Lawmakers Must Fix Our Child Care System, Which Is Failing Families Like Mine
A week ago, MomsRising super dad Nicholas Knight shared his family's child care story at the U.S. Treasury - giving voice to what so many families across our nation have experienced. Read his remarks below and tell us your experiences with child care as we fight to ensure child care and pre-k for all becomes a reality.
Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris joined Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin when the U.S. Treasury Department released a new report showing that our country’s child care system is failing millions of families. The report concludes that the country’s child care sector is plagued by low revenues, thin profit margins, low numbers of providers relative to the number of young children, and low pay for workers. That is something my family knows from personal experience. I was proud to introduce the Vice President and discuss my family’s struggle to find quality, affordable child care at that event:
I am a proud dad to three amazing kids, ages four, six, and ten. I am also the very proud husband of 23 years to an amazing, hardworking and beautiful woman, Daniella, who is a proud member of MomsRising. It is because of our struggles to properly care for our three children without access to quality and affordable child care, and the immense sacrifices that she has had to make as a working mother that I am here today.
When our oldest daughter was born, my wife gave up her job to care for her as we quickly realized that full-time child care was beyond our reach. Both daycare centers and in-home daycares would have cost more than her salary. In an effort to earn a living while caring for our daughter, my wife even worked at an in-home daycare for a while but was saddened that the program didn’t provide all the early learning opportunities we hoped children can have.
I worked as a government contractor providing legal technology services, but we barely hung on financially as my wife cared for and nursed our daughter while completing her degree. So, I worked as a soccer referee on evenings and weekends to supplement our income. Our daughter grew and flourished and my wife found a job that she could do from home, but even then, all we were able to afford was part-time preschool. Spots were very hard to come by, and we needed to apply for tuition assistance, which made it even more complicated. Since our daughter was only in school for a couple of hours a day, my wife ended up having to complete a majority of her work after our daughter went to sleep at night. It was exhausting.
She continued to work part-time throughout our two subsequent pregnancies, having only a couple of weeks of maternity leave to recover from childbirth and get our newborns off to a good start. Shortly before our youngest son was born my work arrangements changed and I was able to do my job from home. I worked early mornings and evenings and was able to become a more involved caregiver to my three children for the last four years. I saw first-hand the incredible work and sacrifice that my wife put in every single day, and the hidden labor, sadly unpaid, that she and so many women and mothers have done for so long.
We went through the same child care struggle with our second child securing a preschool spot and obtaining financial aid. We were also thankful that our eldest was starting kindergarten, as we knew we would not have been able to afford preschool tuition for two children at once.
As our youngest grew I supported my wife going back to an office setting, and while I cared for the children for the better part of the day, she breathed new life into a sleepy little property management business. She also earned her real estate license and worked a third job to help us save up to buy a home. It was incredibly tiring, but it felt like we were moving forward financially. Unfortunately, this was short lived and with the pandemic she, like so many women, sacrificed again letting go of her work in order to be there to support our children’s well-being during such a difficult time.
The Biden Administration with the diligent input from Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary Janet Yellen are pushing Congress to act to ensure that early childhood education can be accessible to all families. Child care was never an option for us due to the dual issues of high cost and the inability to ensure the ones we could afford were of high quality and safe. We knew the importance of early childhood education and preschool and did all we could to ensure our children were able to receive it.
The President and Vice President want all Americans to know that they can have affordable and high-quality child care and that all children will have the same opportunity to learn in a safe and stable environment. In fact, Vice President Harris has consistently worked throughout her career as a District Attorney, Attorney General and Senator for working class families, pushing child care to be accessible and affordable for all families.I hope Congress will make that happen this year.
Written by: Nicholas Knight
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of MomsRising.org.
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