PEABODY ― The YMCA of Metro North welcomed Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House Katherine Clark to its “Families at Work” roundtable Thursday to talk about child care.
Clark joined YMCA of Metro North President and CEO Kathleen Walsh who, along with local business leaders and child-care providers, participated in a virtual discussion of the realities of child care in America.
In the meeting, Clark drew from her ongoing work in Washington to expand federal funding of child care which, coupled with the $40 billion in American Rescue Plan funds, earmarked for that purpose, could present major opportunities for those who want to see changes in the child care system.
“In 2021, Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan that included $40 billion in child-care relief funding, helping providers to stay afloat, parents to get back to work, and businesses to thrive,” Clark said. “As a result, Massachusetts has received $510 million in child-care stabilization funding to date. Next, we must enact the president’s Build Back Better agenda to finally build a system that allows families and our economy to thrive.”
Among the facts shared with business leaders and child-care providers was that 40 percent of child-care centers were forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic and that the country now sees 30 percent of its families unable to find care for their children.
“America has long undervalued and underinvested in child care,” Clark added. “The pandemic forced a national reckoning and we are finally acknowledging what’s long been true: Child care is not a private issue but a public good. It’s essential to the success of kids, families, and our economy.”
More than 6,000 child-care programs in Massachusetts, or 81 percent of all eligible child-care programs in the state, have already submitted applications for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and are already benefiting from it ― including the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs, which secured $10 million in ARPA funds with the help of the state Legislature and the Baker administration.
The Y also currently has 1,300 job openings in child care and early education.
“The YMCA convened this roundtable to bridge gaps in information and experience between child-care providers, businesses, families, and policy makers, so we all understand the challenges each group is facing and we can adopt solutions to advance the critical work of repairing our early education and child-care systems in the Commonwealth,” said Walsh. “We are very grateful to Congresswoman Clark for joining us and for her tireless work on behalf of children and families.”
The next “Families at Work” roundtable hosted by the YMCA of Metro North will consist of a conversation with working families discussing topical issues with business leaders and policy makers.
Learn more at www.ymcametronorth.org.