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Nina Perez's picture

I’m on day… well who even knows anymore of working from home with my toddler and, like so many of you, my partner and I are wondering when juggling our child care and work will come to an end. But one thing is for sure, we want it to happen safely. 

We sat watching the news yesterday in horror as states are reopening even as numbers of those infected are rising, and even though there’s insufficient testing in most of our nation to ensure we don’t see further spread. As a mother, daughter, and someone who loves my community, this is SCARY. And there is one piece that really baffles me in these openings… how are parents supposed to get back to work if they are called in while a huge percentage of child care centers are still closed? 

NEWS FLASH: There is no real "reopening" or economic recovery if parents and caregivers can’t get back to work. Child care funding in the next relief package is a MUST! 

Honestly, I know my partner and I are luckier than many in that we can work from home (even if our child is wondering if there is a return policy on her parents). When you talk to most parents and caregivers, you’ll know that there was already a child care crisis before the pandemic with more than half of all Americans living in child care deserts and, for those who could access care, the cost exceeded that of most major household expenses including housing (especially for families with infants where the costs are higher). Now, this pandemic has made an already big child care crisis into a child care crisis of EPIC proportions as we are on the verge of permanently losing 4.5 million child care slots (yes, MILLIONS!) and about half of all our child care programs. Excuse me as I go breathe into a paper bag. 

And parents who are essential workers right now are already struggling to find child care.  

Moms like Jessica, who says, “I am concerned about child care as my husband and I both work full time; he is not home in the evenings at all so I need to be available for my children. I do not have family who can take my children or help us. I am a social worker who obtains aide services and needed supplies to members who are unable to care for themselves and are medically frail. I need to do my job, but I cannot with my children at home, one of which is 3 years old. However, I will not get paid if I don’t work and will most likely lose my job. I need assistance and do not know what to do. Please help myself and others in this situation.”

What is going to happen when we start reopening and ask parents and caregivers to go back to work without child care? And how do we support child care providers to ensure it’s safe for them, the child care workforce, and our kids?! 

Elected leaders need to get on this ASAP. Click here to sign our letter to tell Congress that families need them to FUND CHILD CARE NOW!

More than ever I'm grateful for the loving care my child normally receives while we work, and what I really want to see Congress do is to support funding for the child care industry, not the private jet industry (which got a $25 billion bail out?!). 

The size and scope of the impact of this public health crisis on the child care sector is profound and growing with families with young children – including infants and toddlers – struggling the most. In the next relief package, we are urging Congress to, at a minimum, make a $50 billion dollar investment (or $9.6 billion a month) in our child care system, which would: 

  • Eliminate copayments or tuition and fees to “save spots” for families during this crisis and ensure that providers are still paid the full amount for that enrolled slot.
    • Pay child care providers to cover their ongoing operating costs when they are closed so their financial security – and the security of educators they employ – is not threatened. 

    • Provide higher levels of compensation – hazard pay – for child care providers and educators serving children of frontline workers or operating for longer hours.

    • Purchase materials for providers that cannot afford or even find supplies on their own (especially sanitation supplies like hand sanitizer and gloves)

    • Provide training and medical support for child care providers on health and safety practices in response to the virus, available in all relevant languages.

Families are struggling and will continue to struggle even after this crisis passes if we don’t act now. Parents and caregivers also need protections like: paid sick days, paid family/medical leave for all child care needs, and preventing job loss. Urge Congress to provide at least $50 billion in child care funding to ensure the stability of our child care system.

It’s more important than ever that we speak up. Too often, people think of child care as a “personal issue” – as in our own problem to solve. It’s not. This crisis has shown more clearly than ever what we already knew, that we cannot continue to expect families and providers to bear the responsibility of child care on their shoulders alone. 

If people can’t get back to work after this crisis is over because they don’t have access to child care, it will hurt us all and negatively impact the ability for our communities and economy to bounce back. 

We know that a lot of people in your network are dealing with this same stressful struggle too, so after you sign our letter, share this post with your friends and family and make sure to post our action link to Facebook. The more people that take action and speak out, the higher the profile this issue will get and the faster we’ll get to solutions. There is so much information coming through the airwaves and up to Congress that we all need to pitch in by sharing information like this in order to break through. 

It’s time for Congress to take action on child care and, together, we can raise our voices to make sure they do!

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