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~ Op-Ed ~ One of the biggest and most sweeping plans in Mass. pre-K education and child care history will be a boon to families in Malden, region

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It did not take long for Governor Maura Healey to make it very clear why she was in Malden Wednesday. All one had to do was look around the facility where she made a major announcement – the Mystic Valley YMCA on Dartmouth Street – and see the place teeming with little ones.

“The reason why we are all here today?” Governor Healey told the many in attendance Wednesday, from all levels of government and education. “It’s these guys,” she said, gesturing to the large group of four-year-old boys and girls who were blissfully at play and learning at the “Y” this day.

In perhaps the most sweeping plan in Massachusetts history to address the need for relief and support of access to early education and child care, Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll joined with Malden, state and federal elected officials as well as local and state school leaders to unveil the “Gateway to Pre-K” initiative. The initiative will directly provide financial relief to caregivers and support of access to early education and child care to many more families in this city and far beyond, if fully funded in the FY25 Mass. budget.


Delivering universal, high-quality preschool access for four year olds in all Gateway Cities by the end of 2026

Every family of a four-year-old child in these 26 communities will have the opportunity – at a low or no cost – to enroll their child in a high-quality preschool program that prepares them for kindergarten. Increasing Child Care Financial Assistance (CCFA) eligibility from 50 percent of the state median income (SMI) to 85 percent SMI will help an additional 4,000 low- and moderate-income families afford care. Continuing Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) grants in FY25, providing stable funding for programs to improve quality, pay facility costs and hire more staff, thereby will create more classrooms where families can enroll their children in affordable child care. The Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (CPPI) is currently in 12 Gateway Cities (Brockton, Fall River, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, New Bedford, Salem, Springfield and Westfield). Through investments in the FY25 budget, the administration is proposing to expand CPPI into the 14 remaining Gateway Cities over the next two years.

Governor Healey announced her Gateway to Pre-K agenda in Malden, an example of a Gateway City that has benefited from CPPI, providing access to high-quality preschool through multiple partners: Malden Public Schools, Malden Early Education and Learning Program, Cheverus Catholic School, Little Love Bugs Daycare, My Little Best Friends Early Learning Center and Malden YMCA. Through CPPI, Malden has standardized the use of a high-quality preschool curriculum that integrates evidence-based practices in early literacy, as well as coordinates and intentionally aligns policies, assessments and professional development. Although the CPPI program is relatively new, Malden leaders have already noticed the significant impact.

“We all in Malden Public Schools love this program because we see it is going to have a big trajectory, big picture for students from prekindergarten to grade 12 to be ready for what every they want to do in life. It also allows our teachers and the community-based teachers to share in best practices and professional development, furthering their impact and sense of community,” said Malden Public Schools Superintendent Ligia Noriega-Murphy.

Malden Ward 4 Councillor Ryan O’Malley said, “I would like to thank Governor Healey and her administration for recognizing the early childhood education needs of working families in gateway cities. The economic health of Massachusetts is inextricably tied to the quality of education available in bellwether communities like Malden. This proposal is a needed step towards reimagining education funding in the Commonwealth.”

Malden Ward 8 School Committee member Sharyn Rose-Zeiberg said, “The importance of early education in children’s development has long been recognized. However, too many families have faced roadblocks to gaining access to affordable, high quality early education, preschool and care. I am excited and encouraged by the Governor’s plans to address the needs of our State’s families.”

Malden caregivers and many others in the region are grateful for the unprecedented show of support for more and access and relief in Governor Healey’s plan.

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