US labor secretary talks child care, infrastructure in Palm Beach County

Marty Walsh visits child care facility in Boynton Beach during visit
U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh speaks in West Palm Beach on July 19, 2021.jpg
Posted at 4:56 PM, Jul 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 17:46:10-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Joe Biden’s labor secretary spent Monday in Palm Beach County, drumming up support for the much-debated infrastructure plan.

U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh came to the Little Cubz Child Care to talk, but also to listen to people like Dr. Teresa McClendon.

"We wanted to relay not only the needs of students, but of our workers and employees," McClendon said.

Child care is one of the main reasons Walsh came to Palm Beach County. It is one of the objectives of the president’s new infrastructure plan.

"This is really about transforming the child care industry," Walsh said.

The former mayor of Boston, Walsh spent about an hour at the child care facility in Boynton Beach, talking about universal pre-kindergarten and investment in community college, things not traditionally associated with infrastructure.

"What the pandemic showed us is we have opportunities to improve our child care system. We have opportunities to improve workforce development system and create pathways to people for good paying jobs," Walsh said.

At the Little Cubz, the center's director has her priority.

"The real vital need are teachers and the money to pay them. I would love to see enough funds allotted for their salaries and for benefits," McClendon said.

The cost of the infrastructure plan, estimated in the trillions, is still hotly debated in Washington and something Walsh knows needs convincing.

"I've had good conversations with Republican members of Congress as well," Walsh said. "Their constituents have children in childcare, their constituents have children in community college, need job training and workforce development and apprenticeships."

The decision will be up to a divided Congress.