Parents and caregivers across Boston continue to face immense challenges to find quality, affordable childcare and this crisis is having a far-reaching impact on our society. Neighborhood disparities continue to exist, but families in all 15 neighborhoods face this challenge – child care in Boston remains unaffordable for the majority of families.
The 2023 report from the Boston Opportunity Agenda and the Birth to Eight Collaborative, '(Re)Building Boston's Early Education and Care Sector: Supply, Affordability and Quality Needed,' indicates that this crisis is far from ending. It examines the current state of early education and care both for pre-K and infant and toddler programs, examining the continued impact of COVID-19 and pandemic recovery investment on child care in Boston, analyzing changes in supply and potential demand at the neighborhood level.
The report finds that while the number of overall seats has stabilized just below pre-pandemic levels, those seats are unevenly distributed across neighborhoods and age groups. Also problematic, as of 2021, Massachusetts had almost 5,000 fewer early educators, on average, than before the pandemic. A shortage of early educators means programs have to close classrooms and cannot offer their full supply of seats. The challenge is particularly acute in infant and toddler classrooms, where in many Boston neighborhoods there is only one early education and care seat available for every 5 children under the age of 2 who might want or need one.
Informed by data, the report presents five policy recommendations to build upon recent investments made by the city and state to address the challenges outlined in this report.