Child-care workers and advocates came out to about 90 playgrounds, T stops, and public squares across Massachusetts Monday to talk to parents and community members about the importance of their work and advocate for publicly funded universal early childhood education.
The actions were part of a “Day Without Child Care,” a national day of action for child-care workers. Some providers closed their doors for the day or for a few hours, and others rallied, called elected officials, or encouraged their families to support legislation that supports them.
“Our economy can’t run without child care,” said Latoya Gayle, senior director of advocacy at the Neighborhood Villages Action Fund, an education advocacy organization that helped organize events in Massachusetts. “And it should be treated as a public good.”
She acknowledged that many providers kept operating Monday.
“The reality is that most providers weren’t comfortable closing the door for the day,” she said. “Their families are really important to them. Their work is really important to them, and they want to be there for their families.”
Child care in Massachusetts is both prohibitively expensive for families and not able to provide high enough wages for workers, according to a study released in March by a state legislative commission. Infant care costs more than $20,000 a year, according to the study, meaning families spend 30 percent more on child care for pre-kindergarten children than they do on rent.
Still, child-care workers’ average annual salary was a little over $30,000 a year. The study’s authors recommended $1.5 billion in improvements.
“We really need our government to find the will, because we have the money, to say, this is important,” Gayle said. “It’s important for our child’s development. It’s important for our economy to run. It’s important for our families, especially our mothers, to be able to enter and stay in the workforce. And we’re going to treat it as such.”
Gayle said the child-care providers and advocates who came to playgrounds and town squares Monday encouraged the people they spoke with to tell their state legislators to support legislation known as “Common Start,” written to raise the wages of child-care employees while limiting what families pay for their work.
“There are so many people who are actively raising young children. And they can’t do what they need to do without child care,” Gayle said.
Gal Tziperman Lotan is a former Globe staff member.