Cracking the Code: How Boston is trying to Address Childcare by Zoning

By Bailey Hu, Molly Kaviar, Ginger Leib, Peiyao Wang

The report examines how Boston’s zoning code supports child care provision across the city, especially in terms of accessibility and affordability. We are proud to have worked with Community Labor United and Tufts’ Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning department to develop this report.

CLU’s Care That Works coalition encountered a unique zoning ordinance that literally builds child care into Boston’s development process. First passed in the Midtown Cultural District in 1989, the “Inclusion of Day Care Facilities” (IDF) regulation is currently active in 15 zoning districts (development areas) clustered in the downtown area. The text of the ordinance–with some minor variations– states that buildings which create above a certain threshold of new floor space must a) set aside a portion for a child care facility or b) build such facilities off-site. 

To further the coalition’s investigation of IDF, we drew on a variety of methods and sources. First, we conducted initial online research on the child care landscape in Boston, uncovering major gaps in accessibility and affordability for families. These gaps disproportionately impact single parents, low- income families, and people of color. 

Read the full report here.

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