Special to the Gazette
Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Early Childhood announced the recipients of grants totaling $5.6 million from the Essential Worker and Stimulus and Stability Funds. These grants are part of Boston’s equitable and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic specifically through supporting child care centers and essential workers who work non-traditional hours. These programs are funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
“Investing in a robust and accessible childcare system is an investment in our collective future,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “With this grant, we can support childcare centers to expand their services for our essential workers, and provide better opportunities for childcare workers who serve as the backbone of youth development.”
Essential Worker Childcare Fund
The strain on our child care system created by the pandemic has made it even more difficult for parents and caregivers who work outside of the traditional 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. work day to find care for their young children. Recipients of the Essential Worker Childcare Fund presented a clear plan to increase the number of childcare providers who offer non-traditional hours for essential workers including hospital, construction and education workers who are helping Boston recover from the COVID 19 pandemic. The fund’s grantees – Building Pathways, Community Labor United and SEIU Education and Support Fund – will recruit center or family child care providers who will agree to provide early and late care and match them with essential workers who need that care.
“As a single mother who struggled to make ends meet and find suitable childcare, I understand the importance of having accessible, affordable, and reliable childcare services,” said City Councilor Julia Mejia. “Our office is incredibly proud to have worked in partnership with the coalition and administration to secure one million dollars to ensure that our childcare providers and non-traditional workers receive the assistance they need. This investment will be a game changer for both workers and providers and it’s the boost that our economy needs as we continue to work toward recovering from the pandemic.”
Stimulus and Stability Fund
As essential workers, child care workers have been on the front lines of balancing health and safety with the needs of families for child care during the pandemic. Due to these additional stressors, the sector has faced extensive retirements and staff loss to other jobs with higher wages in the retail sector. Another result of historically low wages, while other sectors have recovered more fully following COVID, child care centers continue to face severe staffing shortages. Stimulus and Stability grantees will provide immediate compensation relief to child care workers by providing higher wages, hiring and retention bonuses, and other compensation incentives. In addition, grant recipients will work on addressing years of low wages and compensations. Each will receive training and technical assistance to develop a compensation plan for their organization that raises teacher pay to a minimum of $22 per hour by 2025 and provides a sustainability plan for maintaining those wages. The 21 grantees represent 55 centers in 14 neighborhoods across Boston. Collectively, they are licensed to serve 4815 children ages newborn to five. These funds will ensure that they are able to staff classrooms at capacity and return to pre-COVID hours.
“I’m proud to have led the Boston City Council’s approval of this transformational investment in childcare for Boston’s families,” said Councilor Kenzie Bok. “Through these funds, we are investing in better pay, benefits, and licensure for thousands of childcare workers across our city. The long-term fruits of these federal funds will be more sustainable high-quality childcare options for all Bostonians, including our essential workers. Boston’s economy depends on excellent childcare: it changes the odds for both the parents of today and the young Bostonians of tomorrow.”
The twenty-one grant recipients are listed below: