Last Tuesday afternoon, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Early Education and Care Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy stopped by the East Boston Social Centers (EBSC) in Central Square for a tour, and to announce $7.5 million in Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund (EEOST) capital improvement grants to 36 organizations to renovate childcare facilities that serve primarily low-income families like EBSC.
Polito said the Baker-Polito Administration teamed up with the Children’s Investment Fund (CIF) and its affiliate the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC) for the $227,000 in grant money towards the Social Centers. EBSC and the other thirty-five recipients all received grants between $100,000 to $250,000 to provide capital funding needed to address health and safety concerns related to COVID-19.
“These awards announced today – which mark the largest total amount awarded since the inception of the EEOST grants – will improve child care programs across the state,” said Polito last week at the Social Centers. “Now more than ever, as families return to workplaces, investments in early education and care settings are vital to provide necessary resources to children and their families through high-quality early childhood education and out-of-school time programs.”
The capital grants will help continue to support major renovation and construction projects at EBSC and improve the quality of learning environments for the over 300 children they serve.
The Social Centers previously received an EEOST grant last July and EBSC Executive Director Justin Pasquariello was excited to show Polito how the previous round of funding helped improve the Social Centers’ facilities. He also thanked the Lieutenant Governor for continuing to support EBSC’s capital improvements with the latest round of funding.
“We at the East Boston Social Centers were honored to host Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and EEC Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy for a tour of our early education and school age programs,” said Pasquariello. “We were grateful to show them the high-quality, safe facilities the EEOST grant has funded at the East Boston Social Centers. The Commonwealth’s recognition of the increased cost of providing high-quality, safe care during the COVID pandemic has been essential for our ability to be fully open for early education, school age programs, and full-day in-person remote learning support from July 2020. Their investments in our facilities, commitment to paying parent fees, additional grants, and investments in our workforce are critical as our essential sector continues to meet the needs of children and families across the commonwealth.”
The Early Education and Out of School Time capital improvement grants are financed through the state’s capital budget and provide matching funds that leverage private investment. More than $200 million in public and private investments have been leveraged throughout the life of the grant program. The Baker-Polito Administration’s FY21 Capital Budget Plan included funding for the Early Education and Out of School Time capital improvement grant program.
“Every child deserves the opportunity to learn in high-quality, safe, healthy, and joyous education environments,” said Commissioner Aigner-Treworgy at last week’s event. “Well-designed classrooms and play spaces can greatly enhance early learning and support children to grow and thrive.”
In a statement after the event Gov. Charlie Baker said his administration is committed to supporting childcare providers like the Social Centers who have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to care for children and support families returning to work.
“Since the start of this grant program, we’ve invested more than $39.2 million in capital funding at childcare programs that impact the learning experiences of more than 9,000 children in communities across Massachusetts,” he said.