Awards of $7,000,000 in ARPA Funding to Grow Early Childhood Workforce
Mayor Michelle Wu today announced the recipients of grants totaling $7,000,000 from Growing the Workforce Fund, designed to address early childhood workforce challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Joined by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, and Representative Katherine Clark, Mayor Wu announced the investment of American Rescue Plan Act Funds at an event at Horizons for Homeless Children. Unlike some sectors which have begun to recover, child care providers in Boston continue to struggle to find staff qualified to fill the vacant positions. As of September, over 50 classrooms in the City of Boston were still closed due to staffing shortages, and centers struggled to fill over 200 positions which would allow them to return to pre-pandemic hours of operations. The grants will support increasing skills of new and current early childhood workforce.
“Investing in early education is an investment in our shared future,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Strengthening the critical infrastructure of care work means building up the workforce and turning longstanding gaps into economic opportunities right in our communities.”
“Child care is critical infrastructure and its quality and affordable child care that makes all other parts of our economy possible,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “I'm going to keep fighting alongside my friends and partners because federal investments like the ones included in the American Rescue Plan will be transformative for families here in Massachusetts and across the country.”
“Child care providers carry the weight of our families and our economy on their shoulders, and they prove their strength every single day,” said Senator Edward J. Markey. “That’s why I’m so proud of the 500 million in federal funding that the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation delivered to providers across the Commonwealth in the American Rescue Plan Act, and why I am thrilled to be here today to celebrate $13 million in additional funding for Boston providers. This is another important step towards showing our child care providers that we value their work, and showing our parents our support for their families.”
“Just like our roads and bridges, child care is a critical piece of our economic infrastructure. When the pandemic brought the child care sector to the brink of collapse, Democrats jumped into action,” said Representative Katherine Clark. "I was proud to lead the call for child care relief funding as part of the American Rescue Plan, and I am thrilled to see these dollars making a real difference at home. Investing in early educators, kids, and families is central to building an economy that leaves no one behind.”
The fund addresses early education and child care staffing shortages in the City of Boston caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by recruiting new educators and upskilling the current workforce. Together, the grantees – Bunker Hill Community College, Urban College, University of Massachusetts Boston and Neighborhood Villages – will support almost 800 degrees or certifications at no cost to the participants. In addition to expanding the workforce, the grants will provide operational stability for Boston’s early childhood industry by requiring program participants to fulfill a two- or three-year work commitment in early childhood education in the City of Boston for their credential.
Building on Mayor Wu's commitment to universal, affordable, high-quality early education and care for all children under five, this grant prepares educators by providing coursework and degrees recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) free of debt. The grant will increase the number of degrees or certifications by 795 as follows: 210 Childhood Development Associates (CDA), 30 CDA renewals, 135 Teacher Lead Certifications, 125 Director's Certifications, 90 Associate Degrees, 130 Bachelor Degrees, and 75 Master's Degrees.
Bunker Hill Community College, Urban College, University of Massachusetts Boston and Neighborhood Villages will also provide wrap-around support to new and existing childhood educators designed to enhance completion rates, including coaching and mentoring. Additionally, they will pay for tuition, books, supplies as well as provide childcare, transportation, and other financial assistance as needed.
“I am so excited that this fund is going to enable 800 childcare providers to earn further educational credentials at key local institutions,” said Councilor Kenzie Bok. “This means a huge infusion of well-trained workers into our local childcare ecosystem, and will help us build better pathways for years to come.”
“Today’s investment is a welcome one for early educators like me. Relieving the burden of debt associated with higher education will help educators continue to focus on the important work of building the foundation for our students’ future success,” said Lisa Brooks, Early Educator at Horizons for Homeless Children.
This announcement builds on Mayor Wu’s commitment to supporting early education and investing in creating accessible and high-quality child care across the city. Just last week, Mayor Wu announced another allocation of APRA funds to support child care centers providing early childhood programming to essential workers working non-traditional hours, support child care workers by providing them immediate compensation relief, and provide training and technical assistance to child care centers. In July, Mayor Wu signed an executive order that strengthened child care zoning regulations, making the requirements more transparent and predictable.