women, people of color, and especially women of color and improving life outcomes for generations yet to come.   

As Patrice McInnis, parent and member of YW Boston’s Advocacy Committee, states in her testimony in support of the Common Start legislation: 

Because women are more greatly impacted by lack of childcare, making childcare more accessible and more affordable means that women can stay in the workforce, and we can create future generations of women leaders in both the public and private sectors. It is critical to pass the Common Start legislation this session so that we can show the residents of the Commonwealth that we place a priority on children and families and to serve as a role model for the rest of the country. 

We must also do better to support our childcare workers and providers, many of whom are women of color, which this legislation does by directing the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) to create compensation guidelines for educators and staff. In a 2020 brief, the National Women’s Law Center reported that 10% of childcare workers live below the poverty line, twice the rate for all workers in the United States. This rate is even higher for Asian/ Pacific Islander, Black, Latina, and immigrant women.  

 Common Start’s commitment to stabilizing the childcare industry while increasing educator salaries and professional development opportunities will have an outsized impact on women of color in the Commonwealth and implications for women across the country. It is essential to invest in the development of our educators to create a sustainable career for them to grow and thrive in, and to create learning environments where children can succeed. In nearly every success story, someone references a teacher that made an impact on their life, so we need to invest in teachers at all stages of their careers.  

Get Involved 

YW Boston is part of the statewide Common Start Coalition, along with partner organizations, providers, educators, parents, and advocates working to make childcare and early education affordable for all families. To share your story about your own struggles with childcare, about how it affects businesses, or about what obstacles you deal with as an educator or center administrator, click here. If you would like to write to your legislators to cosponsor bills advancing the Common Start vision, click here. 

About YW Boston’s Advocacy Work 

YW Boston works to eliminate racism and empower women through DEI services and advocacy. Our advocacy work is included under our 501(c)3, which means we do not endorse candidates, and we are non-partisan in the policies that we take on. Our advocacy work is planned and executed by a dedicated group of volunteers who apply and serve on our YW Boston Advocacy Committee.