Our executive director, Deb Fastino was highlighted by the Movement for Childcare this week.

You can check out the full profile on their website. Here’s a highlight.

How did you become involved in child care and early education work?

Having successfully participated in crafting a statewide system for paid family and medical leave in the Commonwealth, we learned that non-traditional partnerships can work for the betterment of all families in the Commonwealth, through our experience assembling the final details of the most comprehensive paid leave law in the country with business groups and legislative leaders. Quality education and care seemed like the next logical step to build on our victory for working families and children. We started our affordable and accessible high-quality early education and care campaign as an open process. We engaged diverse stakeholders in research and policy subcommittees to develop the bill language and a lobbying subcommittee to get through our co-sponsor drive. We were successful in drawing up a set of common goals, talking points and placeholder bill language.

What is the current state of child care and early education in your state and/or community?

While Massachusetts is a nationwide leader on early education and care and we’ve made progress in recent years, the current system is still unaffordable and/or inaccessible for many families. There are 1,121,237 children under age 15 (360,588 under age 5 and 760,649 between ages 5 and 14) in Massachusetts who may require paid child care services. About 330,514 children under age 15 are in paid care – 139,216 (38.6%) under age 5 and 191,298 (25.1%) between the ages of 5 and 14. About 69.7% of children birth to age 5 in Massachusetts are in non-parental care for at least 10 hours every week. The cost of care in Massachusetts remains a hurdle for many parents seeking to enter or stay in the labor force. The average annual cost of child care for an infant is $20,415 in a child care center and $12,750 in a family child care home. The average annual cost of infant center-based care is 160.3% of the cost of tuition and fees at a 4-year Massachusetts college. Center-based infant care is 28.8% of state median income.

What is at the top of your agenda, and what actions are you undertaking to accomplish these goals?

First, is our high-quality education and care campaign that was built off of the paid leave model and second is our implementation campaign to educate workers about the new paid leave law. In addition to the two campaigns below; we are working on the Fair Share Tax Amendment that will increase taxes by 4% on incomes over $1 million, protecting the welfare safety net, as well as immigrant, transportation, environmental and criminal justice work. In order to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce and strengthen our economy in a way that also reduces racial, gender, and income inequality in our state, Massachusetts families need affordable, accessible, high-quality early education and child care. We are convening a coalition of diverse groups that are working to build a comprehensive policy to address the various needs of every stakeholder. Needs include: affordable, accessible, high-quality education and care; accessibility includes non-traditional hours as well as regions were we have gaps in services. We are also looking at fair compensation for workers and providers.