Melissa Harris-Perry: Welcome to The Takeaway. I'm Melissa Harris-Perry, and we're so pleased to have you here with us. Today, we're continuing our new series, The Takeaway: Deep Dive. Once again, we're joined by my friend and colleague, Dorian Warren. Now just as a reminder, Dorian is the co-president of Community Change, the co-chair of the Economic Security Project, and he and I have co-hosted multiple media projects over the years. Welcome back, Dorian.
Dorian Warren: Hey, Melissa. It's so glad to be back on The Takeaway. I'm super excited about today because we're going to be taking a very personal deep dive.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Dorian, personal because-- wait a minute, we've known each other 20 years, so just how personal is this deep dive going to get?
Dorian Warren: Listen, listen. Don't worry Melissa, we are going to talk policy. This is not abstract DC insider policy, we're not going to have that conversation. We're going to tackle a real-life, day-to-day, on-the-ground issue, and that is childcare and early learning.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Right now, Democrats in Congress are wrestling with the big-budget reconciliation or the human infrastructure bill. One centerpiece is childcare. At the same time that childcare is big policy, it's also just deeply personal. Dorian, that became so obvious just a few moments into our conversation with one of our guests, Aqeela Muntaqim. I feel like we have another guest with us. Can you introduce our other little person?
Aqeela Muntaqim: Yes. This is my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Her name is Nayima.
Melissa Harris-Perry: That is, of course, Aqeela Muntaqim. She's the deputy director of Mothering Justice. Now Mothering Justice is a Detroit-based BIPOC-led nonprofit grassroots and advocacy organization that develops political and policy leadership with mothers. As you know, during our conversation with Aqeela, she was definitely a living demonstration of the multiple challenges facing working moms. She was literally balancing a baby on the Zoom while talking with us.
Aqeela Muntaqim: She is my glorified office assistant. She really enjoys using Zoom. She loves being in the office with me.
Dorian Warren: Well, listen, this was so familiar to me, because as you know, I became a dad for the first time just a year ago. I got to say, being a parent in the midst of a global pandemic is no joke. I mean, that's been an entire year, conducting meetings with my little daughter perched on my knee, or she's crawling over me. Of course, she's always pushing the wrong buttons on my computer in the midst of a Zoom meeting. To say the least, it has been an adventure, but of course, I have to say this. It's been work. It's been labor because parenting is work.
Melissa Harris-Perry: The idea that there is no such thing as a non-working parent, that's just not true. [chuckles] All parents are working, it's really just a question of whether you're being paid for your labor or not. Look, as you know, because you knew me at the beginning of my time, first pregnant with my first child. Here I am, the mom of a college sophomore, I've got a second-grader. All of my baby balancing days hopefully are done. I did spend a lot of years as a single parent.
I remember solo parenting as an assistant professor, I was trying to get tenure. I was working so hard to take this PhD I'd earned and turn it into a career. Writing and teaching and traveling, and figuring out childcare was always the first and a lot of times the hardest task. I have to say, I thought about those years during our conversation with Aqeela.
Aqeela Muntaqim: I would love to send Nyima somewhere. It's been a challenge trying to figure things out now that the world is opening back up somewhat. Childcare presents unique fit of obstacles for a lot of families, including my own.
Dorian Warren: Unique challenges of childcare are not easily navigated by families trying to do it all by themselves. Childcare is not just their problem. It's our problem.
Aqeela Muntaqim: We absolutely 100% need an investment, a large investment in childcare from our government. I think that as we are somewhat exiting the height of the pandemic, folks are saying, "Hey, why won't people go back to work?" Is it the low minimum wage? Most likely, yes. Is it because they're lazy? Absolutely not. People want to work, but I think what the big piece that's missing is that folks don't have access to affordable quality childcare options. Not just for children who are under the age of five, but also their school-aged children.
Melissa Harris-Perry: It's such a good point. Affordable childcare is a chronically under met need in our country. The pandemic exposed the inequities in child care in the same way that it laid bare so many inequalities that have for long time just been operating right below the surface of our systems.
Aqeela Muntaqim: I live in Macomb, Michigan, so I'm a part of the Chippewa Valley School District. School-aged childcare is about $4.75 per hour per child. That might sound like a low amount, but for some families that have multiple children like mine, we have three that are currently in the program. It's usually about $140 a week, and that's only with them going after school for a couple hours. I could only imagine for families who needed to send their children early in the morning, then need to send them in the evening as well. They pay even more.
Then we think about the $450 billion that's on the line right now, that money we absolutely need it to go to childcare, because we need not only the investment in our centers and home-based childcare options, but we need it for families so that they can have more access to government funding so that we can continue to increase the threshold limits for income for families.
The one thing I dislike most about government assistance is that you have to be really, really destitute to qualify for benefits. Even if you make $50,000 a year, childcare for a infant usually is about $1,000 or more a month, and that is a huge chunk of someone's income. It's causing not just a lot of women to leave the workforce, but women, men, and even other family members who are just trying to find ways to help support one another and support the children who need it.
Dorian Warren: Okay, Melissa. Aqeela really set out the big picture here about childcare affordability. Let's get a little policy nerdy here and dig into some numbers. I want to be really clear right here. Childcare was staggeringly expensive well before the pandemic began. We can look at research report in 2019, which show that low-income families spent more than a third of their income on childcare, a third of their income on child care.
Now remember, we define any family who spends more than a third of their income on rent as being in serious danger of becoming homeless, yet low-income families routinely spend that much on childcare. The cost of childcare is not just a problem for low-income families. Even families who earned middle-class salaries struggle to afford it. Melissa, you live in North Carolina?
Melissa Harris-Perry: It's true and I live not just in North Carolina, but in Winston Salem, which has got a pretty good cost of living. In part, we choose to be here because you can truly be middle class on a normal person salary.
Dorian Warren: Well, the cost of living might be good on some things, but according to the Economic Policy Institute, the average annual cost of infant care in North Carolina, in your State, is about $9,500 a year. Now that's $790 a month. Compare that Melissa, to the cost of tuition to attend a State University in North Carolina, which is only $7,400 a month.
Melissa Harris-Perry: What?
Dorian Warren: Yes. $9,500 versus $7,400 in state tuition. A year of infant care in North Carolina, in your State, costs almost 30% more than tuition for a four year public college in the Tar Heel state. Let me add, since the minimum wage in North Carolina is still only $7.25 per hour, a minimum wage worker in North Carolina would have to work full-time from January to August, just to pay for childcare for one infant.
Aqeela Muntaqim: To work from January to August full-time just to pay for the childcare?
Dorian Warren: Just to pay for one infant. Don't get me started on Washington DC, where I live because the average annual infant cost here in the district is more than $24,000 a year. That's literally four times as expensive as tuition at a public university, but also Melissa, let me add. Since 2008, DC has pioneered one of the country's most successful universal pre-K programs and it makes it free for all district residents. When my daughter turns three, we good. Until then, the cost is a lot until three years old.
Melissa Harris-Perry: That's a long time. It's worth pointing out here that this cost of childcare is not just a problem based on those numbers you just gave us, Dorian, it is a full-scale catastrophe and as Aqeela talked with us, she was exceedingly clear about how this cost burden of childcare affects real people.
Aqeela Muntaqim: There have been times when I could not afford childcare and I've been married for almost eight years, we both have always had good jobs. I think the most we spent in one year for three of our children to go to daycare was about close to $20,000. That year I made $55,000, so that's almost half of my income, so I was paying to go to work.
Melissa Harris-Perry: When Aqeela Muntaqim there, of Mothering Justice talks about paying to go to work, she really gets to the heart of at least this one issue we've been talking about so far, the cost of childcare, but I don't want us to forget, Dorian, that the pandemic also made something else brutally clear, and that's the availability of care and with most schools in most districts around the country closed during the 2020/2021 school year, we were reminded of something else and it's something that Karen D'Souza, who's a senior writer at EdSource emphasized when we spoke with her.
Karen D'Souza: In some ways, it's a little bit of a false dichotomy. I think something we learned during the pandemic. My daughter was 10 for most of the pandemic, but not having her in school. I realized school is also childcare. That is actually how she is minded for most of the day and when school isn't around, suddenly, you need childcare.
Dorian Warren: That's right. We've been talking about the expense of infant and preschool care, but we have to remember that school, Melissa, is child care and as you point out, school was mostly closed all of last year, and as a result, nearly 3 million women left the workforce and nearly 2 million still have not returned. We know that women's workforce participation is at a 30 year low.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Dorian, being in media, I've been thinking a lot about the fact that all the headline-grabbing stories are all about this vocal minority of parents who resist vaccinations and they oppose basic safety measures like masking, but the truth is that storyline also lets us ignore that the majority of parents are terrified about their kids infected and getting sick, so I absolutely understand why a lot of parents of young children are simply unwilling to risk exposing their kids to crowded classrooms in poorly ventilated schools or childcare settings.
Dorian Warren: Remember, Melissa, the pandemic exacerbated problems with childcare availability that already existed. For instance, research by the Center for American Progress shows that in 2018, more than half of families with young children already lived in a childcare desert.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Wait, what's a childcare desert?
Dorian Warren: You've probably heard of food deserts, but a childcare desert is a measure based on comparing the number of licensed childcare centers and their capacity to the number of young children in a local community, so a childcare desert is actually a census track where there are more than three kids under five years old for every one licensed childcare slot.
Melissa Harris-Perry: I just bet there are some pretty predictable patterns about which families have access to care and which families are trapped in those deserts.
Dorian Warren: Yes. We know that women of color and their children are disproportionately impacted by this problem and childcare in this country isn't simple, easy, or inexpensive for anyone. This is truly an all-of-us problem, so here again is Karen D’Souza, senior writer for EdSource.
Karen D'Souza: I think it's a matter of how you define childcare. There are definitely countries in which childcare is defined as a public good like the parks and the libraries and clean air. It's something that should be state-funded so that we all have access to it. In America, it's been largely a private matter and it is hugely unaffordable for many families.
Dorian Warren: Okay. Let me make this a little more concrete, Melissa. I went back into the digital archives of the organization I lead. I went digging into crates at Community Change, and I found the video we produced with parents, with caregivers, and with organizers and we brought these voices together back in 2018. This is three years ago, and I think if you listen, you'll hear all these same concerns expressed.
Speaker 1: I have three children, a 21-year-old, a 14-year-old, and a 5-year-old, and I work probably about 45 minutes from home, so right now, we are working and juggling a lot of activities.
Speaker 2: I'm on the waiting list for subsidized childcare for six and a half years. My son who is 23, was staying home and watching my kids. He had to put off going to college.
Speaker 3: My youngest child has a developmental disability. I have an education that I couldn't use because I was trapped. It's because someone else decided that my child was too much to have in childcare.
Melissa Harris-Perry: I think we should turn to a third critical dimension of childcare, quality.
Dorian Warren: Absolutely, Melissa, because we know that high-quality childcare and early learning for young kids does more than allow parents to earn an income. High-quality early childhood education builds the cognitive and social skills of children. To learn more about this, we talked with an early learning expert.
Karen D'Souza: My name is Karen D'Souza. I'm a senior writer at EdSource.
Dorian Warren: Now, Karen talked with us about some of the key ways that early childhood education affects learning and development.
Karen D'Souza: It's actually really fascinating stuff. There was a study recently out of Brown, kind of a dire study actually, about baby IQ during the pandemic, and there were some really huge drops, like 20 point drops. They said, they're theorizing what it mostly is a lack of serve and return between babies and caregivers. Now that's how you actually build the neural infrastructure of the brain.
The baby makes a noise, looks at something, reaches out and the adult responds and in that interaction, the child learns something about the world and communication and psychology. Things that you don't put into words, certainly not trigonometry, but those interactions build the brain in really crucial ways. 90% of that happens before kindergarten, so that quality of interaction with the adults in your life, be it your parents, your caregivers, your teachers, is really crucial to the kind of brain you're going to walk into school with.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Dorian, I know you're parenting a little one right now, and just thinking about that serve and return language that Karen gave us and how many times in a day you do that, it gives us such a clear understanding of the value of early childhood education, and so I asked Karen because I was wondering, all right, do we have an equally clear and uncontested measures about what makes any given childcare setting a quality care setting?
Karen D'Souza: That is an excellent question. There are many different ways to define childcare. The National Institute for Early Education research has some metrics that they use. Some of it being like the preparedness of the teachers, small class ratios between students and teachers, but there are other people who would define high-quality childcare as joyful childcare, childcare in which the children really feel responded to and cared for and loved, and so I think it depends who you talk to as to how you define quality.
Dorian Warren: Joyful childcare, so Melissa, listen, this is not a mystery. We know a lot about what it means to provide true high-quality care to young children and this includes a range of things, a range of metrics, a range of measures, small class sizes with highly skilled staff and teachers, or a language-rich environment where children are allowed and encouraged to talk and to sing and to play and interact and not simply told to be quiet and sit still. Another one is we know kids need stimulating, age-appropriate activities that allow them to stretch and to think, and we know that it's so important that these environments be clean, be safe, be healthy, and be welcoming.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Dorian, I feel like you heard the same thing I did there from Karen, that language about joyful and that quality being about these joyful, meaningful interactions between children and caregivers. I know from me the moment she said it, I was thinking about the Children's Defense Fund Freedom schools and for the most part, these schools, they don't operate on a full school year are basis.
They're mostly summer programs or after school programs, but they really focus in not only on the key academic skills around literacy, but they are so intentional about constructing this meaningful sense of efficacy, and pride, and explicitly teaching kids that they can make a difference in their families, in their schools, their communities, their country, their world.
I'm an advocate because I did help to establish a freedom school for young learners at Wake Forest University and I have to say every day that I would go, it just was transformative for me, for the other young people who were serving as caregivers and for the kids, but it also left me wondering, Dorian, why is it so hard to find these kinds of joyful and rigorous programs, especially for low-income, black, Latinx, and immigrant communities that are served by freedom schools?
Dorian Warren: This is a crucial question, Melissa, so let's go there because it's so important to retain and even improve the quality of childcare, even as we seek to address both the cost challenges and availability challenges, but there's at least one other important factor that comes to mind, and that's of course, the low wages earned by childcare workers themselves. Even though childcare is very expensive for each individual family, the people who provide the nation's childcare earn very little, and in fact, many can't afford childcare themselves. Karen D'Souza spoke with us about this issue as well.
Karen D'Souza: I think probably the chasms in the market have to be addressed. Janet Yellen actually recently described childcare in America as a broken market. I think that's helpful to think about it that way. Nearly half of childcare workers are on some form of public assistance. It's actually one of the lowest-paying jobs in the country. That's why you see so many childcare workers leaving the field, despite the fact that they love what they do, and they love small children, uniformly, anyone I've ever interviewed, you can tell they love what they do, but they have to make more money to feed their own families, so they often take another job at Walmart or McDonald's or Starbucks, which in many cases pays more than their childcare job. I think until that part, the compensation part is directly addressed, I think we're going to be grappling with the shortage for a long time.
Melissa Harris-Perry: I want to turn a little bit more on this question of childcare from this slightly different angle of childcare providers.
Dorian Warren: So important, providers, because of course, many of the challenges and inequities experienced by families are in fact mirrored in the experience of providers themselves. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are 93% of childcare workers and nearly half are Black, Asian American or Latinx. Now, many of these women of color childcare workers are the primary breadwinners in their families, but childcare workers earn on average, less than $12 an hour. Here again, is Aqeela Muntaqim, deputy director of Mothering Justice.
Aqeela Muntaqim: I always say that when you are in the care field, when you don't get paid well, you're not really happy. In order to provide quality care to someone, you need to be happy. You can't be the person there with the attitude because you are watching someone's children and you're realizing that your lights have been cut off and you aren't going to make enough money to have them cut back on, or you're a childcare provider who also has children, you can't bring your children to work with you, even though you're watching other people's children and you also can't afford to send your children somewhere.
It's a big circle of mess, essentially. The investment not only helps families, it helps the workers and their families because they do deserve more money. As we are exploring the Michigan Licensed Exempt Provider Program, we're really trying to take a deep dive into what we call other mothers and informal care, but the max pay for a Michigan licensed exempt informal provider is $3 per hour from the state, and the lowest amount is $1.75.
Melissa Harris-Perry: You heard me gasp there, because for those of you who don't know about this program, I just want to explain it a bit. Now, most states have a program for what are called Licensed Exempt Providers. In a more colloquial language, these are the friends, the family, the neighbors who provide care. Mostly folks who are providing home-based loving care for someone who's already in their social network, but they're not fully licensed childcare centers, but even without that, they are absolutely critical in this patchwork quilt of childcare in our country. These friends and families and neighbors do a lot of loving labor and it makes it possible for parents to work or to pick up their other kids from school or to grocery shop or just conduct life, but as Aqeela pointed out, the current state reimbursement rate for this care is way below minimum wage.
Aqeela Muntaqim: This program is meant to help families. It's supposed to be something that families who cannot afford to go to a home-based center or to a large center, they're looking for this program to help them afford to pay for a friend, a family member, or a neighbor to watch their children, but 9 times out of 10, they're not able to pay them a living wage, and $3 is not going to cut it. These folks also have to pay for their own training and fingerprinting out of pocket. You have to pay to work and get the funding, but then when you get it, it is literally pennies.
Dorian Warren: Oh, Melissa. Now I'm getting angry because all of this has me asking the question, why. Why, when we know there is an overwhelming unmet need for childcare? Why, when we know about critical brain development in the years of early childhood, or why, when we know children need joyful, fully engaged childcare providers, why don't we even pay these workers a living wage? Why is it the case that a worker at Starbucks serving coffee gets paid more than a worker providing joyful stimulating care for our kids? Why, why, why?
Melissa Harris-Perry: 93% of childcare workers are women and about half are Black, Asian American, or Latinx. I got to say, when I think about why, I suspect that those demographics are actually part of why, and that if we walk back in the history of who is supposed to be taking care of kids, we assume that it is just the natural outgrowth of women's work, that women are meant to do this work, that they primarily do it in a domestic sphere, and if they're not doing it in their own house, then they are women of color doing it in the houses of white women, and therefore who needs to pay those kinds of people a living wage?
Dorian Warren: Yes. It's all of that. How much time do we have, can we go back to 1619 and start there? It's not a coincidence the devaluation of care labor is fundamentally linked to who has historically performed that labor. Of course, it was black women for a couple centuries who did it without pay. Now, as we know, half of childcare workers are women of color. To me, it's pretty obvious when it comes to gender, when it comes to race, when it comes to class, how we historically devalue the work of the women of color and the care labor, the value super important care labor for young infants and kids in this country.
As we were talking about before the break, it just makes no sense that one can get a job for $15 an hour serving coffee, no disrespect to coffee shops, but for the valuable care of infant, and we know zero to five are the most important years from brain development, we have chosen to devalue that labor and we've tossed it off as an individual problem, not as a collective problem when we know that care is a collective act.
Melissa Harris-Perry: I just want to do one more beat on that, Dorian, because I do run into that so much. As you well know, I am a total advocate crazy lady around diapers, and diaper need in this country and how diaper need shows us so many other things. Usually, diapers are a pretty bipartisan issue, they're pretty nonideological. You talk to people about diapers, they get why people need them, but it's not that rare for me to run into folks across the ideological and partisan spectrum, who will simply say, "Look, that is the problem of families. You shouldn't have kids if you couldn't have cared for them, you shouldn't have kids if you can't put diapers on them."
We have this private right of ownership about children rather than a sense of again, childhood rearing the next generation. I couldn't do without my neighbors who are sweet and kind to my kids, and don't poison them on Halloween and the intergenerational piece and the schools that we go to. I smile at kids when I see them in the elevators because it feels to me, not like I own your kids, to be clear, but I care about what happens in their lives, and I'd like to be the kind of citizen, the kind of neighbor, the kind of contributor who makes sure that it's not just my kids who are okay, but all of our kids.
Dorian Warren: It's one of the themes of the deep dives we've been doing, Melissa, and that is a theme of linked fate, and do we see our fates somehow linked to those kids that might not be our own, but are still collectively our kids. You asked the question, are the kids all right? That is the fundamental question we should always be asking. We have to take collective policy approaches to these collective problems. These are not individual problems.
There are a whole bunch of folks that have nannies and housekeepers. They don't have a problem with other people changing their kids' diapers, they almost feel entitled to it. What would it be to imagine a different kind of system where we grounded the value of collective care and wellbeing of all of our children. That is the future I want to imagine on childcare and early learning.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Dorian, in our partnership. I like to think of you as the solutions guy. Let's hear it. What is currently on the agenda for addressing these issues?
Dorian Warren: Melissa, last week, President Biden stumped on behalf of the Human Infrastructure Bill, which is frankly the centerpiece of his Build Back Better plan. He was speaking at the Capital Child Development Center in Hartford, Connecticut. Melissa, I thought it was interesting that he made this issue so personal through a series of reflections on a difficult time that he had as a single parent.
We all know the story of the tragic death of his wife in a 1972 car accident. The president said this--
President Biden: I thought, "Well, I'll get some help," and I was making a decent salary as a US Senator, $42,000 a year. That was a decent salary, and I could not afford the childcare. Everybody wonders why I commuted every day 265 miles a day to be back and forth with my children. I could afford the train was cheaper to be able to take every day, so I could kiss my boys.
Dorian Warren: This is not just about a personal connection to the issue. The Build Back Better package has real policy interventions, Melissa. We asked Karen D'Souza, writer at EdSource, about the potential efficacy of these proposed interventions.
Karen D'Souza: It could make a tremendous difference. I mean, I think one of the interesting things about it is that it is incredibly comprehensive. There's so much in that social safety net package, from an expansion of Medicare to climate change regulations, to a lot of the really crucial early childhood tenets. One of the things that's already happened is the childcare credit. Many Americans are already receiving that. Part of the Biden reconciliation plan would make that permanent so that every family, anyone with small children, would permanently be receiving an allowance to help take care of those kids.
There's also universal preschool. I believe they're going for three and four-year-olds at this point so that there would be access to preschool for all American children. There's one more thing, it's affordable child care. We would basically cap the amount of money that a family would have to pay at about 7%, which is what many advocates and experts think is a good cut-off for how much you should have to pay towards childcare. It would also raise the amount of money a childcare worker makes per hour.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Listen, this all sounds great, but I got to say the only thing more broken than our childcare system probably is our federal legislature, and specifically the Senate. Still may need to come back around and talk about that in a deep dive. As a result, no matter how good it sounds, I just had to ask, Karen, is there any real chance of these proposals becoming law?
Karen D'Souza: That's the rub. It's an interesting moment we're in because sometimes out of a crisis is when radical change can happen. Social security probably wouldn't have happened in America if we hadn't just had the Great Depression, right? There's a lot of hope that now is the moment. On the other hand, it's a huge spending package, and there's a lot of pushback. I think many experts think that the plan is going to have to be cut down, but in many ways, it is a Sophie's choice.
All of these parts of the take care of the whole child and the whole family really work together as an integrated whole. It's going to make a big difference if some of those things get thrown under the bus, or if everything gets paired back to the extent that it doesn't really make a substantive difference. We'll kind of have to see how it goes.
Dorian Warren: Karen described the national crisis of our childcare system or lack thereof that initiated passage of many of the most powerful programs in our national social safety net. There's a long history to the childcare movement and it goes back to World War II, where mothers were organizing across race around the necessity of having child care. Especially, as we know, women started entering the workforce in big numbers during World War II. In Atlanta, there was organizing in the '50s and '60s. It got almost to a point in 1971 of legislation that would have created a national childcare system.
I just have to remind listeners, in case you didn't know, then-President Nixon, with a huge assist from his speechwriter, Pat Buchanan, vetoed that legislation. He killed that legislation, and here we are, 50 years later. Literally, 50 years later, talking about the necessity of a high-quality affordable, child care system for the first time in this country. This is the moment where we'll see if we make a down payment on that system that we so desperately need.
Melissa Harris-Perry: This is not a new problem. We have a history of at least working to try to solve it. I guess there's this question of whether or not we truly can. I think it'd be nice, we're going to leave out of our deep-dive here with the words of Aqeela Muntaqim. This vision of freedom dream. What it could look like if we did take a more collective approach to addressing this issue?
Aqeela Muntaqim: We should be reaching out to support one another. I really think that if we changed our mindset, I know it sounds corny, but the world would be a better place. We, me and my family, we live in a multi-generational home. That allows us to do a lot of things that we wouldn't be able to do if all four adults that are here were paying their own rent or mortgage somewhere. It allows us to support my mom as she ages. It allows us to lean on one another when we need it. Those who have more are able to help the folks who are struggling a little bit and vice versa. If we could have that type of mentality as a society, then it wouldn't be so hard for some folks and easier for others.
Melissa Harris-Perry: That was Aqeela Muntaqim, Michigan deputy director for Mothering Justice. We just want to say thank you to all of the voices in this deep-dive including yours. Dorian, thank you so much for the time, my friend.
Dorian Warren: Thanks so much, Melissa. Always a pleasure to be with you.
Kathleen: Hi, this is Kathleen from Brooklyn. Last year, I didn't work because of childcare issues. My child was 10 years old and learning remotely, and has learning disabilities. He wasn't able to work independently for school. This is a huge difficulty for me as a single parent. I don't live anywhere with family support. Last year almost broke me.
Lisa: Hi, this is Lisa from Morris County, New Jersey. I have an eight-year-old in elementary school that currently has a before and after school program. What we used to pay for the entire month is now what we are expected to pay weekly. This significant change in cost has caused me to have to stay home and not return to my office for my job which I hope doesn't become a problem for my job too.
Omar: Hi, this is Omar from Fort Lauderdale. I have sacrificed a lot s a parent during COVID. I didn't even want a babysitter at home getting the children at risk. They're under the age of seven, so they can't even get a vaccine yet, but my wife and I, we did get vaccinated. We've had a lot of date nights just at home, watching movies on TV, or on our smart tablets. That's sacrifice we have made during the pandemic of not getting a babysitter.
Jan: Hi, this is Jan from Grapevine, Texas. I have cut my lifestyle in half to provide childcare for my grandchildren so that their divorced father could work. It has been a struggle on many levels, but worth it to secure the well-being of my grandchildren.
Susan: Hi, this is Susan from Salem, Oregon. I'm a CASA, court-appointed special advocate. I'm a volunteer, working with kids in foster care. This year has been tough because there are fewer eyes on kids without mandatory reporting from people like teachers or coaches. It's tougher for me as a CASA to visit some of the foster homes where the kids are. It's tougher to do tracing because of confidentiality rules.
Dorian Warren: Call us at 877-8-MY-TAKE, to comment on any story, or give us your thoughts on any topic. Also, we're on Facebook and Twitter @thetakeaway. Let us know what you think, and thanks for listening.
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