"I am proud to support these entrepreneurs and small business owners who are providing a crucial service in our neighborhoods," said Mayor Walsh. "In addition to elevating the value of care workers, providing families with accessible, affordable childcare options is essential to keeping parents, especially women, in the workforce."
Until November 15, businesses will be able to apply for three types of grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000: start-up grants to accelerate the process for early educators starting new family childcare businesses; flexible grants for existing childcare entrepreneurs; and co-op grants for groups of childcare entrepreneurs to explore shared services and cooperative models.
"The Childcare Entrepreneur Fund Pilot is an important investment in giving childcare and early education providers the skills they need to create successful, sustainable businesses," said Kristin McSwain, executive director of the Boston Opportunity Agenda. "Reliable, affordable childcare is a necessity for working Boston families - and this program can help ensure that working families have the care they need to be able to stay in the city."
The pilot was created after years of research, including one-on-one conversations and home visits with early educators and stakeholders in the early education sector. According to the results of the City's first annual childcare survey released today, Making Childcare Work, 86 percent of the respondents listed "not affordable" as a top childcare challenge. Additionally, 45 percent said childcare was either "too far or too difficult" to find, and almost a third of parents/guardians who stay home to care for their children said they needed to or wanted to work.
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"I am thrilled to see the City of Boston recognizing the value of our work as education professionals," said Ms. Johany Bobadilla, owner of My First Steps Family Childcare in Roxbury. "We transform our own homes to provide loving learning environments for Boston's babies and young children and when we have the support of the community around us, we become better caregivers."
The City of Boston has lost more than half of its home-based family childcare businesses since 2010, totaling an estimated 400 closings according to data provided by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education Care. At the same time, the population of children under five has increased steadily. Early educators in Boston are almost exclusively women and majority people of color. Jobs in care work, while essential to our society and economy, are often low-paying with little to no benefits and insufficient opportunity for upward economic mobility. The combination of care work being low-wage and the closing of many childcare businesses has likely contributed to the high cost of childcare in the state, one of the highest in the nation.
"We are honored to host the launch of Mayor Walsh's Childcare Entrepreneur Fund Pilot, which will support early-childhood education programs like IBA Preschool with critical financing," said Dr. Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, CEO of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA), where the launch event was held. "Early-childhood education programs are vital to helping children develop essential skills that allow them to interpret their world, expand their language and literacy abilities, and form thoughts and express emotions in new ways. We are grateful that the Pilot will make this crucial kind of learning more accessible throughout Boston."
The deadline to apply for the Childcare Entrepreneur Fund is November 15 and preference will be given to minority- and women-owned businesses and businesses in Boston Housing Authority (BHA) units, with a commitment to serving BHA Public Housing and families using childcare vouchers. The City will host a series of informational workshops to help interested applicants with the application process. To learn more about the program, including information session workshop dates and times, visit boston.gov/childcare-fund.
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About the Mayor's Office of Women's Advancement
The Mayor's Office of Women's Advancement creates specific programming and opportunities that support three priority areas: economic equity, safety, and empowerment and representation. Some of the office's most recent work includes: research on paid parental leave and childcare affordability; a multi-pronged approach to closing the gender pay gaps; reducing the demand for commercial sexual exploitation; and creating specific programming for women entrepreneurs. Learn more on their website.
About the Economic Mobility Lab
The Economic Mobility Lab is a team of social entrepreneurs centrally located in the Mayor's Office of Policy. It emerged from the Resilience Strategy, centering its work on racial, gender and economic equity. The Lab researches and test promising ideas that have the potential to dramatically increase upward economic mobility. One of its focus areas, in partnership with the Mayor's Office of Women's Advancement, is childcare. Learn more on their website.
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