This week President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill but Washington Democrats say it did not go far enough.
Ahead of Biden signing the bill, Democrats like US Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Sen. Elizabeth Warren toured the East Boston Social Centers (EBSC) Jeffries Point daycare site and called for bold investments to address both the human and physical infrastructure needs of our country.
“We have been clear from the onset that any vote on the narrow roads and bridges bill must happen in tandem with a vote on the Build Back Better Act that invests in our childcare economy, housing, paid leave, combating climate change, and more,” said Pressley.
The so-called Build Back Better Act would invest substantially in childcare and early education as building blocks for health and success, especially for low-income children and families.
With the Build Back Better stalled in the Senate, Pressley voted ‘no’ on the infrastructure bill.
“We had an agreement that these two bills would move together—not that we would vote for one in exchange for a potential vote on the other if certain conditions were met,” she said. “Unfortunately, that agreement was not honored. As such, I voted no on the narrow roads and bridges bill.”
During their visit to the Social Centers, Pressley and Warren were joined by Rep. Adrian Madaro, and Councilors Lydia Edwards, Julia Mejia, and Michael Flaherty, and guests Strategies for Children and Neighborhood Villages.
“Just like roads and bridges, child care is critical infrastructure,” said Warren after her Eastie visit.
Rep. Madaro added, “I had the opportunity to join our federal partners Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren for a tour of the East Boston Social Centers and a roundtable discussion on the importance of early education and care. Early education and childcare are indispensable to a healthy economy. They are also economic and racial justice issues. We’re ready to keep fighting to make sure every child in every family has access to high-quality programs.”
With Massachusetts having some of the highest childcare costs in the nation Madaro said he worked with Rep. Ken Gordon, Sen. Jason Lewis, Sen. Susan Moran and the Common Start Coalition to file legislation to deliver universal early education and childcare to all families in Massachusetts.
“Our bill would significantly increase public investment in these critical resources to make them more affordable and accessible to all. It would also increase pay and benefits for educators to ensure they are able to enter and remain in the profession they chose,” he said. “I’m proud to work with leaders like Sen. Warren and Congresswoman Pressley who are fighting to make this a reality for our country at the federal level. I’m also proud to have a shining example of excellent early education and childcare for families in the East Boston Social Centers. We appreciate all you do.”
Executive Director for Strategies for Children Amy O’Leary added, “Massachusetts is ready for historic federal investments. These new funds need to reach the field as soon as possible so we can build a stronger, more sustainable, more equitable early childhood system for all.”
EBSC Executive Director Justin Pasquariello thanked the legislators for their leadership and advocacy that he said reinforced the critical importance of increasing access to and affordability of early education and care while investing in teacher wages, high quality buildings, and teacher education and development.
“It was a very special day,” said Pasquariello. “Other Social Centers staff took part in the visit and joined for an insightful roundtable conversation on the need for and impacts of quality early education and care, including Senator Warren for her leadership and her commitment to shining a light on how the groundbreaking Build Back Better bill makes a transformative investment in early education and care, to support both programs and families. We were thrilled to have had the opportunity to speak with Senator Warren and with state and municipal representatives, local advocates, program leaders, and teachers about the critical role that child care plays – and the urgency of solving the early educator wage crisis.”
Pasquariello added that when the Build Back Better bill does pass, “We all need to work together, at all our different levels, to successfully put the dollars into action and build a childcare system that works for educators, families and children.”