I’m a pregnant millennial in my thirties still wishing I lived in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but not for the reasons you’d think.
It’s been twenty years since the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and at thirty-two I’m ecstatic that J.K Rowling's amazing magical world is still alive and well for our kids with the re-release of all Harry Potter movies this Friday on August 31st (time to pull out my Gryffindor scarf!) and the new Fantastic Beasts movie being released this November.
I grew up reading these amazing books and twenty years later I still find myself wishing I lived in the Wizarding World, but now as soon to be mom, it’s less about charms and battling dragons and a lot more about wanting to magically solve problems that come with being a new parent living in a nation that simply doesn’t prioritize families -- starting with figuring out how the heck our family is going to afford quality childcare.
I need an Olivander’s wand so I can obliviate my impending childcare bills that rival college tuition costs and transfigure my sweet cat into a human for an extra pair of helping hands. Is that really too much ask?
And with more than a million millennial women becoming moms each year, I know I’m not the only one wishing someone would work some magic. Data released earlier this year from Child Care Aware shows that the annual cost of infant care takes up more than half of a millennial’s median salary. Over half! We are experiencing a childcare crisis. If households like mine with two good incomes can’t afford to pay childcare, where does this leave most families? Worst yet, childcare workers, many of who are moms themselves, are among the lowest-paid workers in our nation. We may need to recruit Hermione to start a new S.P.E.W. -- Support for Parents and Exhausted Workers!
The reality is that all families want high-quality care and education options for their kids and for educators to get the fair compensation they deserve, but we can’t do it alone. Parents and caregivers are trying their best, but there is only so far we can be stretched.
That’s the bad news. The good news is we don’t need magic to solve this problem.
Our elected leaders in Congress already have the power to make the big solutions we need to solve the childcare crisis in this country by supporting continued investments in child care, including co-sponsoring the Child Care for Working Families Act -- a comprehensive legislative solution (i.e. no magic required!) that would expand access to affordable, high-quality childcare and pre-K for families while improving compensation and training for the childcare workforce.
This isn’t just the right thing to do for families and the workforce, it’s the smart thing to do. Research shows that what we put into care and education programs impacts outcomes for children. To be highly effective, early learning programs need to have the right mix of high-quality ingredients (like low ratios, rich curriculum and coaching for early learning teachers, and engaging environments) to best prepare our children to be ready and successful in school and life while helping prevent opportunity gap before it even starts. Moreover, economists have shown that high-quality early learning programs for children boosts our economy and saves the government as much as 13% for every dollar invested. I mean, who needs magic with solutions like these already within our grasp?!
It’s time for our elected leaders to step up and stand up for families like mine, that way I can focus on the magic of bringing my baby girl into the world instead of wishing for a magic wand to erase my childcare bills.
Wishing for a little childcare magic yourself? Tell us your experiences comments below!