Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Thursday said the city would boost support for home-based family child care businesses in a bid to help families afford the cost of raising children in the city.
He said the Childcare Entrepreneur Fund program would provide funding, coaching and technical assistance to support early educators to "sharpening their entrepreneurial skills."
"I am proud to support these entrepreneurs and small business owners who are providing a crucial service in our neighborhoods," Walsh said.
"In addition to elevating the value of care workers, providing families with accessible, affordable childcare options is essential to keeping parents, especially women, in the workforce."
Businesses can apply for three types of grants until November 15: start-up grants; flexible grants for existing child care entrepreneurs; and co-op grants for groups of entrepreneurs.
The announcement came as the city said new data showed the cost of childcare is a major concern to families in Boston.
In a survey on child care included in the census earlier this year, 88% of survey-takers said affording child care was a challenge.
Massachusetts is the second-most expensive state for childcare in the country, with the average yearly cost at $20,913, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The report said families are forced to "make difficult choices or put together unstable child care arrangements that make it difficult to fulfill work or family obligations."
A third of parents and guardians who said they stay home to take care of their children reported they needed or wanted to work. A staggering 91% of those parents were women, the report found.
Families who participated in the survey said child care challenges were mostly associated with children who were two years old an younger.
The city announced earlier this year it had added the optional survey in the census so lawmakers could study the need for affordable childcare.