Thanks to Mayor Martin Walsh for co-authoring this Cognoscenti op-ed with our CEO, Marie St. Fleur – it brings awareness to the work we are doing in Greater Roxbury through the Early Education and Care Small Business Innovation Center (EECSBIC). Featured in the article (and at right) is Melissa Phillips, owner of Little Brown Bear Academy and EECSBIC “graduate”.
In 2014, we conducted an analysis of the early education and care sector in this community. Less than one year later, 40 of the 127 family child care businesses (31%) were no longer licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care, implying either that their licenses lapsed / expired or that they went out of business. Four of the 27 center-based businesses closed their doors in the same time period. This high turnover of early education opportunities is especially problematic in a neighborhood where many families are low-income and depend on care in order to work. Marie St. Fleur notes in the article:
“These are strong, caring women who do a profound service to children and families in the neighborhood. We know many more examples of this commitment are found throughout all of our neighborhoods. Though they are “small” businesses, they have the power to change the lives of thousands of young children in their communities. They ensure that our children are healthy and ready to enter kindergarten and get on the ladder to success.”
With assistance from our partners at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Tech Goes Home, Google, and the City of Boston, we are working to increase the vitality of this crucial business sector as well as the quality of early education available to young children in Greater Roxbury / Dudley. We believe that better-functioning business practices will decrease pressure on center owners, allowing them more availability to nurture the young children in their care.
Listen below for a clip from WBUR on the importance of small business, specifically minority- and women-owned small business, for the community at large.