Working Moms Urge Congress to Act Swiftly to Address the Growing Child Care Crisis
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) hosted a roundtable discussion to hear directly from working moms who are directly affected by the child care crisis in the COVID-19 era. Joining the Chairman for the discussion were Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (D-CT), a working mom and 2016 National Teacher of The Year; Deb Perelman, a working mom and creator of Smitten Kitchen who recently penned a New York Times op-ed on the child care issue; Julie Groce, a working mom from Michigan and member of MomsRising; and Diana Limongi, a working mom from New York and member of MomsRising.
Chairman Neal pointed out that “even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, there was a shortage of good child care options in this nation,” and emphasized that “until we address the child care crisis, families cannot function and the economy cannot successfully reopen.” In reiterating his commitment to passing meaningful legislation on the matter, he noted that “we’re all in this together… what we mean by community is a place where no one is to be left behind.”
The mothers emphasized the impossible choices they’re forced to make during the COVID-19 crisis, and highlighted their worries regarding their children’s safety and education, as well as their concerns around their own ability to continue working while navigating these uncertain times:
Congresswoman Hayes: “Child care is not exclusively only about child care. All of these things are interconnected… We have a moral responsibility to legislate in a way that gives families some support and helps them to continue to be productive members of society. I understand the relationship between all of these things. Child care is not a standalone issue – it affects the SNAP program, it affects housing security, it affects food security. We have to consider the totality of all of these things. If parents can’t work, then we begin to put a strain on all these other social and community network programs.”
Deb Perelman: “This idea that you could pivot and magically make a career disappear because schools and day cares closed is so absurd. And it really terrifies me, the idea that these really retrograde views – to use this as an excuse to re-deliberate whether mothers should even be at work. And obviously, there are men who are being pushed out of work too, but we know that it’s disproportionately the moms that take the career hits. And we also know that moms who leave the workforce have a really hard time getting back in when they leave to take care of kids for a couple years. They don’t really make an economic recovery.”
Julie Groce: “I don’t know how we’re going to find a spot in a program that’s high-quality, that does a good job protecting Adam from COVID-19. The entire situation is terrifying, but we have to make a choice. We don’t really have a choice – I have to go back to work because we need two incomes to make ends meet… For our society to function and to thrive, there has to be more support for families, and I hope Congress will help fund child care in the next pandemic relief package.”
Diana Limongi: “It’s not possible for my husband and me to work and care for a three-year-old and a nine-year-old. At first we tried to stagger our schedules – we worked early mornings and late nights – but that was quickly unsustainable. Being stretched so thin has taken a huge toll on our mental and physical health… I am hoping that more leaders in American will recognize that child care is in an emergency state.”
Watch the full discussion HERE.
More on the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act is available HERE.
Chairman Neal and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey’s (D-NY) CNN op-ed on the need for child care to re-open the economy can be found HERE.