BOSTON (CBS) – Trying to make day care affordable and available, that’s the goal of a new grant program announced Thursday for the City of Boston. It’s a huge and extremely costly problem for many families. The new pilot program is based on information the city gathered in a first of its kind study.

“Child care is a challenge for families here in Boston. It’s also a challenge for families across the United States of America,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

In fact affordable child care is the biggest challenge for many parents. Massachusetts is the second most expensive state for child care, with an average cost of about $20,000 a year at a day care center, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

“Quality child care is critical to growth and success,” Walsh told a small crowd Thursday morning as he announced a new program to encourage more in-home, family child care, which is often less expensive than a day care center.

“We’re providing grants and business training to help women entrepreneurs to start and grow their own businesses,” Walsh said.

The Childcare Entrepreneur Fund will award grants from $2,000 to $10,000 to start in home child care, and to support those already operating. The program will also provide business training and be focused primarily on women entrepreneurs. That’s important because the city has lost about half of its home-based child care businesses over the last decade, about 400 closings.

“It’s expensive. We know that. We heard that very clearly,” said Jason Ewas from the city’s Economic Mobility Lab.

They heard that from people who responded to the city’s first ever child care survey. Eighty-six percent said they had a problem affording child care. And about a quarter of parents who stay home to care for their kids say they want or need to work, but can’t. So day care costs are a big deterrent for women who want jobs.

Mayor Walsh is hoping this new initiative will change those statistics. “Parents have peace of mind knowing they can afford to send their child to a safe, nurturing place during the day, and our children will get on a path to a strong future,” he said.

The deadline to apply for a grant is Nov. 15th.

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