When the Bough Breaks, Part 6: The Role of Cities in Solving the Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce Crisis

May 6, 2022

In our ongoing exploration of the early education and care ecosystem in Greater Boston, the Early Childhood Coffee & Conversation: When the Bough Breaks series continued May 6th. This month, we welcomed representatives from the neighboring municipalities of Cambridge and Somerville, who highlighted the role of cities in solving the early childhood workforce crisis.

The Boston Foundation’s Education Program Associate Danubia Camargos Silva introduced Kristin McSwain, the recently appointed Director of the City of Boston’s Office of Early Childhood and Senior Advisor to Mayor Michelle Wu, to welcome her to her critical new role, and to open the conversation with leaders from Cambridge and Somerville. Danubia then welcomed leaders from Boston’s neighboring cities of Cambridge and Somerville to the conversation: Lisa Grant, Executive Director at Birth to 3rd Grade Partnership, City of Cambridge, and Kathleen Bailer, Director of Early Childhood Education and Care, Somerville Public Schools.

Dr. Lisa Grant presented information on the Birth to Third Grade Partnership and the work they are doing in workforce development, available in the slide presentation to the right. The mission of the partnership is to connect the Cambridge early childhood ecosystem; align early childhood services and information; and advocate for and advance the needs of all young children, their families, and the early childhood workforce.

Lisa then turned the floor over to fellow panelist, Kathleen Bailer, to present on how Somerville is supporting and growing the childcare workforce, available in the slide presentation to the right. Bailer first acknowledged that May 6th was Childcare Provider Appreciation Day, led by Childcare Aware of America. She noted how extremely impressed she has been “by the resiliency of our childcare providers and their commitment to providing high-quality care despite the challenges they face.” Bailer gave “a shout out to all the childcare providers today – your work is tremendously important.”

Following the two presentations, Danubia convened the panel for an informative Discussion and Audience Question and Answer, but not before noting that what stood out from the earlier presentations was a notion of collective work, that this work cannot be done alone, but requires a team of dedicated individuals with different talents and resources to put it together.

To conclude the conversation, Danubia invited the panelists, the communities we all serve, and the audience to the final session of the When the Bough Breaks series on June 3rd, in celebration of our collective impact and a call to action so we do not lose this momentum: “the time is now to innovate and sustain a new and equitable early childhood and education sector for all!”