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This past June, the Center for American Progress published a column on the benefits of child care investments for K-12 educators. The need to invest in child care on a federal level cannot be understated. Families around the country have been showing to Congress for years that our child care system is broken, and the pandemic only made things worse. Currently, nearly half a million families are estimated to be stranded without reliable child care, exacerbating the nation's ongoing worker shortage as parents continue to stay home. Already, pre-pandemic, more than 1/2 of families already lived in child care deserts without safe, nurturing, affordable options.

In addition to this,  though it seemed like the labor market made positive gains this past January, it turns out that 27 times more men than women joined the labor force during this time. That means women and moms are still being hit much harder and have yet to recover the economic and labor gains they had over the last 2-3 decades. 

These disheartening statistics also highlight the disproportionate impact a lack of child care support has had on our nation's educators. K-12 Teacher salaries have been largely stagnant for more than 20 years, while child care costs have increased dramatically, hitting our educators hard as child care has become increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible. Women, who have bore the brunt of job loss in our economy, often due to a lack of child care support, often shoulder the brunt of caregiving duties, and represent just more than three-quarters of all teachers! Not only that, but the already modest pay of teachers discourages folks from entering or staying in the profession and is an especially significant barrier for the recruitment and retention of teachers of color, who are more likely to take on greater student loan debt than white teachers in the first place.

In a study of teachers who left the profession due to the pandemic, child care responsibilities were ranked as one of the top reasons for leaving, and even before the pandemic struck, 37 percent of teachers left their jobs for personal reasons, including child care and other family or health reasons.

Families and our teachers need support. As many of us grappled with online learning with our kids during the pandemic, many teachers had to handle their own children while teaching class and delivering and developing curriculum to keep educating our children during an unprecedented time. Teachers, kids and parents don’t need lip service, they need supportive policies to ensure they and our nation thrive! We need crucial federal investments to lower the cost of child care to ensure that educators can afford to stay in their profession, and so that their students and our nation’s children can be best prepared to succeed in their classrooms and beyond.

It’s time to address this, we need child care NOW!

Below are some stories highlighting the stories of educators and the urgent need for Congress to include Child care and pre-K as part of any reconciliation package! Are you an educator who left the field because of child care or are struggling to afford or otherwise access child care now? Tell us about it here or in the comments below: 

I'm a teacher, as is my husband. I will be 9 months pregnant if/when we start back to school as planned. Our daughter will be roughly 3 months old when I have to return to school. If I can return to pediatrician I have spoken to recommends her going to daycare until she's at least a year old. But we can't afford a private sitter...and could I trust them? But can we make ends meet on just one teacher's salary? No. Of course, we're both also worried about bringing COVID-19 home to our new baby. Even when a teacher has to be out normally getting a sub is hard. And most of them fall into the high-risk age range anyway...I wouldn't be subbing if I were them. Quite often we teachers end up subbing for each other during our prep this supposed to continue? Seems like no one has thoroughly thought this through...and there are plenty of people who consider COVID-19 a democratic hoax made to impede Trump's reelection. And even among those who realize this is a real disease, there are plenty who think it's been played up to be worse than it actually is. This is terrifying.
          -Anonymous, NM

“My husband (a public school teacher) uses our car in the morning, so I take the bus there to drop off my son and then I walk back. It takes about an hour-and-a-half total. Each and every day. 
That’s a huge logistical challenge. My employer wants me to work in-person two days a week, but for now I’m continuing to work remotely because I can’t both commute and drop off my son at child care. 
The cost of child care is also a huge burden for us. Right now, we pay more than $2,000/month. That’s a huge portion of our paychecks, which makes it harder for us to cover the cost of diapers, formula and everything else our son needs.”

          -Erica, Port Washington, NY 

I have worked in the early childhood field for 6 years now. 3 years ago I became a mother and I had to leave the program I worked for. I had to leave the families and children I formed strong relationships with, and leave the staff who relied on me. All because I could not afford to cost of child care on top of the cost of living with the wage I made at that program. I was denied assistance from the state at the time because, "they were not going to pay for me to watch my own child," even though I was not working with that age group. Luckily I was able to remain in the field, when I found a position at another child care program that offered discounted child care for employees. Even now with discounted child care, it is our biggest expense and we still struggle financially. We need to take care of child care staff who have children and treat their needs the same as any other family who needs assistance. We need these teachers to stay in the field so we can meet the ever rising demand for child care. Without supporting the teachers and the backbones of the field, we will never be able to solve the child care crisis.
          -Sadie, Pellston, MI

I became pregnant with my first child as a senior in college. After graduating and having a small baby I could not find work that paid enough for putting my baby in childcare. It would have cost more for me to have her in childcare then to work.                
The first year I stayed home with her while we lived on a very meager budget. My husband is a social worker and did not make a big salary. We were in debt every month.                
We are still struggling to not be in debt. It seems like having kids and being in debt go hand in hand. When she was two, I was finally able to find work in my teaching artist field that I could then afford to have her in childcare. The situation was far from ideal.                
She was in a rural day care center where I tried to minimize how often she was there. She went in the afternoons only when I was teaching. I then found an in-home care that could take her on an as needed basis. Finding childcare while working part time in the arts was a full-time job.

          -Margarite, Oklahoma          
I was in a transition to teaching program and had secured a job to teach at the high school level this fall. I searched for daycare months before I had received a job offer, even putting my name on lists that charged non- refundable fees to get on their lists, even though they were unlikely to have a spot open. Most places wouldn’t even take my name down because their waiting lists were so full…            
My mom, who is in her late sixties with a chronic health condition said she could provide the rest of the care. I started the teaching job, but since I had to rush home immediately after the contracted hours of teaching, I quickly found that I was unable to keep up with lesson planning and grading, even if I woke up at 3 or 4 am to work before going to school.                

I quit my teaching job, and since I wasn’t fully licensed due to my transition to teaching status, I will NEVER be able to try to become a teacher using an alternate licensing route. Now I have no job and can’t look for one as I still don’t have daycare for my son. Additional stress is that now that I have to be on my husband’s employer provided health insurance, the cost for just the premium for family health insurance is literally 25 percent of his net pay. We’re draining our savings account just to pay our mortgage and buy groceries.I attended a virtual job fair to investigate jobs at daycares where I could potentially also take my son. None of the daycares had spots available for my son, but even if they did and I got a discount on daycare by being an employee, my entire net pay at the center would go to the daycare. So, what’s the point of working if you don’t bring any money home?

          -Anonymous, Kansas


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