No-Brainer Child-Care Programs Proving Popular

After decades of contentiousness, it’s surprising how quickly Canada’s new national child-care program has become as familiar and comfortable as your dog’s favourite squeeze-toy.

Or maybe it isn’t surprising. Why wouldn’t Canadians welcome a program that makes their lives as parents so much easier, giving them the freedom to work if they want while sparing them the exorbitant costs—often compared to a second mortgage—of child care?

Now that it’s arrived, the $30-billion national child-care program, announced by the Trudeau government last April after years of Liberal stalling and Conservative opposition, seems like a no-brainer. The aim is to provide $10-a-day child care across the country by 2026.

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Finland’s Public Childcare System Puts Britain To Shame

The autumn is a colourful time in Finland. The trees turn yellow and then red before the leaves fall. Neon pinks and yellows also appear—the reflective vests of toddlers and children venturing out to explore parks and cities with their day care teachers.

In Finland these sights are omnipresent. The country’s free or inexpensive public and private day care is, in many suburbs, so extensive that it seems every block might as well have one. This autumn, my eighteen-month-old daughter has started in hers—a city-run public day care quite close to our home.

There, for a part of the day, she will join a group of twelve equally small kids while her parents go to work or study. Among other activities, she plays with friends, goes on nature trips, and visits the library.

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Child Care Should Be Universal And Well-Paid

Queen Freelove of New Haven, Connecticut, remembers when the pandemic transformed the daycare she ran out of her home, abruptly turning the atmosphere from cozy to clinical: “Things got extremely traumatic for us,” she recalled. She was constantly trying to keep the environment sanitized, keeping a stockpile of masks, wipes, and other equipment, stopping parents in the hallway when they arrived to pick up their kids to take their temperature and give them a squirt of sanitizer — the protocol for “contactless” drop-offs and pick-ups. Keeping parents outside to minimize direct interaction, she said, was “hard, because we look forward to having that great relationship with the parents, and that really helps. But we could no longer have that relationship that we once had, because of the pandemic.”

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The Pandemic Revealed That Child Care Is Vital Work

The COVID-19 pandemic has created several shifts across the labor landscape while exposing how piecemeal family care policies have left workers in precarious situations. The closure of schools at the end of the spring semester and uneven plans for reopening this fall have prompted questions about how a society and economy can function without sustainable care work. In this interview with M.A.R.CH. co-founder Phuong Nguyen, we discuss what the Memphis-based organization has meant within the vibrant social justice scene and how developing care policies in a right-to-work state could impact the future of childcare movements, both in and out of academia.

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Child Care Workers Now Have A Huge New Union

A 17-year organizing campaign in California culminated this week in the successful unionization of 45,000 child care providers—the largest single union election America has seen in years. The campaign is a tangible achievement that brings together union power, political might, and social justice battles for racial and gender equality. Now, the hard part begins.

Child Care Providers United (CCPU), the umbrella group now representing workers across the state, is a joint project of several powerful SEIU and AFSCME locals in California.

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