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Baker plans major rate hikes for early education
State House News Service, Story by Michael Norton, March 29, 2017

Early education programs that provide care for low-income families in Massachusetts will receive a 6 percent increase in rates paid by the state, a financial jolt that may help with employee retention. The Baker administration announced the new rates Wednesday, estimating their value at $28.6 million and calling it the largest increase in rates for the subsidized programs in ten years. The administration also announced plans to reissue 1,110 child care vouchers in fiscal 2018, and said it would reinvest an additional $9.3 million a year to provide rate increases to providers who care for infants and toddlers. The Legislature needs to approve the rate increases by moving funding tied to the current fiscal year into fiscal 2018, according to the Baker administration. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg expressed support for Baker's announcement in a statement released by the governor's office. In early February, House Speaker Robert DeLeo also said the House budget plan due out in April would include increased funding for the early educator salary and benefit rate reserve as part of the Winthrop Democrat's broader plan to bolster an early education system "in crisis" with legislation to expand professional development. - Michael P. Norton/SHNS

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