Care That Works unites families and providers to help working families access affordable, reliable child care services
BOSTON — A pilot program providing working-class families with affordable child care services, available during nonstandard hours when parents are most in need, was announced by the Care That Works coalition during a press conference Wednesday.
“The Pilot Program marks an important step in creating solutions that ease the child care challenges that working families face, which are now more severe than ever,” said Lindsay McCluskey, Deputy Director of Community Labor United, which convenes the Care That Works coalition. “This Program will be critical in ensuring that residents can get back to work or pursue good jobs with the support they need when it comes to child care. We hope that the Pilot can model our vision of what the child care system should look like: one that truly supports working class families and child care providers.”
“Now is the time to create a better, more equitable and a just society,” said Mayor Marty Walsh, City of Boston. “Now is the time to show that child care is a public good and that it is our collective responsibility…we are going to keep fighting to support women, working families and child care providers because child care is essential for healthy, equitable communities.”
At the event, parents spoke about their struggle to access child care services and the resulting challenges it causes.
“Before we connected with a provider through this Program, I couldn’t find child care that matched with our work hours,” said Christina Morris, parent of four, and a member of the Carpenters union. “The unfortunate reality is that my situation is not unique. It is a present challenge faced by parents everywhere as a result of our inaccessible and unaffordable child care system. This challenge has only multiplied since the pandemic hit.
We need programs like the one that Care That Works launched today. We need programs that build a system accessible for all working families, which supports the careers of working parents by providing them child care, when they need it.”
Child care providers, including family child care providers, were already struggling before the pandemic and were dealt a devastating blow from COVID-19. Child care remains an economic necessity for working families, especially as more sectors of the economy begin to reopen. This Pilot Program uses an online platform, Carina Care, to connect families with providers looking for high-quality child care in their area. Details of the Pilot were shared in a Facebook Live virtual press conference. A recording can be viewed at @CareThatWorksMA.
“It can be challenging for parents to find child care right now. As child care providers, we want to do everything we can to provide safe, quality care for families and Carina is a tool that allows us to do that,” said Maria Esteves, a child care provider in Roslindale.
Massachusetts child care is among the most expensive in the country. Public subsidies cover only a small portion of the cost, and eligible families face long waiting lists. The State has imposed increasingly high standards on child care providers, but these providers’ wages remain low. The coronavirus pandemic has only compounded these challenges.
For many parents, COVID-19 has made child care a critical challenge in their lives. This challenge has affected their ability to work, and those who don’t have the option to work at home have to weigh the health risk posed by sending their child to a child care program against the loss of income. And many child care programs and those who operate them have struggled to remain open and meet new COVID-19 requirements.
“Being in the construction industry and being in an apprenticeship program that demands very early hours, I knew child care was going to be a difficult road ahead,” said Matthew Hamilton, a single parent and IBEW Local 103 apprentice. “My prior experience was that child care facilities don’t open up any earlier than 7:30 a.m. My situation is that I don’t have friends or family close by who could help me fill that early morning gap, when I leave for work and he needs to go to school. Care That Works has made a tremendous difference in that regard. They have maintained contact with me through the whole pandemic and have made a difference in me and my son’s life.”
The Pilot Program will:
- Be affordable to working-class families;
- Accessible at times when families most need care;
- Provide living wages and benefits to child care providers;
- Promote child care as a public good and collective responsibility; and
- Place parents and providers at the center of decision-making tables.
Care That Work coalition’s Pilot Program will connect parents and providers via Carina Care. This Carina project is a partnership to provide quality, licensed child care to working families. Local child care providers regularly update their profiles and current openings so that families in need of child care can search providers, find available care, and contact them quickly and easily. The SEIU, AFSCME, and the SEIU Education and Support Fund, along with Carina, are sponsoring this joint effort to bring together families and care providers.
The Care That Works coalition is comprised of unions and other organizations
coming together to work toward an affordable and accessible child care system that
addresses the impacts of coronavirus on child care providers statewide.
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About Care That Works:
Care that Works is a new campaign convened by Community Labor United that seeks to bring community-based organizations and labor unions together to confront the child care crisis in Massachusetts. Our coalition’s strength lies in joining the interests of child care providers and working families who both lose under an underfunded system. For more information, go to https://carethatworks.org.
Care That Works partner organizations include: Community Labor United, BEST Hospitality Training, Brookview House, Building Pathways, Matahari Women Workers’ Center, New England United for Justice, North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, Policy Group on Tradeswomen’s Issues, SEIU Local 509, SEIU Education and Support Fund, UAW Local 1596.