#ChildCareIsEssential Press Conference and Virtual Rally
On June 11, 2020, Schuyler Center along with the Empire State Child Care Campaign, Winning Beginning NY, and other partners, hosted a press conference and virtual rally on the importance of child care in reopening New York’s economy and for the well-being of New York children and families. More than 500 parents, child care providers and advocates as well as state legislators, virtually came together to urge New York and federal leaders to invest in child care NOW.
Our message: There is no more time to delay. New York cannot recover without child care.
We organized this event because we’ve been hearing from more parents every day that they’re being called back to work, but don’t have a plan for their children. School is over. Many camps are cancelled or uncertain about reopening, and many child care providers are still closed. Those child care providers that are open, or re-opening, must operate at reduced capacity and follow intensive new safety and cleaning protocols. Without a way to cover the high costs associated with these new rules, there is a risk that many, if not most of New York child care providers will be forced out of business. And yet, New York still has no sustainable plan for ensuring parents access to safe, affordable child care.
The press conference featured remarks by two parents about the challenges they have faced balancing work and caring for their children during the pandemic, and their fears about finding and affording safe, quality child care in the coming months. Paulette Guerrero-Duran, a parent from Staten Island, spoke about her concern for child care providers and schools. She said juggling homeschooling and working full time during the pandemic has been one of the most difficult challenges she’s faced. She also voiced concern that child care centers need the proper resources, as well as a solid safety plan, for her to be able to return to her office. Vonetta Rhodes-Osi, a parent, former child care provider, and an essential worker who’s been required to work outside her home throughout the pandemic, discussed her concerns about being able to afford child care because her work hours have decreased. “Parents are struggling. Government must provide support.”
Alicia Marks, Director of Marks of Excellence Child Care in Suffolk County, said if you want to know how families are doing in New York, ask a child care provider. They’ve become a part of the vital workforce engine that keeps the economy sound. Rebecca Gonzales, Director of Time to Learn Day Care in the Bronx said, “child care providers are screaming for help to get more funding.”
Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee spoke not only as a legislator, but as a mother, a grandmother, and a former educator. “We cannot recover from the devastating impacts of COVID-19 without childcare. New York parents struggled to afford child care before the pandemic. How are they going to cover that cost now?” She called upon Governor Andrew Cuomo to immediately invest the remaining $134 million in emergency child care CARES Act Funds according to the plan recommended by New York’s Child Care Availability Task Force—a Task Force she fought hard to create.
We also heard from Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi who, as a parent himself, understands that parents need to get back to work but cannot do so without safe, quality, secure child care. Senator George Borrello thanked all the child care providers who’ve continued to work throughout the COVID-19 crisis and acknowledged, “We cannot rebuild our economy without the foundation of child care.” Assemblymember Michaelle Solages added, “We are fighting a crisis within a crisis within a crisis…We need to be smart, and we need to be loud.” She stressed that children are depending on both state and federal lawmakers to wake up and focus on child care. She urged Congress to allocate $50 billion to child care in order to get New York, and the rest of the country, back to work.
Closing out the press conference was Gladys Jones, leader of ECE on the Move. “New York State will not be able to revive if we don’t resurrect childcare.” No industry will be able to go back to work in New York State without it.
We ended our press conference and rally on a call to action: what is needed right now to save the child care industry is to speak up! Harness this energy and reach out to your lawmakers.