Wednesday, January 16, 2013

MassBudget: the benefits of Early Ed & Care....and the funding cuts

MassBudget    Information.
 Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center    Democracy.
The Benefits of Early Education and Care...
and the Cuts to Funding
Early education and care can provide lifelong benefits for young children, and it also helps support the day-to-day needs of working parents.

Two new MassBudget reports examine the positive impact early education and care can have, along with the funding cuts that have affected these programs. The first paper, "Declines in Spending on Early Education and Care in Massachusetts," tracks trends in funding since welfare reform in the mid-1990s and finds that:

  • Under pressure from the recession and the large revenue losses that followed the tax cuts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, spending on early education and care has fallen by 25% since 2001 (adjusted for inflation)

  • When we combine spending for early education and care with the other major source of support for lower-income parents--cash assistance--we find a $1 billion decline since 1995 (adjusted for economic growth)

The second paper, "Economic Gains from Early Education and Care" is authored by PERI economist and UMass professor Arthur MacEwan. It documents the large economic benefits of high quality early education and care. This includes both the contribution of parents who could not work without the support of reliable child care and also the long-term gains from kids whose life prospects are improved by early education. As MacEwan puts it:

"High quality programs can enhance children's cognitive and social development, which will shape their well-being throughout their lives. The higher salaries that the children then obtain later in life, the greater economic contribution to society that these salaries tend to reflect, and the higher resulting tax payments are important elements of the gains that have been observed. There are, however, many other indirect economic gains: lower incidences of grade retention and special education; elevated high school graduation rates and college-going rates; reduced reliance on social support programs; better health outcomes; and less engagement with the criminal justice system."

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.

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