The other day we were in that mad rush from daycare pickup to dinner to bed routine, and I looked over at Dave and said, “Another day is almost over.” He shot back, “You mean we’ve almost survived another day.”
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The daily struggles of working parents existed long before the pandemic, but now it’s impossible to ignore them. We’re so inspired by our friends over at Neighborhood Villages for partnering with Kristen Bell and Gloria Riviera to launch the No One is Coming to Save Us podcast. It’s a 4 part-series that breaks down how we’re all breaking down: parents, teachers, child care providers and how we can get ourselves out of it NOW because we can’t afford to wait.
How did Neighborhood Villages come to be?
Sarah and I got to know each other through a mutual friend. We both had babies right about the same time. And while we were nursing and changing diapers, we started talking about child care. We had this mutual feeling that we shouldn’t be putting this burden on families and particularly on women to figure out. So, we launched Neighborhood Villages with the purpose of doing policy work to really run straight at the childcare crisis and advocate for policy reforms that need to happen.
We don’t have time to wait anymore. We don’t even have time for bills to become laws. We need to start the work right now. The other element of Neighborhood Villages is we dive into the field. We partner with pre-existing early education and care partners. We invest in them and start to build the delivery system that we want to see. We’re working to create a system that actually works for families and also for providers and for educators.
Can you tell us a bit more about your new podcast, “No One is Coming to Save Us”?
Yeah, I think “No one is coming to save us” is sort of our ethos. And that’s also a very scrappy mom thing. We launched the podcast to explain the simplicity and the complications of the childcare crisis. People need a vocabulary and need to know that they’re part of a movement. They need to know the history of this issue and they also need to know that they don’t have to silently just get through these five years and then pretend they didn’t happen. We need to fix this broken system because our moms went through it and our daughters will go through it if no one’s coming to save us.
We’re excited to use this podcast, both as a storytelling device, but also, as a way to empower people, to really join the movement for universal affordable, child care. And we have some really good folks helping us tell the story. Gloria Riviera is incredible and does an incredible job of taking the listener through this issue in a very riveting way. We also got the phenomenal actress Kristen Bell to be a special ‘call it like it is’ correspondent. Kristen shares the problems, the solutions, all the different ways you can get involved. It’s a lot more fun to listen to her than it is to me. So we’re super excited to have her be a part of this project.
You’ve mentioned that our childcare system is completely broken. What does that mean to you? What’s broken about it?
At its core the system is a disparate set of providers doing the very, very best they can with a product that costs more than they can charge for it. They are being asked to be CPAs, magicians, facilities experts, and so many other things. And then they’re blamed when the financial model doesn’t work. There’s no profit to be made. It’s a public good at it’s very core. That’s what’s broken about it. We need to take these separate providers in different settings and make them part of a high-quality state or nationwide system where everybody has the same access to safety, to good facilities and to teachers who can just focus on providing phenomeal care who are not so stressed out about making enough money.
This is a public good so it’s time to treat it that way. We should keep our mixed delivery system, we should keep our business operators going, but we need to take what we have and turn it into a public good. And that requires public money. It costs a lot of money to offer really high quality childcare. You need a lot of adults to keep those kids safe, nurtured, and educated. And in order to have really good adults you need to pay them.
You talk about this being the moment to change the system. What can people do to get involved?
If you end every day feeling like you can’t win and that you’re not being the parent you want to be, or that you’re not being the professional that you want to be- that’s not on you, that’s on society. That’s what we are all feeling. I think step one is recognizing that you are a powerful individual. There is no one more powerful than a parent. This is a collective struggle of all parents- So, take that burden off your shoulders and put it where it belongs, which is on society.
Step two is tell your story, start talking about it with other people. It could be your story that changes somebody else’s life or perspective or interest in getting involved. Involvement can be anything from tweeting, to a Facebook group to talking with your friends to policy and advocacy work.
And I think one other thing that we can all do together is to stop hiding our children. I don’t like conflict. I don’t like to say awkward things, but I’m finally learning to say I can’t make that meeting so it should be at a different time, instead of missing the meeting. Those kinds of little things are really important and people hear you and they see you. And so when other people in your organization, see you advocating they will think ‘I can do that’. I don’t have to skip the meeting next time I can say, ‘it doesn’t work for me, that’s when I pick up my daughter.’ We have to articulate that because we’ve been really taught to hide it. We have to start telling people. No, I have a four-year-old that time doesn’t work for me so let’s reschedule the meeting.
Co-founder & COO
Bridget is mom to two little boys, Hudson and Brooks, and a champion of working moms everywhere. NeighborSchools itself was borne out of Bridget’s challenge to find high-quality yet affordable child care, and the realization that so many parents struggle with these same issues every day.