Guest Op-Ed: The Need for Universal Childcare
By Anthony D’Ambrosio
The Covid-19 pandemic has produced staggering disruptions to education and childcare. As a member of the Revere School Committee, I have seen these challenges firsthand. Over the past year and a half, I have spoken with dozens of parents who made the tremendously difficult decision to quit their jobs—sacrificing half or even the entirety of their household income—in order to provide care and educational support to their suddenly homebound children.
Unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 educational and childcare disruptions have disproportionately impacted female parents and caregivers. Woman comprised 80% of people who exited the labor market in September of 2020—when virtual schooling restarted for most students in the United States. These job losses resulted in the lowest percentage of U.S. women in the workforce since 1988. The disparities are even more stark for women of color. While pandemic recovery efforts have prompted job gains, even the most optimistic economists do not project a return to pre-pandemic levels of employment for women until at least 2024. Additionally, two-thirds of surveyed Massachusetts employers cite lack of childcare as a primary barrier to re-entry into the state’s workforce.
This is unacceptable. No one should ever have to choose between caring for their child and putting food on the table. I firmly believe that universal childcare in Massachusetts is fundamental to achieving gender equity in the state, expediting our state’s recovery from Covid-19, and making our state more resilient in the face of future disruptions. The Covid-19 pandemic has only underscored the need for a universal childcare and pre-K program in Massachusetts. Such programs are not simply equitable, they make good business sense for our long-term economic growth.
The reality is that today, women continue to shoulder the brunt of childcare and household responsibilities. State legislators are not doing enough to support the thousands of Massachusetts parents—especially mothers—who will forfeit years of income as our state continues to rebound from Covid-19.
I assure you that I will seek new, alternative ways of solving this problem. While complicated, with renewed energy and focus, it can be done. Please join me.
Anthony D’Ambrosio, BA, Yale, Masters, University of Cambridge, and Candidate for State Senate.