BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Child care providers, parents, and families are rallied together n Buffalo Monday as part of a Nation Day of Action called "A Day without Child Care".
“The funding is crucial. The funding is not flagrant or luxury — it is a critical need to keep our doors open,” remarked Vonetta Rhoades, childhood education professional.
Providers across the nation are calling it a "crisis" saying they are dealing with staffing shortages in an industry that pays poverty wages.
- Average annual costs for child care for an infant $13,390 a year
- More than half of New Yorkers, 56% of parents report limited access to child care and impacts ability to keep a steady job
- Low pay for child care providers with at least 65% of child care workforce receiving some type of public benefit due to their low wages
“What we have presently is a system that's not working anybody,” explained Maria Whyte, Erie County deputy county executive.
While child care providers across 27 States, including Washington, D.C., are closed for a one-day strike to demonstrate, providers here in the Buffalo Niagara region are open, but joining forces at a Monday evening rally.
The demonstrations call on the federal government to provide action to support living wages for childcare providers, create an equitable childcare system built on racial justice and make childcare affordable for all families.
WNY Child Care Action Team and the WNY Women's Foundation hosted a zoom news conference to call on the federal government to provide action.
"They are the second lowest-paid occupation n the state. Most of them getting paid minimum wage," noted Sheri Scavone, CEO, WNY Women's Foundation.
“Do you really expect them to come forward with something substantial that will get those three bullet points accomplished?" Buckley asked.
“We are certainly pushing Senator Schumer as part of the empire campaign on child care and all of these collaborative and coalition efforts, really pushing him to put something on the floor before the end of the session and begin to invest in universal child care,” responded Scavone.
Providers say they are dealing with the worst staffing shortages ever in an industry that pays poverty wages.
“We’re, right now, experiencing the highest sustainability hardship since the beginning of child care in the United State’s and it was the 1930s — it started,” declared Sophia Mado, long-time daycare operator.
Those who work as childhood educators say daycare staff is overworked and underpaid.
“I’m writing lesson plans. “I’m looking — watching over at least 18 to 20 toddlers — including diaper changes — everybody understands what that is,” explained Deidra Emel, early childhood educator.
“It’s not working for child care providers who are among the lowest two percent of wage earners in the entire economy,” Whyte stated.
Providers and advocates say troubles in the daycare industry have been brewing for decades, but the pandemic pushed it over the edge.
“Now roughly 1,500 care providers closed in just first year of pandemic New York State, so this issue has only gotten worse,” Courtney Ball, WNY Regional Director for U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
The child care ripple effect has harmed the economy. Last year the pandemic forced more than two million working moms out of jobs.
Many families are begging for affordability.
“I am the primary caregiver for my father, my three girls, the director of operations for a not-for-profit organization, and a wife — I would absolutely benefit from child care, however, it’s too expensive,” replied parent Andrea minor.
A local march and rally were staged Monday at the Delaware Park Playground behind the Albright Knox Art Gallery. Demonstrators marched to Elmwood Avenue in front of the Buffalo History Museum waving signs to show solidarity and draw attention to the crisis.
Following the rally, an event with speakers was held inside the museum.