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Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
childhood, education, policy, public health
Access to early childhood education not only leads to improved social, academic, and health outcomes for children, but can also carry the same benefits into adulthood. Early education and care programs can work against some of the negative effects of social factors such as socioeconomic status, discrimination, social support, and work demands which have been linked to physical and mental health outcomes. Early education programs could intervene not only in the life of a child, but also impact parents, families, and populations. This thesis will review the research showing early childhood education leads to better social and health outcomes and that there is a lack of adequate access to early childhood education for low-income families in Massachusetts. This thesis presents three state-level policy options for making early childhood education more accessible to low-income families in Massachusetts: lengthen the certification period of child care vouchers; reduce the administrative burden on families including eliminating the need for double documentation; dissolve the child care subsidy waiting list by making child care services an entitlement for families at or below 50% State Median Income. These policy options are evaluated based on the criteria of political feasibility, equity and fairness, administrative ease, effectiveness, and cost. Based on this policy analysis, a recommendation is made for Massachusetts to lengthen the certification period of child care vouchers, as well as reduce the administrative burden on families including eliminating the need for double documentation.