I’m a fourth generation child care provider in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My mother was a provider, and so was her mother, and her mother before her. Now, I’m the owner and a director of my own center, Family Circle Academy. I am one of hundreds of child care providers, parents, or supporters participating in an event on May 9th, a Day Without Child Care.
I hope to leave my child care business to my daughters one day. Which is why it is so important that we win big changes for child care. Not only is my own livelihood on the line—it’s my family legacy.
I’m honored to be a childcare provider and to support so many families in my community. I’m honored to have my daughters want to follow in my footsteps. But I do not want to send them into an industry of poverty, where childcare providers don’t make a livable wage and providers qualify for welfare benefits. I want to leave a legacy of hope.
The federal government and elected officials may not value the work my family has done for generations. But I and the families I serve know that child care is essential.
Me and hundreds of other child care providers, parents and supporters have decided that enough is enough. So we are taking action. In Philly, I am closing my center doors for the day and planning a rally at City Hall and a block party called “Unity in the Community.”
I started planning right away and began hosting a weekly meet and greet to talk about why a Day Without Child Care would be important, and asking providers and parents to join in.
I drove around my neighborhood and made a list of more than 20 centers close to mine. We called through them and invited them to join our meet and greet. On their very first meet and greet call, one of those providers from my neighborhood committed to speaking out about how she’s unable to pay her employees—her family members—a living wage. Another committed to inviting the other 4 centers in her network. Now 24 centers in my city are also closing their doors on May 9. Providers are ready to take action because we are at a breaking point.
I want my daughters to know that on May 9, I stood with other childcare providers and other parents to let elected officials know that we’re no longer going to tolerate disrespect. I am here, ready to do the work, and I’m not going to stop.
I want to uplift as many Black and brown women and children as I can, but I’m constantly struggling with keeping my doors open.
I knew it would be hard, but it’s what we need to do: Stand together, and unite our community— parents and child care providers. People can’t go to work if they have nowhere to take their children. We need an equitable system that is supporting both parents, providers, and the economy.
The day is almost here—not just for my event in Philly, but over 40 other events in 27 states and counting. I am a tireless advocate for child care and families, and that is a legacy I will also leave my daughters.
Be sure to check out an event near you—and if you’re in Philly, I’ll see you in the streets.