In June, the Children’s Investment Fund (CIF) received some welcome news – the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund had certified CIF as a CDFI. This certification enables us to apply for federal funding to increase low-cost lending capital for early childhood education (ECE) and out-of-school time (OST) facility improvements throughout the Commonwealth. We are hopeful that it will eventually help more non-profit child care providers upgrade or renovate their facilities to create richer learning environments.
The CDFI Fund was established in 1994 to promote economic revitalization and community development in low-income communities through investment in and assistance to intermediaries (CDFIs) that share the same mission. CDFIs have invested where other financial institutions were unwilling and have expanded economic opportunities by providing organizations with access to financial products and services.
CIF, an affiliate of CEDAC with its own board and IRS 501(c)(3) designation, provides financing and technical assistance to community-based non-profit centers that serve low-income communities and seek to create high-quality facilities. In 2017, more than 3,300 children throughout the Commonwealth were served in facilities assisted by CIF. Almost all of these children (93 percent) were from low-income households; 80 percent were children of color, 45 percent were English Language Learners, and 13 percent were children with special needs.
Since its establishment in 1991, CIF has invested $56 million in support of 565 capital projects that improved care and learning environments for 30,500 children. Our comprehensive technical assistance, training, and financing model have strengthened non-profit providers across Massachusetts.
Although Massachusetts has become a national leader in ECE and OST facility development (due in large part to the Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund, which CIF co-administers with CEDAC and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care), there is more work to be accomplished. Many programs that serve low-income children still struggle with facility needs and are hesitant to service conventional debt. Because child care subsidy payments do not fully cover costs, programs must raise additional revenue to fund basic operations and capital needs. The Commonwealth needs other sources of low-cost financing to address the widespread facility challenges that centers face.
We are honored to receive CDFI certification, as it is a step in the right direction towards providing additional capital resources to even more providers and the families they serve.