Alliance Leader Jay Gonzalez, President & CEO of CeltiCare Health, was featured in The Boston Business Journal on March 27, 2015 in an Op-Ed discussing the importance of high-quality early education and childcare availability and affordability. Read the full article below.

By Jay Gonzalez, President & CEO of CeltiCare Health

Jay Gonzalez is President & CEO of CeltiCare Health, chairman of the Board of Early Education and Care, and the state’s former secretary of administration and finance.

Jay Gonzalez is President & CEO of CeltiCare Health, chairman of the Board of Early Education and Care, and the state’s former secretary of administration and finance.

Many businesses face common challenges. We don’t have enough qualified people applying for our open positions. Too often employees miss work because of childcare challenges. These challenges impact our competitiveness. What can we do to address them? Support making high-quality early education and care affordable and available to every child and family.

Studies have shown that children enrolled in quality early education and care programs do better in school, earn higher levels of income over their careers, and are less likely to go to jail or depend on government-subsidized programs as adults.

Yet, despite these benefits, we invest far less in the education of our children during their most formative years than we do later in their lives, when it is less impactful.

There are consequences to our underinvestment.

Reading at grade level in third grade is a key indicator of future academic and career success. But because we are not providing our youngest children with the solid foundation they need to succeed in school, 43 percent of Massachusetts’ third graders are reading below grade level.

While I was able to enroll my daughters in early education programs, it’s not an option for tens of thousands of children in Massachusetts because their families can’t afford it. Most of them aren’t eligible for government assistance, and about 17,000 are eligible but are stuck on a waiting list.

There is also important work to be done to improve the quality of early education and care programs to ensure children get the preparation they need to succeed.

Investing in our young children should matter to all of us in the business community. In the near term, businesses will have a more dependable workforce if their employees have increased access to quality early education and care programs for their kids.

Over the long-term, businesses will improve their performance with a more qualified workforce. Most importantly, this should matter to our business community because it matters to our broader community. We all have a stake in the success of all of our children.

We can’t get there all at once. But we can call on our public officials to develop a comprehensive, multiyear plan, and they should take the first steps to implement that plan. The Board of Early Education and Care has offered such a proposal for consideration.

Now is the time to call on our public officials to act. Let them know how important universal access to quality early education and care is to the business community, to our broader community, and, most important, to our children.