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Mattapan child care center serves parents who work off hours

Kiddies Corner aims to address child care ‘desert’

Alexyss Lopez
Mattapan child care center serves parents who work off hours
Kiddies Corner owner Anne Osula speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for her new Mattapan location. PHOTO: MIKE MEJIA, MAYOR’S OFFICE

Mattapan has long been a childcare desert, where there are many more young children than there are child care centers to serve them.

For union parents who work the overnight shift or the evening hours, finding affordable and reliable child care is especially tough.

Now, Kiddies Corner, a new child care center in Mattapan, hopes to change that narrative.

The center, which opened last month, is run by a union member and designed specifically for parents who are union members who work outside of the standard 9-to- 5 shift. But even more, the center is providing a resource for a neighborhood that needs it.

“As child  care providers we are embedded in our communities. The relationships we build with families will last a lifetime, and now we will be able to touch even more families in Mattapan,” said owner Anne Osula, who is also vice president of the SEIU Local 509 Family Childcare Chapter.

Nationally, nearly one in every three children under age 6 from working families lack access to child care, according to the Eye on Early Childhood Blog, which posts about early childhood practices, policies and research. Massachusetts faces a shortage of over 93,000 child care slots, leaving roughly one in four children in working families without access once programs reach capacity, the blog said.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley presents Anne Osula (at podium) with a bouquet of roses at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Kiddies Corner in Mattapan. PHOTO: MIKE MEJIA, MAYOR’S OFFICE

At the Kiddies Corner grand opening Nov. 20, Osula was joined by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Mayor Michelle Wu and other officials to welcome the new center in the heart of Mattapan.

“Families need the peace of mind that while they’re working [even out of standard hours] that their child is in a safe and nurturing environment, one that is filled with love,” Pressley said.

Pressley and other officials said the center will bring much-needed relief to working parents in Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury facing a child care crisis.

Black and Hispanic children are four times more likely than white children to live in extreme childcare “deserts” according to a recent report by the Care That Works coalition, which addresses the childcare crisis in Massachusetts.

Osula, who opened another child care center in Brockton, also saw a need in Boston when she decided to open Kiddies Corner.  She secured over $100,000 in funding, with significant contributions from Boston Medical Center and the City of Boston, to make her vision a reality.

She was also supported by Care That Works, organized by Community Labor United, which unites community-based organizations and labor unions and organizes paid and unpaid child care providers. 

Kiddies Corner was a “proud” investment, said Dr. Megan Sandel, a pediatrician and principal investigator of the Boston Opportunity System Collaborative, which helps underserved Boston neighborhoods with employment and affordable housing opportunities.

“[Boston Medical Center’s] commitment to ‘wealth is health’ is to help people work jobs for high wages. And we’re thrilled to invest in a Black entrepreneur like Anne Osula,” Sandel said. 

Working as a child care provider has always gone hand in hand with Osula’s mission — social equity both inside and outside of the workplace.

As the vice president of the SEIU Local 509 Family Childcare Chapter, Osula has continuously prioritized raising the living standards of working families.

SEIU Local 509, part of the Greater Boston Labor Council, represents family child care providers and home-care workers that serve subsidized families throughout the state.

“It’s a long road for child care providers to open a center like Kiddies Corner. I had the support of my union to seek out grants and navigate the process,” said Osula in an interview. “That’s also why I’m working with the Care That Works coalition to improve our system, so that child care can be affordable, accessible and sustainable for all providers and families.”

Kiddies Corner offers 19 slots for qualified families. It offers a warm safe place, with colorful chairs and bins and a qualified staff, officials say.

“Access to child care is the foundation for Boston’s workforce and communities,” Wu said in a statement after the grand opening. She noted Care That Works’ focus on accommodating nonstandard hours of work for residents.

“I’m thrilled that Kiddies Corner will provide our Mattapan community with crucial services as the city continues to build on our work to make Boston the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Anne Osula, ayanna pressley, child care, Kiddies Corner, Mayor Michelle Wu, working parents