Child Care Workers and Parents Unite to Demand Livable Wages and Affordable Care

Shineal Hunter is proud of her role as a Philadelphia child care provider. Her daycare center helps parents raise their children while they are at work. Hunter is also proud that her daughters want to follow in her footsteps and care for children — but she does not want them send them into an “industry of poverty” where workers do not receive a livable wage.

“Why should I not be paid the same rate as someone in the school district?” Hunter said in a statement on Monday. “I want to uplift as many Black and brown women and children that I can, but I’m constantly struggling with keeping my doors open with all the bureaucracy that I have to contend with just to make a living.”

Hundreds of child care workers held a “strike” on Monday with support from the children and families they work with. Some shut down their daycare centers for a short time, while others called in sick. They gathered at the halls power in dozens cities to demand that policymakers at every level of government make large public investments in child care to ensure that providers receive a living wages and that parents have the financial means to send their children to a safe environment.

“I want my daughters to know that on May 9, I stood with other child care providers and other parents who wanted to utilize the voice that we have to let elected officials know that we’re no longer going to tolerate disrespect,” Hunter said. “I am here, ready to do the work, and I’m not going to stop.”

As the nation reels from the shocking revelation that the Supreme Court could soon abolish the right of abortion, it is time for the national day to act. Advocates everywhereThese people point out that 24 states would immediately prohibit abortion access if they could. Roe v. Wade It was overturned. Republicans could allow 13 states criminal penalties for people who have abortions or care for someone who has. Yet even as they condemn abortion care — which, advocates emphasize, should be recognized as a basic human right — conservative abortion opponents remain unwilling to invest in child care, health care and other supports that families need to thrive.

“Women of color who have poor access to reproductive justice are also the same women who have poor access to child care in their communities,” said Wendoly Marte, economic director at the national social justice organization Community Change Action, who is organizing with the striking child care workers, in an interview. “Our economy runs on child care.”

Yet Republicans and a handful of conservative Democrats in Congress have blockaded President Biden’s social legislation once known as Build Back Better, which would pump federal money into daycares, preschools and early childhood education programs to raise wages for providers and make child care more affordable for families.

Biden’s plan would also expand paid sick and family leave in a country where 77 percent of private-sector workers have no paid parental leave, and six in ten workers do not have paid medical leave through their employer insurance, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Child care providers and the families they work with rally for robust investments in early education on May 9, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Without higher wages, the demand for child care will always outpace the workforce, where 94 percent of workers are women and 40 percent are women of color.

The crisis is severe for both parents and providers, groups that very often overlap, advocates say. Nearly half a million families are looking for affordable child care and cannot find it, according to Community Change Action. Meanwhile, child care providers are often overworked and underpaid, especially in middle and lower-income communities where the cost of child care can consume a significant chunk of a parent’s paycheck. Without higher wages, the demand for child care will always outpace the workforce, where 94 percent40% of workers are women, and 40% are women of color.

According to Jessica Milli (economist and author of a book), the number of children care workers has steadily declined since 2017. This trend is exacerbated in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. new studyOn the child care workforce. In the same period, 60 percent of child care facilities that take children from families with lower incomes have also declined in number.

“There is an urgent need for public investment in the child care sector in order to support living wages that can help attract and retain qualified educators and to also ensure that families have access to affordable and reliable child care,” Milli said in a statement.

Supporters of child care workers are also targeting large employers that don’t offer paid family leave or wages high enough for child care. In Chicago protesters gathered outside Amazon’s corporate office on Monday. According to Community Change Action data, Amazon is among the top three recipients for Illinois child care assistance funding. This funding helps employees provide a place for their children while at work. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that Amazon and other large corporations are responsible for a combined state-local tax shortfall of between $43 billion to $57 billion. reports. That’s enough money to pay for high quality, universal pre-kindergarten programs for children ages 3 and 4 nationwide, advocates say.

Child care providers and the families they work with rally for robust investments in early education on May 9, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Child care providers are often overworked and underpaid, especially in middle and lower-income communities where the cost of child care can consume a significant chunk of a parent’s paycheck.

“Child care infrastructure is just one piece; we need to keep a stable job make sure the kids have food on the table, to pay for rent,” Marte said. “We know that when women thrive, the whole family thrives, and when the whole family thrives, the whole society thrives.”

Marte said that a broad investment of child care with strong equity and racial justice guardrails to ensure it is not misused would easily make the money go back by improving family well-being and lifting families out poverty. Hunter agrees, pointing out that economic justice must be a multi-pronged approach to supporting children and families.

“People can’t go to work if they have nowhere to take their children,” Hunter said. “We need an equitable system that is supporting both parents, providers and the economy.”