10-25-2020 Women to Watch - Flipbook - Page 38
CAN WE TALK ABOUT
Society has been slowly realizing that day care
is an economic problem, not a women’s issue.
That was before the pandemic.
By Mary Carole McCauley
hanea Napper’s distress is evident in every
line of the email she sent to Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young.
“There is no way I can go to work and homeschool my 8-year-old son, and I cannot afford to pay
someone to do it,” wrote Napper, a 35-year-old mother who made ends meet with two custodial jobs.
“There are many single parents like me that need
to know what can we do so we don’t have to choose
between working and our kids’ learning. I DESPERATELY NEED SOME HELP WITH THIS.”
The coronavirus may be the dening crisis of our
generation. It has exposed and widened the ssures
in the nation’s social terrain, including America’s bifurcated child care system. Every U.S. child between
the ages of 5 and 18 is entitled to attend school for
free. But child care is a for-prot enterprise for which
most parents must pay, and pay dearly — when they
can nd it.
Experts say there’s been a gradual but growing realization over the past two decades that child care is
an economic problem that crosses genders, races and
income levels. Democratic presidential nominee Joe
Biden recently unveiled a $775 billion proposal to x
the child care system, the rst time a male candidate
has made that issue a major part of his presidential
“America bailed out the banks and the housing
market,” said Tisha Edwards, director of the Mayor’s
WO M E N T O WAT C H
Ofce of Children & Family Success. “Why can’t we
bail out the child care industry?”
According to “Child Care Demographics 2020,” a
report prepared by the Maryland Family Network,
78.9% of children in the state younger than 12 years
old had a mother who worked outside the home in
That amounts to 844,563 kids vying for just
213,960 available slots in licensed child care homes
and day care centers. You don’t have to be a former
math teacher like Maryland Del. Eric D. Ebersole to
know those gures don’t add up.
“We have to realize this is a situation that might
come around again,” said Ebersole, a Democrat who
represents Baltimore and Howard counties and
chairs the House’s early childhood education subcommittee. “The pandemic might not be the only
time that kids in Maryland stay home while learning
remotely via laptop computers and other devices.”
When people become parents, he said, they begin
to question the logic behind America’s two-tier system.
“Child care centers are not like public schools,”
Ebersole said. “They are not an entitlement that’s
automatically supplied by the government. They are
In every Maryland county, child care consistently
ranks among the top three household expenses, according to the demographics report. In 2019, child
care gobbled up between 17% and 32.8% of the average household income. In Baltimore City and Balti-
more County, child care ranked No. 1, outstripping
even housing payments and taxes.
The average weekly cost of child care statewide
in 2019 ranged from $99 to $309 a child, the report
The child care crisis is so pervasive that it affects
even high-income families.
Jessica Lee is an obstetrician for the University
of Maryland Medical Center, and her husband is an
economist for the federal government. When the
pandemic struck, they were the parents of a 3-monthold son. Luckily, Lee’s in-laws, who were visiting from
Germany, cared for the baby during working hours.