BOSTON – Against the backdrop of deep budget cuts that are affecting Massachusetts' youngest citizens, Bay State drivers have raised more than $1 million to enhance the quality of child care through the “Invest in Children” license plate that debuted in 1998. Bink Garrison, chairman of the United Way of Mass Bay Leadership Council, Office for Child Care Services (OCCS) Commissioner Ardith Wieworka and Registrar of Motor Vehicles Kimberly Hinden made the announcement today at the Au Cu Preschool in Dorchester, the first Vietnamese/ American child care center in the country and a beneficiary of the license plate funds. This unique program opened its doors last week, providing its community with quality, cultural diverse child care to better meet the needs of area families.
The “Invest in Children” license plate was the first of its kind in the country and since its inception has benefited more than 85 child care programs in Massachusetts including the Au Cu Preschool operated in conjunction with Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses. Currently there are more than 14,500 “Invest in Children” license plates on the road.
“Although cliché, children are our future and the first few years of a child’s life are critical. This program is an important step in bringing both visibility to the needs of children, as well as the funding to ensure quality child care throughout Massachusetts,” said Garrison. According to the United Way, over 60% of Massachusetts children live in families where a single parent or both parents work outside the home and must depend on quality child care programs.
Funds raised through sale of the license plates are administered through the Child Care Quality Fund at OCCS, and grants are awarded to non-profit child care organizations to support staff training, accreditation, professional development workshops, and the purchase of playground equipment and other educational materials.
"In today's tough economic times, the “Invest in Children” license plate program provides child care agencies with funding for crucial services and materials they otherwise would not be able to afford." said OCCS Commissioner Wieworka, "All the drivers across Massachusetts who have generously purchased this plate should be proud. They have helped thousands of children receive top-notch care and education, building for success in school and in life. The proceeds from this plate buy computers, books and other educational materials, as well as training for teachers and equipment for programs. This initiative is a million dollar success and investment.”
The “Invest in Children” license plate costs $76, which includes the standard $36 registration fee. The plates can be purchased by visiting one of the Registry’s full-service locations or via the web at www.massrmv.com. Information about the plate can be obtained by calling 1-800-543-7363. “We are pleased to see this program flourish,” said Registrar Hinden. “It’s a great example of a public-private partnership that is helping some our youngest citizens and future drivers!”
"I would like to thank the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the Massachusetts Office for Child Care Services and the Registry of Motor Vehicles for their efforts to support child care in the Commonwealth," said Sandra Albright, executive director of Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses. "I am also grateful to all of the Massachusetts’ motorists with ‘Invest in Children’ plates on their cars. They have helped make this program a success.”
The United Way also recognized the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association for their work to promote the plate through dealerships around the state. The “Invest in Children” license plate was set in motion by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay’s Success by Six Initiative, a program that ensures children are healthy and ready to succeed by age six.