Making childcare more accessible

Bloomberg Equality
Bloomberg

This week's top headlines:

  • President-elect Joe Biden promised to act on issues including racial justice, housing and LGBTQ rights, but he might be hemmed in by Republicans who may well hold the Senate.
  • Vice President-elect Kamala Harris meanwhile is giving America a second family full of firsts, and Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives and candidate for governor, is once again in the national spotlight.
  • In Europe, a series of jihadist attacks in France and Vienna catapulted the fight against terrorism to the top of political agendas, and stoked concerns about the stigmatizing of Muslims.

With all the focus on the presidential election, it's easy to miss some of the local and state ballot measures passed last week in the U.S. One area that stands out is childcare.

In Oregon's Multnomah County, which includes the city of Portland, parents with children ages 3 and 4 will soon have access to free universal preschool paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy. In Colorado, voters approved a 12-week paid family and medical leave law, joining eight other states and D.C. with similar laws on the books. Early education ballot measures also passed in cities like St. Louis and San Antonio.

The ballot initiatives come as the pandemic has underscored just how dire the childcare situation has become across America, where unlike in many countries in Europe or Asia, there's no federal paid parental leave policy nor universal preschool.

Nearly 22 million workers in the U.S. have a child under the age of 6, and when COVID-19 forced schools and childcare centers to close, parents faced the impossible choice of continuing to work or caring for their kids. Businesses suffered, productivity fell, and many parents were driven out of the workplace, or illegally fired. It was clear that the lack of childcare was even more of an economic issue than a social one.

Drisana Rios was fired in June after her boss complained that her 1-year-old was making noise during conference calls.

Photographer: Ariana Drehsler/Bloomberg

During his campaign, President-elect Joe Biden pledged to a $775 billion overhaul on caregiving in the U.S. over 10 years by rolling back tax breaks on the wealthy. That includes free, nationwide preschool for 3 and 4 year-olds and offering a $8,000child care tax credit for low income and middle class families.

But Biden won't be able to accomplish any of his pledges alone: To get anything resembling his plan done, Biden is going to need to forge a coalition of bipartisan lawmakers who not only agree with him but make childcare a priority at a time when a still-raging pandemic and unstable economy top the headlines.

The hope is that the local and state measures can serve as a good start — and a good example — of how inextricably tied making childcare more accessible to more people is to jump-starting the economy.

By the Numbers

Aerospace has a ways to go in becoming a welcoming environment for women. That's according to a new study by Korn Ferry of more than 1,500 workers in the sector. Just 6% thought the representation of women had increased significantly in the past five years.

The sector has long been male-dominated, and as the pandemic requires many companies to focus on survival, there are fears diversity could slip down the agenda.

 

Before You Go

  • Across America, cheap credit — for those who qualify — is widening wealth inequality, often along racial lines. That yawning gap is among the biggest challenges Biden will face now that the pandemic has accelerated the divisions in an already divided America.
  • Nearly six months after it was ransacked in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing, the Target Corp. store in South Minneapolis is re-opening. The overhaul forms part of what executives at the retailer describe as an effort to improve its image with Black customers.
  • CBS will require 50% of casts of unscripted programs to be non-White, after years of criticism that shows like "Survivor" seemed to condone racism and didn't represent minorities well enough. The changes are part of a broader reckoning over the way media companies treat minorities on-screen and off.

 

 

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