Policy Strategies & Innovations Link copied!

Innovation Name Innovation Type Innovation Subtype Features at a Glance Strategy Summary
Boston Public Schools Cost Estimation Model Cost Estimation for Determining Subsidy Rates

Partnered with the Children’s Funding Project to create a cost model

Established in 2005, Boston's Universal Pre-K (UPK) program, administered by the Boston Public Schools (BPS), offers free preschool for the city’s 3- and 4-year-olds in both public school buildings and community-based childcare organizations. Within a few years, it became apparent that the original funding level of $11,000 per child was inadequate and unsustainable for community-based child care organizations. BPS then partnered with the Children's Funding Project to create a cost model that disaggregated program costs to expose differences based on program length and per-child and per-classroom costs. As a result, in school year 2022–23 BPS implemented a hybrid funding model for UPK classrooms in community-based programs. This new approach provides a base funding level per classroom that covers staff salaries and benefits and an additional funding allocation per UPK-eligible child enrolled in the program.

Learn more: children's funding project
Executive Order on Inclusion of Daycare Facilities Expansion Physical Space and Facilities

Ongoing funding

In 2022, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signed an Executive Order on Inclusion of Daycare Facilities (IDF), which helps expand access to high-quality child care options throughout the city. For the previous 30 years, the IDF zoning regulations had required certain large developments to build child care programs on-site or contribute to the creation of off-site child care programs by contributing to a fund that supports and enhances child care across the city. The amount of each child care contribution had been subject to negotiation, resulting in inconsistencies in enforcement.

The 2022 executive order instead establishes a transparent formula for developers to adhere to, based on a Boston Planning and Development Agency assessment. In turn, their contributions are directed to a child care fund (instead of creating child care programs), providing a stable funding source for the City’s Office of Early Childhood to expand high-quality child care programs. As of May 2023, about 3 million square feet of development was under review, which is expected to generate an estimated $3.5 million in contributions to the child care fund. The Office of Early Childhood will use this money to expand high-quality child care programs and services in high-need areas of Boston by issuing grants to providers and providing training and technical assistance opportunities.

Learn More: Boston's Child Care Zoning Regulations

Source: City of Boston. (2022). Executive order issued to strengthen child care zoning regulations.

City of Boston Office of Early Childhood (OEC) Infrastructure Systems Data Systems

New office facilitates state-city-school district collaboration

In 2022, Mayor Michelle Wu announced the creation of the City of Boston Office of Early Childhood (OEC) to further the City’s commitment to universal, affordable, high-quality early education and care for all children under five, making OEC a key partner to the state Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Boston Universal Pre-K (UPK) program. The OEC aims to expand access to early education and child care programs, invest in Boston’s early education and care workforce, and serve as a central point of entry for residents looking for information on early education and child care programming and wraparound services for young children and their families.

With the support of the OEC, Boston's UPK program plans to integrate family child care programs as approved providers during the 2023–24 school year. This expansion means Boston UPK’s mixed-delivery system will include three types of settings: Boston Public Schools (BPS) classrooms, community-based organizations, and family child care. BPS and OEC will partner with 20 family child care providers, members of the UPK Advisory Board, and other experts to design the new family child care UPK program.

Learn more: Boston Universal Pre-K

Source: City of Boston (2022). Office of Early Childhood Created to Prioritize Wellbeing of Young Children and Families.

Boston Universal Pre-Kindergarten Expansion Universal Pre-K Policy (4-Year-Olds)

Number of 3- and 4-year-olds seats: ~4,000
Minimum hours of operation: 6.5 hrs/day; 180 days/yr

Since 2005, Boston’s mixed-delivery Universal Pre-K (UPK)  system has been offered to families with 4-year-olds for 6.5 hours per day, 180 days per year. Universal Pre-K programs in Boston are housed in Boston Public Schools, community-based providers, and family child care providers. Additionally, the city opened applications in March 2023 to include family child care providers in the cohort of programs eligible to offer UPK seats.

Learn More: Boston Universal Pre-Kindergarten

Boston Public Schools. (n.d.). About Boston Universal Pre-K.
Boston Public Schools. (2022). Boston Universal Pre-K Program 2021-2022 Year in Review.
City of Boston. (2023). Steps Taken to Increase Availability, Variety of Preschool Seats for Boston Families.

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Demographics Link copied!

City population

650,706 Source U.S. Census, 2021

Persons under 5 years old

4.80% Source U.S. Census, 2021

Poverty levels: Children 0-8 below 200% poverty

47% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Median family income among households with children

$77,600.00 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Unemployment rate

3.60% Source U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force

N/A Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Children living in households with a high housing cost burden

41% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

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Additional data coming soon!