Today, child care centers across the nation are closing their doors as workers, educators, parents, and activists stage A Day Without Child Care, a multi-state demonstration to highlight the essential nature of child care to the country’s economy. Participants will be closing the doors of their child care centers or calling in for the day to join together to attend rallies and write or call lawmakers.
The Day Without Child Care is being organized by Community Change Action. “We are fighting for a world where parents, child care providers, and the early educators who support our children and their families live with dignity and respect — no matter their zip code or what they look like,” the website reads. As such, at least 400 day and child care centers are closed nationwide to strike the unmanageable working conditions for child care workers — and the conditions for the families who need to be served by those centers.
The child care industry was hit hard by the Covid 19 pandemic — 8,899 childc are centers in 37 states closed, alongside 6,957 in-home care centers between 2019 and 2021. The facilities that remained open were only able to do so by increasing their prices, in some cases by 41%, since before the pandemic began.
These increases resulted in many low- and middle-income families being unable to afford quality care, which averages around $14,000 per year. Without child care, parents, usually, mothers, cannot work, which lowers a family’s standard of living and can mean parents have to make hard financial choices. It also means fewer people are joining the workforce, which weakens the economy as a whole. At the same time, child care workers are often paid between $21,000 and $30,000 a year on average — showing that those price increases aren’t going into workers’ pockets, but instead to the high costs of operating a child care center. With workers and parents struggling to make ends meet, and many child care centers shuttered from the pandemic, it’s clear that something has to give.
A Day Without Child Care aims to shine a light on the child care crisis and urge elected officials to recognize their demands:
- Living wages for child care providers
- An equitable child care system built on racial justice
- Affordable child care for all families
The Biden Administration has attempted to address the child care crisis but hasn’t delivered on one of the core promises of Biden’s campaign — that he would invest historic amounts of money into child care to subsidize it, increase worker wages, increase access to child care centers, and make it affordable for more families. Although 68% of Americans believe there should be universal child care, Congress has not bolstered this massive aspect of the social safety net, and the President’s attempts to enact legislation to that effect have stalled on the Senate floor.
During his State of the Union Address, President Biden gave the broad strokes on his child care plan, repeating that there should be a cap on the amount families should pay for child care. “Middle-class and working folks shouldn’t have to pay more than 7 percent of their income to care for their young children,” he explained. “My plan would cut the cost in half for most families and help parents, including millions of women, who left the workforce during the pandemic because they couldn’t afford child care, to be able to get back to work. Generating economic growth.” He added that his plan includes universal care for kids below kindergarten age. While that’s wonderful, until it comes to pass, families will still have to pay for child care centers that in many states cost more than tuition at a four-year public college.