Parents ask lawmakers for more pre-school funding

Child advocates support Gov. Patrick's state budget proposal

BOSTON (WWLP) – Hundreds of parents came to Beacon Hill Monday with their toddlers, advocating for pre-school funding.

Experts say schooling young learners early has a life long impact in preparing them for kindergarten and preventing them from falling behind in school throughout their lives.

Faced with high turnover and long waitlists, child advocates are asking state lawmakers to increase money for early education. Child advocates support Governor Deval Patrick’s state budget proposal that adds $15 million to expand early education.

Patrick’s budget Secretary Glen Shor said the money would take 1,700 kids off waitlists and expand the program to more than 4,000 children from poor families.

According to Nicole Blais, the spokesperson for Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield Head Start, “A couple of the priorities are providing more access. We have several hundred on our waitlist for our programs in Holyoke, Chicopee and Springfield and some of the surrounding communities that we work for.”

A Special Commission on Early Education and Care says more than 40,000 children are currently on pre-school waitlists throughout the Commonwealth.

The Commission report also found a nearly 30 percent turnover rate in early education staffing, which educators say is due to insufficient salaries.