Child Care Workers, Parents and Supporters Raise the Alarm about the Child Care Crisis and Share a Vision for a Better Future.

Child care white paper release presser 06-13-24

On Thursday, June 13th, Chicago child care workers rallied with parents at the Center for New Horizons Effie Ellis location to raise the alarm about the city’s growing child care crisis. They were joined by supporters from the Worker Center for Racial Justice, Grassroots Collaborative, Chicago Teachers Union, COFI, Women Gathering in Justice; and city council members Matt Martin, Ruth Cruz, Byron Sigcho-lopez, Feliz Cardona, and Sam Nugent.

The child care center where the rally was held is one of the few remaining in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago—a predominantly Black neighborhood and chronic child care desert where over 2,400 children do not have access to licensed care. Despite the high need, the Bronzeville child care site has been forced to close half its classrooms due to a worker shortage. “We must remain ever mindful of the impact that this [has] on the families of the South Side. They are relying on us to find an innovative solution to this crisis,” said Lakisha McFadden, CEO of the Centers for New Horizons.

Workers and supporters called on the city to support their campaign for Child Care for All, and to invest in a universal child care and early learning system that would ensure every child in Chicago has the best start in life. 

Child care workers, parents, children and supporters

They also announced the release of a new report that highlights how low pay and inadequate funding of the child care system has led to a severe child care shortage that is impacting children and families across the city. 

Every region of the city has fewer than 50% of the licensed child care and early learning slots needed for children under 5 who have working parents, leaving more than 78,536 children in Chicago without access to licensed care.

But why is there such a gap between the amount of child care slots needed and the amount available? Because in recent years, child care providers–many of whom are required to have college degrees–have been leaving in droves for jobs in other industries that pay more yet require less in terms of training and licensing. 

“Child care workers and preschool teachers make even less than other jobs in the Chicago area that are also underpaid–like bus and truck drivers, retail, and warehouse jobs,” said Erica Bland, EVP of SEIU Healthcare Illinois.

Doris Milton, Head Start teacher

Doris Milton, who has been a Head Start teacher for 45 years, loves what she does and is proud of the difference she’s been able to make in the lives of children and families. But she says it’s getting harder and harder to stay in this work: “People do not make the decision to leave lightly either. My former coworkers have come to me crying, saying they love this job so much and they love these kids but they simply can’t support their families because of low pay. It stresses us out every day, when bills come in and we can’t pay them.” 

Alderman Matt Martin (47th Ward), Alderwoman Ruth Cruz (30th Ward) and April Janney, CEO of Illinois Action for Children, ended by calling on city leaders to take bold action to address the crisis through investments into the child care system. These investments would raise wages for child care workers, make care more affordable and accessible for families, and create a pipeline of early education teachers that would address the workforce shortages. 

Check out the livestream of the event here. 

Do you want to see our vision for a child care system that supports children, parents and teachers become a reality? Join the Child Care For All Campaign today.