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In Visit To Childcare Center, Sen. Markey Calls For More Federal Support

U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) reads a book to children at the Greater Springfield YMCA Childcare Center.
Paul Tuthill

  Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey highlighted federal support for child care during a visit today to the largest child care provider in the Springfield area. 

   The YMCA of Greater Springfield Childcare Center would not be open today if not for the almost $4 million the organization received over the last 12 months from various federal relief programs, Senator Markey was told during a tour of the center in downtown Springfield.

    He said it underscored the need for “a vastly expanded childcare program in our country.”

    "I would like to see at least $50 billion in a program we put in place and I am going to make sure there is funding for child care in our country," Markey said.

    The Democratic senator said the expansion of the Child Tax Credit that was part of the American Rescue Plan needs to be extended.

     "The Child Tax Credit has to be made permanent so that we are giving mothers and fathers the help they need to take care of their children and simultaneously go to work." Markey said.

    The expanded Child Tax Credit is $3,600 per child for children up to 5 years old and $3,000 for children ages 6-17.

    Beginning July 15th qualifying families can receive advance monthly payments rather than wait until tax filing season to claim the full credit.

    The office of Democratic U.S. Rep.  Richard Neal of Springfield estimates that 44,000 households in the First Congressional District of Massachusetts will qualify for the improved tax credit.

    The YMCA’s childcare center remained open last year as an emergency childcare site for the families of first responders and other essential workers, said president and CEO Dexter Johnson.

    "So we were closed to the general public for about four months, but we were fortunate to be able to serve that specific community during that time," Johnson said.

    Since reopening to the public, enrollment has not returned to the pre-pandemic levels of about 1,000 children.

  "There is plenty of opportunity for enrollment right now and we expect that when school reopens more normally this fall that the afer-school numbers will ramp up and as people get back to work there will be more need for child care," Johnson said.

   State Rep. Carlos Gonzalez of Springfield, who joined Markey for the visit at the Y, said another potential source of funds to help defray the cost of child care is the more than $5 billion Massachusetts received from the American Rescue Plan Act.

  "Child care is a necessity for this economy to strive and to rejuvinate itself and if we are going to make America back we'll need to provide some sort of universal child care," Gonzalez said.

   State lawmakers are planning to hold a series of public hearings after the Fourth of July recess on how to spend the federal money.

    The Democratic legislature rejected Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s initial efforts to direct about half the money to housing production, downtown development and job training.



The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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