MAY 3, 2019, Medford, MA- Yesterday, Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus Congresswoman Katherine Clark hosted Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a tour and community conversation on the important role of child care in our economy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. The Speaker and Vice Chair were also joined by Congresswomen Lori Trahan and Ayanna Pressley as well as stakeholders from across the early education community to discuss policies aimed at increasing child care accessibility and affordability and supporting early educators.
“I remember when my husband and I realized that my entire salary was going to child care. This hurts our families and our economy,” said Congresswoman Clark.
“The three most important issues facing Congress? Our children, our children, our children,” said Speaker Pelosi. “Tufts University is leading the way in closing the early learning and child care gap with the work of the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study & Human Development.”
Today, the majority of women with young children are working, two-thirds (65.1 percent) of which are women with children under age six. However, the cost of child care is now equal to the cost of a monthly rent or mortgage, making it a significant finance burden for too many families and out of reach for others. According to the Economic Policy Institute, child care is considered affordable if it costs no more than 7% of a family's income. By this measure, child care is affordable for less than 1 in every 5 Massachusetts families as the Commonwealth ranks second in the nation for the most expensive child care.
Bolstered by the largest number of Congresswomen in our nation’s history, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats are acutely focused on the issues facing working families, recognizing that quality, affordable child care is as important to the economy as roads and bridges.
Clark noted that progress is being made under the House Democrats leadership.
“Since coming to Congress, I have led the effort to expand Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) because child care is as central to the economy’s success as investments in our roads and bridges. This year, with the support of over half of the Democratic Caucus, the Appropriations Committee is proposing an almost $4 billion increase to both programs, taking thousands of kids off waitlists and putting them into classrooms.”
At the forum, early education students and current providers spoke about the low pay of child care workers who are majority women and paid the minimum wage. SEIU 509 member and family child care provider Celina Reyes spoke about her personal experience struggling to support her own family while only making $12 an hour. Sharon Scott-Chandler, Executive Vice President for the Action for Boston Community Development, asked the Congresswomen about expanding Head Start, a federal funding child care program, and the last question of the came from Tom Clay, CEO of Xtalic, who spoke about the interconnectedness of retaining a diverse workforce and access to family supports such as paid family leave, equal pay for equal work, and child care.
Prior to the public forum, Speaker Pelosi and Congresswomen Clark and Trahan participated in a private tour of the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School at Tufts University where they heard about the school’s innovative approach as a leader in early childhood education research and practice.
The event was the first of a newly launch series entitled, “Speaker in the House”. Speaker Pelosi’s ‘Speaker in the House’ series seeks to engage communities across the country and ensure the voices of the American people are being heard in the halls of Congress. In their first 100 Days in the Majority, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have taken significant steps to advance their For The People agenda, passing legislation to clean up corruption in politics, guarantee equal pay for equal work, and combat gun violence.
Photo attached from the tour and forum. Pictures also available here.