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Juneteenth and What It Means For Child Care

With all that is going on in our world right now and the seismic shifts we have come upon, I struggled this morning to write this blog, to figure out how I might share with you my thoughts. I encourage you to let me know what you think about it.

Today is Juneteenth – a day I had heard about over the years but hadn’t given much thought. I have always tried to see people as people, to consider not just their point of view but their context, their circumstances. Over the past few years, I have had the great fortune to meet people who have helped me understand that I wasn’t looking as deeply as I’d thought. I learned about unconscious biases; I learned about the anger people of color were and are feeling and why.

My personal, deeply held value is that all people matter, period. In the past few weeks, though, I have realized why that is not enough. So, I will learn more, listen closely, and ask questions so I can do a better job to affect positive change.

Professionally, child care is where my focus lands. We can ask questions about what children need to succeed and how we can better meet those needs. We can look to build a more cohesive system of care that meets the needs of the child, the family, and the community. And access to quality child care is vital – it is essential. As Shantel Meek and Conor P. Williams wrote recently in the NY Times, “[C]hild care isn’t just a place where children exist while their parents go to work. It’s a place where they can learn, develop and grow.”

Yet, racial inequities that exist in child care have not been addressed to any great extent. In 2017, The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advancing policy solutions for low-income people, released Equity Starts Early: Addressing Racial Inequities in Child Care and Early Education Policy which delved into the systemic disparities faced by families of color:, “Achieving the goal of a more equitable system requires attention to racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity, given the demographics of young children and the early childhood workforce and the large racial inequities in opportunities and outcomes for these populations.”

COVID-19 has exacerbated racial issues in child care - 330,000 child care jobs were lost in April alone, the equivalent of one third of all jobs in the child care sector, impacting Black and Latinx women most of all. My hope is that as the conversations around human rights and social justice continues, we keep the care of children in mind.