Education Policy: Early Childhood Education

Some of the most developmentally impactful years in a child’s life are before the age of five, but unfortunately many Maryland parents face significant barriers to getting their children the quality early education they need.

The cost of childcare in Maryland is among the highest in the country, even eclipsing the cost of college tuition in the state. No parent should have to choose between sending their child to preschool or college. Additionally, working families that do manage to send their children to early childhood education often do not qualify for Maryland’s Child Care Scholarship program or face a lack of quality options in their community. Because of this, they tend to spend a high percentage of their income on childcare. 

As with many issues related to inequity, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the already severe issues in Maryland’s early childcare system. The number of providers fell by almost 10% and pay has continued to decrease for early childhood educators — a group who already live at more than double the poverty rate of other Marylanders. 

The recently passed Blueprint for Maryland’s Future makes real progress: it increases funding for pre-K3 and pre-K4, expands access to Judy Centers and Family Support Centers, provides greater support for the early childhood workforce and programs, and improves the quality of early intervention programs for children with disabilities. John has fervently committed to fully and properly implementing the Blueprint, but is well aware that more still needs to be done to help all Maryland children and families. John knows we will have to do more to make certain that Maryland’s most vulnerable children reach Kindergarten ready to succeed, and ensure Maryland’s early childhood educators who support our precious children birth to 5 are paid and supported as they deserve to be. 

As Governor John will:

Expand income eligibility for childcare scholarships for Maryland families to increase access to high-quality early education. 

  • Cap parental contributions for families participating in the childcare scholarship program at no more than 7% of family income.
  • Raise the income eligibility cap for child care scholarships up to 100% of state median income, so that low- to middle-income families — roughly two-thirds of Maryland families — qualify for financial support in meeting the high cost of early education.
  • Increase scholarship reimbursement rates to ensure that child care providers and their staff are paid fairly and consistently for their services. 
  • Support and recognize high-quality, inclusive child care programs that serve vulnerable populations through providing bonuses to those rated highly by Maryland EXCELS. 

Institute universal, high-quality PreK for all 3- and 4-year-olds by 2030. 

  • Build upon the bold promise of the Blueprint and expand access to PreK at no cost to Maryland families. 
  • Provide support for and expand inclusive and linguistically appropriate classrooms. 
  • Improve program quality by incentivizing participation in Maryland EXCELS. 
  • Invest in construction of high-quality facilities for early childhood education. 

Improve compensation, training, and working conditions for early childhood educators, particularly the childcare workforce. 

  • Provide additional pathways for existing early childhood educators to earn their teaching certification so they may fully participate in the expansion of PreK. 
  • Establish a Blue Ribbon Commission to make recommendations on improving compensation and benefits for these workers.