Boston’s four female city councilors joined forces to focus on early education and childcare, meeting members of the press on Feb. 10 at City Hall. The “Fab Four” of Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi-George, Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu talked about monthly “Let’s Chat about Childcare” discussions, with each councilor working on different aspects of childcare as part of the council’s Committee on Healthy Women, Families and Communities.
Campbell of District 4 will study Boston’s geography for access to childcare. At-large councilor Essaibi-George will focus on child care for homeless families and the transition from daycare to school. At-large councilor Pressley will look at community-based childcare providers and childcare options for parents on nontraditional work schedules. At-large councilor and Council President Wu will discuss childcare funding and providing on-site childcare at workplaces. The monthly discussions will be at City Hall and in Boston’s neighborhoods, with free childcare.
“Childcare is an issue for every family, not just struggling women,” Campbell said. “Single fathers exist, including homeless dads.”
Massachusetts has the second-highest cost of childcare in the country, with Suffolk County having the least affordable center-based infant care, according to Child Care Aware of America. An estimated $238.9 billion in wages is lost annually by working families who do not have access to affordable childcare and paid family and medical leave.
Wu is focused on childcare cost barriers for families. “I want on-site childcare for every workplace,” she said. “I have my two-year-old down there [at City Hall], which makes all the difference in world if he gets sick suddenly and makes going back to work much more possible.”
Essaibi-George said, “I want to make sure we’re a city where families stay. Before, we would cater to young people or older empty-nesters. … We hope to create an atmosphere that kids are welcome here.”
Pressley said, “I’ve heard how excited people are for us four to do something together. We have policy collaborations and in many ways work together, but doing something intentionally with the four of us feels good.”
The Elections Department presented at the Feb. 8 City Council meeting on Boston’s 255 precincts, which represent its eight wards. Chinatown has the city’s largest precinct, with 6,000 voters in Ward 3, Precinct 8. In comparison, Boston’s smallest precinct of Ward 8, Precinct 6 near South Bay has less than 500 voters. Boston plans to divide the six largest precincts into smaller ones in time for the September preliminary elections. Most of the six precincts are downtown in Councilor Bill Linehan’s District 2:
- Ward 3, Precinct 6: Downtown
- Ward 3, Precinct 7: South End
- Ward 3, Precinct 8: Chinatown
- Ward 5, Precinct 1: Bay Village, Chinatown
- Ward 6, Precinct 1: Seaport, Fort Point, South Boston
- Ward 9, Precinct 3: South End
The council also reinstated the Special Committee on Civil Rights, headed by Councilor Josh Zakim, at the Feb. 8 meeting.
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