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Boston Mayoral Candidate Michelle Wu Releases Bold Plan to Close the Early Education and Childcare Gap

Released on: March 02, 2021

Boston, MA — Michelle Wu today released a bold plan to close Boston’s childcare gap, sharing a detailed proposal to create truly Universal Pre-K and high-quality, affordable care for children ages 0-3. Right now, Boston is in a childcare crisis, with 80% of Boston families paying more than 10% of their income on childcare. Massachusetts is the second-most expensive state in the country for childcare, leading to long waiting lists for affordable programs. Michelle Wu’s plan recognizes the extent of the crisis and mobilizes a whole city approach to invest in the next generation, close the racial and economic childcare gap, and build a family-friendly Boston for all. Read the full plan HERE.

“For families with children, the pandemic has made an already unbearable juggle impossible,” said Michelle Wu. “We must recognize early education and care as critical infrastructure for our youngest learners, their families, and our economy--especially through Boston’s recovery. Boston has made some strides in expanding Pre-K seats through dedicated staff and community partnerships, but it’s time to simplify our patchwork system and guarantee access for all families. As a policymaker and a mom, I know the difference that city leadership will make for our families--from easing stress on working parents, to giving our youngest learners the best foundation for life, to investing in our early education and childcare workforce to create sustainable career pathways for our residents. Now is the moment for bold, urgent leadership to value early education and care as a public good.” 

Key components include:

  • Create a one-stop shop for enrollment, outreach, and information housed in a new City Office of Early Education and Care to remove barriers for families and coordinate state, federal, and local resources.

  • Invest in the early education and care workforce to develop sustainable career pathways by leveraging the infrastructure of Boston Public Schools for professional development and aligning salary and training across programs at BPS, center-based, and family-based sites; and exploring the creation of an early education and care pathway at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School. 

  • Expand geographic access and on-site childcare at workplaces--especially as companies may not be returning to full office occupancy due to continued remote work--by mobilizing municipal facilities to create spaces for early education and care programs; facilitating the creation of childcare programs in office buildings as Boston’s commercial real estate market undergoes a realignment with ongoing remote work at many companies; and enforcing existing zoning requirements for onsite childcare at new commercial developments.

  • Harness the full power of city government across all departments to advocate for early education and care as a public good, and ensure resources and programming to make Boston the most family-friendly city in the country.

"With women leaving the workforce in large numbers, the pandemic has made clear that we can no longer ignore a sector that was in crisis since before COVID-19. Working families and childcare workers need urgent support. When children receive a quality early education, we all benefit. Michelle Wu's plan recognizes that early education is a smart investment and will ensure the City of Boston provides crucial support for families and educators,” said Tania Del Rio, East Boston parent and former Executive Director of the Mayor's Office of Women's Advancement.

“Llevo nueve años como propietaria del programa de educación temprana familiar en mi hogar en Dorchester, y sé la importancia de invertir en el bienestar y el aprendizaje de los niños desde la infancia para prepararlos para el kinder. Este plan cambiaría el panorama para proveedores de educación temprana por permitirnos acceder al desarrollo profesional a lo largo plazo e invertir en el currículo y materiales estimulantes, y por darnos el apoyo que necesitamos para crear un entorno enriquecedor para todos los niños,” Carmen Hidalgo de Rosa, Proprietaria de Rosa's Family Day Care en Dorchester. 

 (TRANSLATED: I have been the owner of a family-based early education program for 9 years in my home in Dorchester, and I understand the importance of investing in children's well-being and learning from infancy to prepare them for kindergarten. This plan would change the landscape for early childhood providers by allowing us to access long-term professional development opportunities and invest in stimulating curricula and materials, and by giving us the support we need to create an enriching environment for all children,” said Carmen Hidalgo de Rosa, Owner of Rosa's Family Day Care in Dorchester.)

"While accessing and affording early education and care has always been a serious concern for families, COVID-19 has made it clear that women bear the burden when care is unavailable. Getting parents back to work and paying providers what they deserve are crucial steps to close gender and racial wage gaps, which have only been exacerbated by this pandemic,” said MaryRose Mazzola, Former Executive Director of the Boston Women's Workforce Council and Current Senior Advisor to the Michelle Wu for Mayor Campaign.

“Sadly the home daycare business is an overlooked, unrecognized essential business. Michelle Wu understands as a working mother how vital great child care is. We need to keep young families in Boston. We need a plan for all early education that offers resources to families and development opportunities to providers. We need to grow the childcare industry. It’s essential to Boston’s recovery and growth. Michelle understands the needs of providers and families,” said Siobhan McHugh, Daycare Provider in Brighton.

As a working mom, Councilor Michelle Wu is intimately familiar with the challenges and gaps that families with young children in Boston face. In 2014, she became the first sitting Boston City Councilor to become pregnant and give birth--to her older son Blaise--who is now 6 years-old and a K2 student at the Sumner School. In 2017, she became the first City Council President to have a baby, when she and her family welcomed Cass (now 3 years-old, waiting in BPS K1 lottery) to the world. She has written about the juggle of being a working mom for CNN and navigating multimodal transportation as a mom, and was the lead author of Boston’s Paid Parental Leave ordinance, which was signed into law in 2015 and was later highlighted by President Barack Obama in a Labor Day speech. As City Council President, she convened her colleagues to lead the charge in removing barriers to childcare access.

Councilor Wu’s childcare plan follows bold, urgent plans for a Boston Green New Deal and Just Recovery Plan, Food Justice Agenda, Digital Equity Agenda and more.