Hundreds of daycare centers closed as workers go on strike

Pandemic-era causes childcare deserts

With the rise of remote work, fewer people sent their kids to childcare during the pandemic. Now, with many companies calling employees back to the office, some parents are having problems.

More than 200 daycare centers and early learning providers across 27 states and Washington, D.C., have pledged to close their doors Monday as their workers, joined by the parents they serve, go on strike. 

USA Today reported that there are more than 40 events scheduled Monday at different state capitals or city halls and nearly 400 early childcare professionals have pledged to call out as part of "A Day Without Child Care: A National Day of Action." If parents cannot show up in person, organizers ask them to show support by wearing to work pins with statements such as "I wouldn't be here today without childcare." Monday's strike comes a day after Mother's Day. 

SOUTH CAROLINA RESTAURANT OFFERS IN-HOUSE CHILDCARE FOR EMPLOYEES' KIDS 

The purpose of the strike is for daycare workers to stress to policymakers how essential they are to not only families but also to the U.S. economy. 

Community Change Action’s website lists three goals: living wages for child care providers, "an equitable child care system built on racial justice," and affordable child care for all families. 

Children play on the playground of a daycare center in Richmond, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. Since Covid-19 arrived in earnest in early 2020, about one-third of childcare centers have closed and some 111,000 workers have departed the sec (Photographer: Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Organizers of the rallies are demanding better wages and subsidies industry-wide, as few providers make a profit, and many are in the red. 

There is also a staffing crisis within the industry, as the demand for childcare far outweighs the supply and workers often earn poverty level wages with few benefits. The median wage is $13.22 an hour, and most childcare providers are women, a disproportionate amount of whom are women of color. 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognized the importance of childcare at the onset of the pandemic, but that realization has waned given the failure of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan, which proposed federal investments in childcare and pre-K to, in part, set a cap on the amount families pay for services and establish minimum salary requirements for workers, Wendoly Marte, a community organizer in New York City behind the national initiative, told USA Today. 

Shanikia Johnson, a three-year-olds teacher, helps Magjor Jones clean up a puzzle at Little Flowers Early Childhood and Development Center in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland on January 12, 2021. ((Photo by Matt Roth for The Washington Post via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

Congress also ended the child tax credit, something Democrats want to revive, she said.  

An estimated four out of five daycare centers nationwide are understaffed, according to a survey last summer, and that number is projected to have only increased since then as workers have gravitated toward lower stress, higher paying warehouse or chain restaurant jobs. 

Locker space for children is pictured in the childcare center at Kids & Company in Boston’s Seaport District on Aug. 20, 2019.  ( (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

Meanwhile, many women operating daycare centers are mothers who know the struggle of affording childcare themselves, have earned degrees in early education and work to comply with strict licensing rules to maintain their designation as high-quality providers. 

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Organizers also stress that millions of children have fallen below the poverty line since congressional COVID relief expired, so they say working mothers now more than ever need reliable childcare. 

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