In a recent MSNBC News special, Ali Vitali spoke with child care providers who are struggling to stay open and serve their communities, and with working mothers who are being forced to make difficult decisions between their careers and ensuring their children have access to safe, healthy child care.
During one interview, Lynita Law-Reid, a child care provider in Washington, DC, shared her story about the difficult decisions she faced in reopening her business and caring for children.
“[If] they don’t go to work, many of them don’t get paid,” she told NBC News, noting that many of these parents are the heads of their households and describing the kinds of phone calls she got while closed. “Things like, ‘Miss Law. When are you guys gonna reopen? Because my baby has gone from my sister’s house for one week because I have to work, to my grandmother’s house. Next week, I’m not quite sure where I’ll put her, you know, but I have to get to work.’”
This pandemic has pushed an already struggling child care industry to the brink of collapse and data show that women are carrying the bulk of the crisis as they make up a vast majority of the child care workforce and are more likely than fathers to leave work to care for their children in the absence of care. At the beginning of the pandemic nearly a third of child care jobs were eliminated between February and April, with women accounting for 95 percent of those losses. As of July, the workforce was still 20 percent smaller than it was pre-pandemic. New data from the Bipartisan Policy Center indicates 70% of the nation’s child care facilities are either closed or operating a reduced capacity.
While there have been bipartisan efforts in recent months to provide additional child care relief through a stabilization fund, negotiations between Congress and the White House on a final economic recovery package have stalled.