After failing to move a GOP-led Congress last year to reup federal assistance for childcare centers, US Representative Katherine Clark is turning to the business community for help in making her case.
Clark, who as House minority whip is one of the highest ranking Democrats in Congress, plans to announce a new “Affordable Child Care Agenda” on Friday at the annual meeting of Associated Industries of Massachusetts. Clark’s initiative includes a website in which she is enlisting businesses and residents to sign on as “citizen cosponsors,” calling on Congress to make childcare more affordable and accessible, and to improve wages for childcare workers. AIM agreed to be one of the first such citizens cosponsors, and is presenting Clark with the inaugural AIM Frances Perkins Award in recognition of her work for gender equity and caregiver support for the workforce.
“We know the business community is absolutely critical to reimagining our care system,” Clark said in an interview. “This is a national crisis that certainly hits home in my district and across the commonwealth.”
Clark, working with senators Bernie Sanders and Patty Murray, tried to pass legislation in Washington last year that would have set aside some $16 billion a year for childcare, essentially to keep the industry from falling off a funding cliff as federal subsidies tied to COVID-19 pandemic relief ran out last September. Clark said the effort was rebuffed by Republican lawmakers. Now, classrooms and centers are starting to shut down as the money runs out in states that did not allocate additional funding to make up for the loss of federal subsidies. Massachusetts has continued to use state funds, including money from the so-called millionaires tax that was passed by voters in 2022, to supply what are known as C3 grants for the industry. Clark said her home state is among 11 states that have kept pandemic-era funding alive, but the majority of states have not.
By launching an online petition and advocacy initiative, Clark said she hopes to put public pressure on Congress to act, and release more federal money to sustain a vital sector to the economy.
“We are in the middle of a paradigm shift that really started with the pandemic exposing the fragility of this system and making the connection that this is not a luxury item or something that is nice to have, it is such a critical piece of our ... economic infrastructure,” Clark said. “What we are trying to do here is build that political will and give voice to what is very real support for childcare.”
Clark will be speaking at the first annual meeting in which a woman is the CEO of the statewide business group. The timing is not coincidental. Newly elevated CEO Brooke Thomson wanted to honor Clark’s advocacy with an award named after Frances Perkins, a Massachusetts native who became the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet when she joined Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration as labor secretary; Perkins and Thomson are both Mount Holyoke College alums.
Thomson said the number one challenge for her members is finding enough workers to fill vacant positions, and inadequate childcare is making that harder.
“We were already under capacity, pre-COVID,” said Thomson, a single mom with two kids. “The industry was decimated. It’s still having a hard time coming back. ... It’s having an impact on workers’ ability to show up, it’s having an impact on workers’ ability to come back to the office in person, and it’s having an impact on mental health.”


Original story HERE.