Boston Mayor Michelle Wu invests $7 million in city child care

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Four Boston-based institutions were listed as recipients of the $7 million Grow the Workforce Fundwhich aims to support Boston’s struggling child care industry, Mayor Michelle Wu announced today.

The organizations — Bunker Hill Community College, Neighborhood Villages, Urban College, and the University of Massachusetts Boston — will use money from the fund to recruit new early childhood educators while helping existing early childhood educators obtain additional degrees.

Through grantees, the city will fund nearly 800 certificates or diplomas in the early childhood care sector. Grantees will also provide comprehensive support services to early childhood workers, such as apprenticeship and internship stipends, scholarships and mentoring.

Grantees will also guarantee early childhood workers two to three years of employment after graduation.

“It’s an investment in our families, in our economy and in our future,” Mayor Wu said at a press conference. “For all working parents who have had to struggle to find a center with enough staff to accommodate non-traditional working hours, for all early childhood educators who have struggled to find opportunities that recognize your value and compensate you fairly, for all of our cities children who deserve to be educated, fed and given the chance to become the leaders and changemakers you are destined to be, today’s announcement is for you.

Navigating the child care system can be challenging for many Boston-area parents. Councilwoman Julia Mejia explained that she was refused a childcare voucher because she earned “a little too much” to qualify. The only way for her to receive the voucher was to reduce the number of hours she worked.

“This whole system is put in place to keep us in poverty,” Councilor Meija said. Meija’s 12-year-old daughter is now ‘thriving’, the adviser said, as she was enrolled in a ‘solid’ childcare program in Project Hope.

“When we think about this particular moment and think about the investments we’re making, it’s a win for everyone,” adviser Meija said. “This is a victory for families juggling and struggling to make ends meet. This is a victory for students who will enter our schools ready to succeed and thrive. This is a victory for our early childhood educators. And it’s a win for the economy. It is a victory for all of us. »

The mayor’s announcement is part of his ongoing efforts to support Boston’s child care industry, which is still recovering from the mass exodus of workers who left the field at the start of the pandemic.

Low wages have always been one of the root causes of labor shortages in the child care industry.

In 2021, the average child care worker in Massachusetts earned $16.79 per hour or $34,920 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was 70% less than the average state salary that year.

Boston’s child care workforce is primarily made up of minority groups. Women make up 92% of child care workers in the city. Meanwhile, people of color and immigrants make up 62% and 39% respectively, according to the city’s department for the advancement of women.

However, under the economic strain of the pandemic, child care workers have left the field in droves for better paying jobs. Since February 2020 – just before the lockdown – the percentage of childcare jobs in the Commonwealth has fallen by almost 14%, according to an analysis of data from the University of California at Berkley.

In November, Mayor Wu earmarked $5.6 million for dozens of child care organizations in Boston, as part of a pair of federal grants dedicated to improving early childhood care.

Subsidies — Essential Workers Child Care Fund and Stimulus and Stability Fund – are both funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. Together, the grants are intended to stabilize Boston’s child care industry by increasing wages for workers and addressing staffing shortages.

Meanwhile, the 21 organizations that received stimulus and stability funds will receive help formulating a compensation plan to raise their teacher’s hourly salary to $22 by 2025, Wu said. Organizations will also receive a sustainability plan to help maintain these salaries. The organizations represent 55 centers in 14 Boston neighborhoods and serve 4,815 children ages 0-5.

Under the Essential Worker Child Care Fund, three organizations, Building Pathways, Community Labor United and SEIU Education and Support Fund, will recruit providers or family child care centers who agree to provide care early and late and match them with essential workers who need this care. , says Wu.

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