On August 19, parents and providers gathered with elected officials in front of Amazon to highlight the low wages and high provider turnover fueling the current child care crisis. Right now, Amazon and other major corporations pay NOTHING in state corporate income tax, while child care providers are struggling to get by.
With signs contrasting the poverty wages that most child care providers in Illinois make with Jeff Bezos’ billions of dollars in wealth, we called for corporations to pay their fair share and fund Child Care for All, a universal public child care system where all parents can afford to pay and providers can afford to stay in the industry.
Child care providers called for bold changes to the current child care system. “I had to have surgery. I was only able to take off a week with no pay. No benefits. And I had to go back to work because my parents depend on me. Working parents. So it’s either go back to work and provide child care, or families lose their jobs,” said Pam Franks, a child care provider and SEIU Healthcare Illinois member with a Master’s degree in early childhood education.
Representative Theresa Mah, Alderman Matt Martin, and 1st State Senate district candidate Javier Cervantes also pledged their support for the Child Care for All coalition. “We have a system that is unsustainable because child care workers are not making enough money to support their families. We’re seeing an average of $13 an hour for workers that take care of our children… And that number decreases when you think about all the times they stay after hours waiting for parents to pick up their kids, or taking care of kids that need extra help,” said Theresa Mah, state representative for Illinois’ Second District. “We need to fight for universal childcare for all, we need to expand CCAP further, and we need to hold these corporate entities accountable, make sure that they pay taxes so that we can have child care for all.”
Child care providers spoke to the challenges of navigating the current system and called for Amazon and other major corporations to fund the long-overdue investment in child care workers. “I have multiple degrees in early childhood education and multiple student loans. It’s a shame that child care workers are not able to support their families on our low wages,” said Theresa Herbert, an SEIU Healthcare Illinois member. “…If child care jobs were good jobs, with good paying benefits, I would be able to save for retirement and stay in this field without worrying about my student loans and debt.