Sacramento – For the past 23 years, Parent Voices, a parent-led and parent-run grassroots organization that fights for accessible and affordable child care, has visited the state Capitol on “Stand for Children Day” to advocate for child care on behalf of working families. However, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Parent Voices hosted its first ever Stand for Children Live event, a virtual conference, on Wednesday, May 6. In addition to observing the governor’s continuing stay-at-home orders, the event made it easier than ever for Californians to participate and make a difference in the health and safety of California’s children and their families.
California state Sen. Holly Mitchell kicked off Stand for Children Live, as Parent Voices discussed pressing child care challenges and proposed solutions with state legislators and others. Parents who are also essential workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis were on hand to share their stories and challenges.
“As California faces the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, essential infrastructure workers – from grocery store clerks to janitorial staff – have been left without access to safe, affordable child care,” said Mary Ignatius, statewide organizer for Parent Voices. “Parents working in low-wage jobs have no choice but to go to work, leaving their families in an impossible situation. This is especially true for vulnerable populations such as women and children at risk of violence, communities of color and those with disabilities.”
“My provider may close her doors because she can’t afford to stay open. What will I do? . . .”
Child care providers are struggling to keep their doors open. The volatility and disruptions caused by COVID-19, from fluctuating enrollment to having employees at high risk of serious illness, have put them in a precarious situation. As child care providers operate on razor-thin financial margins and deal with extended closures, some researchers estimate that half of the child care programs in our country will close permanently without access to critical funding to help them survive this crisis.
LaRae Cantley from Compton, California, shared how challenging it is to be an essential worker and access child care. “My provider may close her doors because she can’t afford to stay open. What will I do? I work evenings and weekends and my son has developed a strong relationship with her. It was hard to find child care before, it’s going to be so much harder if we turn our backs on these providers and they are no longer able to care for our kids.”
“Now more than ever, California needs to meet the ongoing and everyday needs of working families by expanding and sustaining access to child care services and supporting child care providers through this unprecedented crisis,” said Ignatius. “Child care has been and continues to be the backbone of our economy that allows parents to go to work and keep society functioning. To make a healthier, safer California a reality, we need to hear from you.”
If you’ve been impacted by child care shortfalls during COVID-19, join Stand for Children Live, reach out to Parent Voices directly, or share your story with the hashtag #AlwaysEssential.
Parent Voices is a parent-led, parent-run grassroots organization fighting to make quality child care accessible and affordable to all families.www.parentvoices.org.
A video of the entire Stand For Children Live event