Child care

(Huyen Tran Tran / Daily Titan) 

A blaring alarm drives a mother out of her comfortable bed in a frenzy. Another day running around the clock epitomizes her role as a nurturing heroine. Many mothers are juggling double duties including child care, work and household chores. Fathers tend to lend a helping hand, but mothers still bear the brunt. They are both swamped and overburdened, in hopes of seeking stability under one seemingly crumbling roof.  

Parenthood couldn’t be any more disorderly than during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, day care offers parents an opportunity to shift their focus to a multitude of unfinished tasks. 

Child care is the life force that paves the way for parents to devote countless hours to their jobs without interruption, which keeps business flourishing and boosts the economy. COVID-19 has halted these processes and rid parents of any sense of normalcy. 

Once day care is prioritized for American families, much-needed relief will be possible for struggling parents.      

At some schools, child care programs and service organizations are providing temporary or emergency services for parents who are essential workers, first responders, healthcare workers and those in other kinds of occupations who cannot work from home, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

In the United States, there are 3.45 million children who are in desperate need of day care, ranging from newborns to 11-year-olds, according to the Child Care Aware of America’s February 2020 database. In California alone, nearly 310,000 seemingly disadvantaged children are caught in a web of uncertainty.  

To combat this, state and local child care licensing policies and regulations are enacted to safeguard children and caregivers from contracting COVID-19. Although there are no group size or children-to-caregiver ratio restrictions in California, child care programs typically operate with a maximum of about the same 10 to 12 children. 

While abiding by social distancing guidelines, the CDC urges facilities to postpone holiday events, establish playground times and ensure that children’s naptime mats or cribs are distanced 6 feet apart.

Child care programs are basic to early childhood development, as it molds everything from an adult’s brain volume to reading proficiency. Katica Roy, a gender economist said, “That has an impact on our future labor force and their economic potential, which ultimately is tied to our country’s economic potential.  

Overwhelmed and distressed about handling their child’s development and work demands, parents are faced with the decision to either utilize these services or drown in responsibilities and overload themselves with work. 

Many parents have been left with no alternative but to sacrifice unpaid time off, further digging a deeper hole of financial despair. Above all, society’s intrinsic expectation for mothers, in particular, to oversee pinpointed day-to-day details, results in a heap of anxieties.

Their children’s futures are on the line, calling for prioritization. 

But even before the pandemic, child care hung on a thread. Along with the complicated circumstances that COVID-19 has introduced to these facilities, the industry is also being stifled by policymakers, including the Senate’s seemingly apathetic behavior. 

When the coronavirus relief package expired, the House ascended the Child Care is Essential Act in July. 

“The Child Care is Essential Act would stabilize the child care sector and support providers to reopen and operate. It also would provide needed relief to protect child care workers, support working families, and improve the safety of child care facilities,” said Nita M. Lowey, a House appropriations committee chairwoman.

In response to the act, the Senate curbed it, thereafter causing a domino effect of parents undertaking the teacher role while businesses remain shuttered and the economy continues to plummet. The Senate’s indifference to suffering communities revealed no immediate relief on the horizon. 

Deemed essential to America’s recovery by Republicans and Democrats, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initiated an updated Heros Act in September, which includes $57 billion in emergency funding for the child care industry. Although politicians are optimistic about the new economic relief package, several child care centers are on the brink of collapsing. It has become questionable whether mountains of money will help save the industry.

If legislators purposefully hamper progress being made for distressed families, those same families have every right to feel disheartened and cynical of their supposedly trustworthy leaders.

Anxiety and all-consuming stress are the only facets working parents have known throughout COVID-19’s disastrous nature. 

Parents can only multitask so much, and providing child care for every working parent will help take some of the weight off their shoulders.

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