The key to getting workers back into downtown D.C. and revitalizing the economy is through child care, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday.
In a visit to the Stevens Early Learning Center, she detailed plans to strengthen child care options in the city through her budget, and also announced a new addition to her administration.
Bowser announced the appointment of Christina Grant as acting superintendent for education, which the council must confirm.
Grant comes to D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Schools from Philadelphia, where she was the chief of charter schools and innovation.
“As we think about coming out of this historic moment in our history,” Grant said at the news conference with Bowser, “there’s nothing more important than to have a great budget and a great leader to really start to have conversations about bringing our children, our families, our workforce back into school, so we can get on the other side.”
As part of her proposed fiscal 2022 budget, the mayor earmarked more than $180 million to expand access to affordable, quality child care and strengthen early childhood education programming in the city.
“These investments will help us retain child care workers, mitigate losses that we suffered during the pandemic of spots and workers, and to preserve the number of seats available to families. But that wouldn’t be good enough for a transformative budget. We also seek to grow the number of high-quality seats that are available,” Bowser said.
The majority of demand before the pandemic was from D.C. families looking for child care spots for toddlers and infants, according to the city. That’s why more than $18 million in the mayor’s proposed budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year will offer a pilot to pay bonuses to those child care providers who pay wages to infant-toddler credentialed workers.
Bowser said that $25 million in direct financial assistance is being provided to support child care workers and ensure centers remain open. That includes:
- $15.7 million for the DC Child Care Provider Relief Fund grant program to deliver financial relief to nearly all licensed child care facilities;
- $8.8 million for the DC Road to Recovery Fund, which funded grants to all eligible participants (including subsidy and non-subsidy child care providers) in the first round of funding;
- $400,000 in Access to Quality Emergency Grants.