Mayor Walsh, the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement, and the Economic Mobility Lab announced on Oct. 17 the launch of the Childcare Entrepreneur Fund pilot program, which will provide grants and training to assist women entrepreneurs in starting their own businesses.
The announcement was made at Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA), with the attendance of some of IBA’s preschool students.
Also announced were the results of the City’s first annual childcare survey, “Making Childcare Work.” According to Jason Ewas, Director of the Economic Mobility Lab, the results of the survey were based on responses from thousands of Boston residents about challenges surrounding their childcare arrangements.
Ewas said key findings include that 86 percent of respondents listed “not affordable” as a challenge when it comes to childcare. “On the workforce side, we learned that almost a third of parents who stay home to care for their children said they need or want to work,” he said. “Those parents were unsurprisingly disproportionately women—91 percent who reported on that question said their gender was female.”
Additionally, he said that families reported more childcare challenges for children ages zero to two than for children ages three to five. “It’s providers, it’s families, it’s children, it’s a huge issue that we need to tackle and we’re starting today,” Ewas said. “These results give us a broader scope of the needs and concerns of families and how they will access childcare,” Walsh said. “This survey is going to be our roadmap to help us continue to address the childcare challenges here in the City of Boston.”
Vanessa Calderon-Rosado, Executive Director of IBA, said that the organization is “very grateful and proud” to work with Mayor Walsh and the city organizations involved in making this pilot a reality.
“Here surrounded by [the preschoolers]…we are reminded of the importance and the great need of providing our youngest in our community with critical skillsets that enable them to thrive emotionally, socially, expand intellectually, and experience curiosity, creativity, and compassion, so they can become members of tomorrow,” she said.
Mayor Walsh said that launching this pilot is the next step in supporting the future of childcare in the city. He said that the average cost of care for one infant can be 75 percent of a minimum wage earner’s salary.
“Quality childcare is critical to the growth and success [of children],” Mayor Walsh said. The overwhelming majority of childcare workers are women—90 percent—but their jobs offer them little to no benefits and low salaries. Additionally, according to a press release from the city, since 2010, the city has lost over half off its home-based childcare businesses. “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,” the release states.
“We want to break down the barriers that stand in the way of starting and maintaining childcare businesses in our city,” Mayor Walsh said. Businesses will be able to apply for three different types of grants until Nov. 15, raging from $2,000 to $10,000; startup grants for new businesses, flexible grants for existing childcare entrepreneurs, and co-op grants for groups of entrepreneurs to look into shared services.
These grants will also cover the cost of toys and art supplies, advertising, and other financial help, Mayor Walsh said. “We’re also hosting small business workshops to help our women entrepreneurs further develop their business skills,” he said.
Preference for the Childcare Entrepreneur Fund will be given to minority and women-owned businesses and businesses in Boston Housing Authority units. For more information and to apply, visit boston.gov/childcare-fund.
“Investing in childcare benefits both parents and children,” Mayor Walsh said. “Parents have peace of mind knowing they can afford to send their child to a safe, nurturing place during the day, and our children will get on a path to a strong future.”