Recently, Flexable attended the Childcare and Business Roundtable, sponsored by the National Women’s Law Center and PepsiCo, at PNC Tower. It was a lively discussion, with the panel consisting of child care advocates such as Jeanine McCreary, President of McCreary Group, and Cara Ciminillo, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children. Topics ranged from how do we help working parents and become more active in advocacy to the need for a shift in our cultural perspective: Child care needs to be taken seriously, and not viewed merely as “women’s work.”
What struck a hard chord with me was a discussion about the system being broken. And indeed, if you stop and look at it, the child care system in America is very broken. Women who work in early childhood and in daycares around our country are usually struggling themselves. As pointed out, these women work tirelessly for families because childcare is so hard to come by. They use their weekends for professional development; they come in sick because they know the families that use their care don’t have any other options; they stretch themselves thin because they care about these families. And quite often, these women, too, are also receiving some kind of assistance for childcare as well, since they are usually making barely above minimum wage.
The consensus was that what working parents need is more flexibility in childcare hours; more leveraging for partnerships to bring childcare to more places, including more rural areas; and that we need to reinvent the model and reinvest in children and families. As Tom Lamb, Senior VP of Government Affairs at PNC said, “It all comes back to work/life balance. Really easy to say; really hard to do.” This is true: How do we reinvent childcare to reinvest in families?
An answer I can give to this question is with Flexable. Give working parents the option to bring their children to work with them on days when schools are closed. We are on a mission to make childcare easier and more accessible to families, and thus we are eliminating the stress of missing work and/or wondering who will care for the children when other facilities are closed.
I heard a story about a working mom who was given 30 days to move out of her apartment due to her landlord’s failure to meet state inspections. Aside from this, she also had a sick toddler and her babysitter had called off, to add to her stress. Therefore, she had to call off of work as well — she works at a restaurant, so it’s shift work, paid hourly — and was written up for calling off on her shift. How is this fair? She had to care for her toddler, there was no other option, and she has the added stress of trying to find a new place to live. This situation is the reality of numerous working parents every day. Shouldn’t we care? Shouldn’t we try to help, and change the conversation? How can we have a strong society if we don’t start taking care of one another? If companies would invest in childcare on site for their employees, or partnering with a child care center, parents who find themselves in these situations wouldn’t be in dire straits.
Overall, there’s no easy way to fix this broken system of childcare in the US. Flexable is going to continue to advocate for #childcareeverywhere, and we will continue to try to change the system. As Jeanine McCreary said, “Childcare is a public good.” So let’s change the conversation, and start bringing childcare to more offices and events.