For the first time, the City of Boston is sending out anonymous surveys to try and document the need for affordable child care. Local advocates believe it is as much of an issue as the housing crisis, and they want to see what can be done to fix it.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, Massachusetts ranked second behind Washington, D.C., for most expensive child care in the country. The average cost for infant care in Massachusetts is $17,062 a year or $1,422 a month.
"It's almost like a second mortgage," said Tania Del Rio, the executive director at the city's Office of Women's Advancement.
Del Rio is a mom herself and said the rising cost is starting to a toll, especially on women.
"It's one of the reasons women are pulling out of the workforce," Del Rio said. "We have about 4,000 women who, if they had access to affordable child care, would be working."
Del Rio is part of the team putting together the anonymous surveys that will go out to nearly 400,000 residents in Boston as part of the census next month. It asks parents questions that include whether or not they think child care is too expensive or difficult to find.
Del Rio said the city will use data to propose policy changes at the local level. She said hearing a presidential candidate like Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren talk about the issue at the federal level helps bring attention to the crisis.
Tuesday, Warren introduced a universal childcare proposal that would involve taxing the ultra-rich to pay for the plan.
Mary Grace Casey, co-director at the Shattuck Child Care Center in Jamaica Plain, said politics aside, something has to be done.
"The money needs to come from somewhere," Casey said. "And I think it's come on the backs of early childhood professionals and working parents for a very long time. It would be great if it came from another source like the federal or state government. It can't continue to spiral upwards."