WATCH: Discussion on Massachusetts childcare during coronavirus pandemic

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (MassSenate.gov) –

SPRINGFIELD — Today, Senator Eric P. Lesser was joined by Joan Kagan, President and CEO of Square One, for a livestream conversation on childcare and early education amidst Massachusetts’ reopening. For more than a century, Square One (formerly the Springfield Day Nursery) has been providing early education and childcare support for working families and across the region. Kagan also serves on the boards of the Springfield Regional Chamber, the Public Health Institute of Western MA, and the Massachusetts Association of Day Care Agencies. The video from the livestream can be accessed on Facebook and Twitter

Joan Kagan gave background on the services that Square One normally provides, and described how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their work. She spoke about Square One’s shift to providing delivery services to its families, including diaper and food distribution. Although its center-based programs have closed, the organization has continued to operate a few of its family childcare programs for children of essential workers.

Senator Lesser spoke with Kagan about the vital role of childcare during economic recovery. “As the Coronavirus has shown, childcare is a very critical part of our economy,” said Kagan. “If parents can’t go to work because they can’t find childcare, the economy suffers, and employers suffer.”

The two also discussed the challenges involved in reopening childcare centers, a process that will begin on June 29th. Facilities will be capped at half-capacity, and teachers must aim to promote social distancing amongst their children—many of whom value physical contact. In addition, the reduced capacity will likely put great strain on an industry that was already in high demand and grossly underfunded. Kagan explained that childcare programs like Square One already run at a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, so additional support will be needed in order to weather this pandemic. 

Kagan has been working closely with the Commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care to develop a revised model for state funding, and she looks forward to presenting this proposal to the Legislature.

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