At White House Event, Governor Healey Highlights Massachusetts’ Nation-Leading Work to Make Child Care More Affordable

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Boston — Governor Maura T. Healey today participated in the Biden-Harris administration's "Making Care Work" event, in honor of Care Workers Recognition Month and the Month of Action on Care. The event marked the one-year anniversary of President Biden's Executive Order on Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers. During her remarks, Governor Healey highlighted her administration's nation-leading efforts to expand access to affordable, high-quality child care, including for workers, and her aggressive approach to competing for federal funding.

White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden, Director of the Gender Policy Council Jennifer Klein, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Shailen Bhatt, Governor Tina Kotek of Oregon, Governor Kathy Hochul of New York, tradeswomen, care advocates, and business community representatives also participated in the event.

President Biden's Care EO directed every cabinet-level agency to determine how they can require, preference, or encourage their own federal funding applicants to provide supportive services, including care, for workers. Governor Healey outlined her administration's efforts to provide supportive services to Massachusetts workers with the help of federal funding.

The MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board and its community partners are currently seeking a $20 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant through the CHIPS and Science Act called the Distressed Area Recompete Pilot Program. The proposal will create a Workforce Training System that will help provide child care, education, job training, and employment opportunities for workers in Springfield and Holyoke. The coalition applicants -- one of 22 other finalists across the country -- are currently working to finalize their application, which is due on April 25.

Last year, as part of the Healey-Driscoll administration's commitment to aggressively compete for federal funding, Massachusetts was awarded $19.7 million through the federal CHIPS and Science Act to establish the Northeast Microelectronics Coalition Hub (NEMC). NEMC is a regional hub that will advance the microelectronics needs of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) while spurring new jobs, workforce training opportunities, and investment in the region's advanced manufacturing and technology sectors.

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Governor Healey has made expanding access to affordable, high-quality child care a top priority of her administration. Massachusetts is the only state in the nation to continue funding child care stabilization grants via the transformative Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) program at the level the federal government did after the federal funding expired. C3 has helped to keep over 7,000 child care programs open and supported over 42,000 educators. The Governor has also proposed a Gateway to Pre-K agenda that would set a pathway for universal high-quality, affordable preschool access statewide and increase child care financial assistance.

Governor Healey's remarks are below and a recording of the event can be found here.

I really appreciate the opportunity to be here today and to join you, Director Klein, Secretary Raimondo, Administrator Bhatt and of course my fantastic colleagues who you just heard from, Governors Kotek and Hochul, who are doing great things on so many fronts and certainly committed to this particular issue.

I also want to thank all the advocates, employers, and tradeswomen joining us today. Special shout out to Nancy Luc who you'll hear today from Building Pathways in Boston, which is a great program.

I just want to say at the outset how grateful I am to President Biden and Vice President Harris for prioritizing job creation and investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, clean energy, and so much more. These investments have already produced historic economic growth across this country.

They are empowering states like ours to not only create good jobs – but also fill those jobs, by reaching and supporting workers who have for far too long have been shut out.

So, I just want to begin with thanks to the Biden-Harris administration for the many investments that we've been able to make as a result of their strategic investments and funding.

When we talk about infrastructure, we're talking about child care, and that is something that the Biden Harris administration understands—that child care is an absolutely essential foundation for economic growth. You heard Governors Kotek and Hochul speak about that, and employers, both public and private, absolutely need to bring child care on board to work and power us forward.

Here in Massachusetts, we've done a few things. We've leveraged ARPA funds to launch a stipend program for participants in workforce training programs – to help them by supporting their child care, transportation, and technology needs, among other resources.

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We are also partnering with labor on infrastructure projects: to support pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs that deploy the supportive services model as a proven strategy for diversifying good careers in the Trades. And when I talk diversifying, I'm really speaking to bringing more women into the trades and into these jobs.

I also want to talk about how our federal partnership with the Biden administration has enabled us to do new innovations. We are thrilled to be a finalist in the Commerce Department's Distressed Area Recompete Pilot Program through the CHIPS & Science Act. Just another example of the programming that is transformational that the Biden-Harris administration is making possible.

We have an area in western Massachusetts that suffers from the highest level of poverty and unemployment in our state. It is also an area where there's a great opportunity for growth, one of our clean energy companies is about to build out there but we need to support a workforce. So, we now have a plan that we just built out with our regional workforce board that takes a new approach to addressing some of these deep inequalities of race and geography.

Today I am announcing a $20 million plan that would create a workforce training system that provides not only access to skills and jobs there but also importantly child care, transportation and social support.

The worker has to be the focal point here, making sure they have the support they need to be able to do these jobs and move into great careers. The focus on supportive services is really critical in this moment, not only for achieving equity but achieving sustained economic growth and recovery.

Our economy is strong. The unemployment rate has been near historic lows. But many employers are having a hard time filling the jobs they have open because some of our residents are held back by barriers that are systemic. That is what these programs and opportunities through the Chips and Science Act enable.

This partnership with the Biden Harris administration will enable us to provide affordable quality child care, that in particular has limited the ability of women to fully participate, achieve financial independence and overcome wage gaps. That is why it's a priority for the Biden-Harris administration and one that we embrace and that we will support.

I am proud over the last two years to have been able to fund a program here we call the Commonwealth Cares program, which has kept 7,000 child care programs open here in Massachusetts and 4,200 child care educators working. We're also continuing to expand financial assistance for low- and moderate-income families. And we recently we have launched a plan called Gateway to Pre-K to achieve universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds in our state.

Ultimately this is not just a whole-of-government approach, but a whole-of-society need.

So we are bringing everyone to the table to solve this child care challenge – educators, employers, advocates, and labor. And we're grateful to the Biden Administration, and their partners in Congress, for prioritizing care and supportive services – today, and every day.

This is an unprecedented step forward in national economic policy, one for which I am particularly very grateful for. Thank you for the opportunity to share our story with you today.

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