Patrick talks child poverty, Shattuck Center

August 1, 2014
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JACKSON SQ.—Gov. Deval Patrick came to Nurtury Learning Lab in Bromley-Heath last week to present an annual report on the state of child welfare in the Commonwealth.

While there, he said that his office will “continue to work” with the Shattuck Child Care Center in Forest Hills, which is desperately looking for a new location in the next year.

According to the KIDS COUNT ranking, issued by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Massachusetts has the best quality of life for children, largely because of investments in early education and healthcare.

However, it still has one of the greatest disparities between income levels in the nation.

“Even though the picture looks good overall, many communities of color are struggling,” Massachusetts Law Reform Institute Executive Director Georgia Katsoulomitis told the Gazette at the July 22 event.

According to Katsoulomitis, only 15 percent of Massachusetts’s children live below the poverty line. But that figure is 46 percent in the Roxbury area near Bromley-Heath.

“This study just tells us what we already know,” state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez said at the meeting, adding that the state needs to invest in poorer neighborhoods.

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz said that Massachusetts needs to “keep investing” in its children, so the 53 percent of fourth-graders who don’t read at grade level can do better.

After the presentation, in response to a Gazette question, Patrick said that his office “has been working for over a year” on finding an “efficient solution” to the Shattuck Child Care Center’s crisis.

The state-subsidized Shattuck Child Care Center was written out of the state budget during Senate and House budget reconciliation talks last month, gutting the center’s hopes for a permanent home. The center currently has one year to find a new home or be shut down.

Shattuck Child Care Center Board member Clare Reilly previously told the Gazette that the language removed from the supplemental budget would have allowed the center to remain on the Shattuck campus for another 15 years. While the center would have had to leave its current rooms, the state would have allowed the center space to park a portable unit for that time.

Without a lease for the portable unit in place, Reilly said, the center is unable to secure financing to purchase it.

“That was not an efficient solution,” Patrick said at the event. “We’ll continue to work with them for an efficient solution.”

Chang-Díaz, along with local state Reps. Liz Malia and Sanchéz, has been a big supporter of the child care center.

The center has previously applied for space for the mobile unit on Shattuck grounds, which the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) has denied.

Last year, Patrick called for universal access to high-quality early education for children across the state, from birth through age 5.

The child care center was founded in 1969 as the National Council of Jewish Women day care center and renamed in 1989. It was used as a recruitment tool for state employees to come work at Shattuck.

Gov. Deval Patrick (at podium), along with local elected officials, including state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz and City Councilors Tito Jackson and Matt O’Malley, and members of various nonprofits during the July 22 press conference. (Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira)

Gov. Deval Patrick (at podium), along with local elected officials, including state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz and City Councilors Tito Jackson and Matt O’Malley, and members of various nonprofits during the July 22 press conference. (Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira)