House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi met with working mom’s, children’s advocates, and providers in San Francisco on Thursday to address the severe shortage of affordable child care options in California, which causes millions of women to struggle to stay employed.
“There is no higher priority for working parents than the success and security of their families,” Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “By investing in early education, supporting our child care providers, and improving access to affordable quality child care, we can help ensure hard-working women and middle class families can pursue the opportunities they deserve.”
Luisa Blue, Chief Elected Officer of SEIU Local 521 spoke on behalf of Child Care Providers United, whose thousands of members child care providers have long advocated improved access to child care services for the working families they support. Blue expressed the hope that community members and providers could join forces and finally make change happen. Congresswoman Pelosi joined in this effort to bring together stakeholders on the issue in light of the momentum from President Obama’s State of the Union call for universal preschool.
Linda Asato, executive director of the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, said the state also has to provide adequate funding of programs and detailed the drastic cuts these programs have seen in recent years. Due to these cuts, there are 4,800 children on the waiting list in San Francisco, and 300,000 across the state.
Nancy Harvey, CCPU member and owner of Lil Nancy’s Schoolhouse in Oakland, spoke about the choices faced by the working moms and fathers who entrust their children to her every day: “The crisis we face is heartbreaking. I see it firsthand. I hear the tales, through tears and panic, of what it’s like to not have child care you can count on or afford.”
Harvey said providers like her on the front lines of ill-thought budget cuts that threaten child care quality and accessibility have been uniting together, house-calling one another, and organizing meetings with parents and employers alike because they are in the best position to advocate for improvements to the system so working men and women can return to work, contribute to the economy, and pursue higher education. “We know what works for California families. We cannot take any more cuts when quality is on the line. We need to be invested in. Providers can lead the way to fix what’s broken and save on costs so we can help more families get back to work.”
PG&E’s head of electric operations, Geisha Williams, spoke about the utility’s landmark daycare center available for children of its working parents. She said it offered employees peace of mind knowing their children are safe and being nurtured so that they can focus on their jobs.
Parent Voices leader, Mary Ignatius, whose brought her 3-year-old son to the event, said child care programs “help me not have to make a choice between being a good mother and a good employee.” Ignatius, who is expecting a second child, said day care costs for her and her husband, who both work, could go up to more than $3,000 per month combined for both children.
Other speakers included Ann O’Leary, the Vice President and Director of the Children & Families Program of Next Generation, and Noushin Mofakham, Exec. Director of South of Market Child Care, the facility that hosted the event.
Before and after the event, parents and providers had the opportunity to talk to the Congresswoman about their childcare needs and the personal challenges they have had securing and providing child care in their communities.
Community, civic, faith-based and women’s organizations such as Labor Project for Working Families, California NOW, and OUR Walmart were also present, joining the effort to strengthen investment in quality child care and early learning services for working families.
For more on the event, check out these news stories:
- Pelosi calls attention to child care option shortage in the Bay Area – ABC7/KGO – March 28, 2013
- Nancy Pelosi pushes for more child care options – NBC Bay Area – March 28, 2013
- Pelosi visits SF day care, calls for more funding for early education programs – SF Appeal – March 28, 2013
- PG&E’s onsite child care center allows parents to have peace of mind while working – PG&E Currents – March 28, 2013