Inflation: Let’s Do the Long Math
JP President and CEO Chastity Lord says economic mobility doesn’t work without childcare, without childcare teachers, without an equitable childcare system.
The pandemic has laid bare something that Jeremiah Program has known for nearly 25 years: Moms, especially single moms, are essential workers. They are the backbone of our economy, and when a crisis hits, they bear the burden for themselves and their children.
One of the most essential supports for JP moms is quality childcare. However, the early childcare sector is currently on life support after years of inequity baked into the system. Early childcare workers are 90% women and over 50% BIPOC, and nearly 100% are living at or below the poverty line.
We can do better. Economic mobility doesn’t work without childcare, without childcare teachers, without an equitable childcare system.
A former childcare teacher recently shared, “I know what it’s like to be held accountable for the safety and development of children while holding the shame that I may not be able to feed my own.” This is the reality of early childcare in our country. We know the greatest developmental milestones of a child’s life occur from birth to age 3. Yet, the teachers — mostly women — holding these vital jobs are consistently making less than your local barista. Now imagine your wallet being upended by a 200% increase in gas prices.
Research shows that children in high-quality early childcare programs are more likely to enter school on grade level — a critical metric for high school completion. This is only one reason JP supports increased funding, training, and compensation for early childcare teachers. Simply put, quality childcare is not a nice-to-have; it’s critical to economic mobility and has an outsized effect on the people most impacted by this pandemic: single moms and those experiencing poverty.
The early childcare sector isn’t experiencing a great resignation but rather a demand for appreciation and the ability to make a living wage doing the work they love.
The high gas prices have only exacerbated the issue, forcing those living at the margins to choose between groceries and gas. If that sounds dramatic, that’s because the reality is humbling.
We can do better. Economic mobility doesn’t work without childcare, without early childcare teachers, without an equitable care system. It’s not just the higher gas prices. Let’s do the long math and be honest about all the ways it’s expensive to be poor.
Chastity Lord is the President and CEO of Jeremiah Program.
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