A Day Without Child Care (with Wendoly Marte)

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Gloria starts with an emotional reaction to the leaked Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Then, she calls up Wendoly Marte, the economic justice director at Community Change, to talk about the organization’s upcoming event, A Day Without Child Care. Wendoly tells us what they’re fighting for, what will be going down on May 9th, and how you can get involved in this national day of action. Plus, Gloria gives us an exciting update on the fight for child care reform in Alabama.

Learn how you can get involved in A Day Without Child Care: daywithoutchildcare.org.

Follow Wendoly Marte on Twitter @wendolymarte.

This podcast is presented by Neighborhood Villages, and is brought to you with generous support from Imaginable FuturesCare For All Children by the David and Laura Merage Foundation, and Spring Point Partners.

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Gloria Riviera, Wendoly Marte

Gloria Riviera  00:09

This is No One Is Coming To Save Us from Lemonada Media. I’m your host Gloria Riviera. Normally as you guys know, we start episodes with a voice memo from my week in childcare. But sadly, the world has turned upside down in a horrible way. With the recently leaked draft published by Politico of a Supreme Court decision that could, in as little as two months overturn nearly 50 years, 50 years of Roe versus Wade, a woman’s right to choose choice. That is what we as women, and we as a country stand to lose. The stats show that one in four women will get an abortion. I know, and I love many, many one in fours. I remember thinking that I might be pregnant in my early 20s living in New York City. I knew then pretty immediately what I would do, and I appreciated pretty immediately the choice I had, but I was born a year after Roe was decided. So like many of us I was raised with choice. I don’t know a world without it. As a reporter for years I covered the pro-choice and the pro-life movement equally. I know this has been a decade’s long political fight, a calculated slow moving precise campaign state to state across this country. Collectively, it celebrated small victories, but kept its eye on the prize. It can be traced back to Ronald Reagan. Do you remember from season one, he is the one who bullied Nixon to veto universal childcare and early education. Reagan became pro-life as a candidate, got him a lot of votes. And now that very wrong prize, the pro-life movement has had its ion, it’s here. Remember, the law has not changed. It has been reaffirmed by justices on both sides of the aisle for decades. Just as Sandra Day O’Connor, for example, appointed by Ronald Reagan, there are more no one would pull the ripcord no one would cast that vote to overturn Roe v Wade. What happened here is in large part political, it is the intentional seating of jurists who would pull the ripcord that pro-life prize has profound implications for child care in this country. The very question at the heart of the abortion debate, can you take care of your child? It is the very question every woman should be able to ask an answer for herself. Can I do this? That is the choice we are fighting to keep that one in four women typically in her 20s unmarried low income already the mother of one child, often already struggling with childcare. And now we’re set to take away her choice to have another child. I’m sorry, I have I’ve been unwittingly cast in The Handmaid’s Tale. This is messed up in the context of an overburdened childcare and early education system. What would this do? Listen, I want to tell you, you can’t and don’t go that don’t think about that. Because it’s bad. But we have to. We will have more on this. I promise right now what I want to tell you, listeners, I am reaching through this screen to hold your hand. Okay. Okay. So let’s turn to today’s show. Maybe we all need to collectively exhale. It is May. Can you believe it? Here we are. You guys getting ready for summer? Figuring out how you’re going to juggle cobbled together childcare and camps and babysitters while School’s out. I see you. But I’m also, I’m really excited for me because there is a very special event coming up on May 9, a day without childcare. It is a national day of action. Parents, providers and activists all across the country are going to come together to demand an equitable, affordable childcare system that most importantly, pays child care providers a living wage. It is so essential. When I heard about this event, I knew we had to do obviously an episode about it. So that everyone out there listening all of you can get involved. And that is why I’m speaking to Wendoly Marte, today. She is the economic justice director at community change. It’s an organization the one behind a day without childcare. If I had to describe Wendoly in one word, I would choose energetic, which I love. You can feel it she’s happy passionate about child care reform.

Gloria Riviera  05:03

She’ll tell me about growing up in the Dominican Republic, how she was literally raised by a village, and how that influenced her ideas about childcare today. Wendoly doesn’t have kids of her own yet, but she says she is in this fight in part, for selfish reasons she wants, she’s dedicating her work her life’s work to creating a better childcare system so that she and other future parents don’t have to struggle in the same way. Parents are struggling now and have been for decades. She’ll tell us all about a day without childcare, what they are fighting for, what will be going down on May 9, and how you can get involved. Remember, it is a national day of action. So chances are, there is something happening where you are. But before we get into that conversation with Wendy Lee, I just want to give you all a very exciting update. This is massive. So last week, I spoke with Camille Bennett, the amazing activist and childcare center owner in Alabama. If you have not listened to that episode yet, please go check it out. When you’re done with this one. Camille and I talked about Alabama’s broken childcare subsidy system. I needed to be educated on that. We looked at how the state only pays providers, the tuition for kids on subsidies on the days they actually attend. It’s also known as attendance-based compensation. So if a kid gets sick or is exposed to COVID and has to quarantine, well, guess what that provider is, SOL, they are not getting paid until that child is back in the classroom. So even though the state has the money, the money is there to pay for these kids every single day. Whether they are there or not. They don’t. It’s so wrong. Right? I mean, talk about head scratcher. Okay, so here’s the good news. That’s all going to change very soon. Yeah, change. Right after that episode came out. Camille, let us know that Alabama decided to get rid of those, quote, awful machines. That’s the swipe card system that kept track of attendance for kids on subsidies. And now Alabama, will start paying providers based on enrollment, not attendance, starting July 1st. That’s a huge win you guys. Congrats to Camille and all the people who helped make that happen. Change is possible. And this is proof. Let’s keep that momentum going. Okay, here’s my conversation with Wendoly Marte. I want to talk about a day without childcare, which is the event that’s coming up and I want to know all about it. I also want to know when the late what it looked for you growing up, and how your care was managed, how you think about that now, as an adult, what was your early experience like with that in your family?

Wendoly Marte  08:16

I would like to say that I was I was actually until I was 11. I was raised in the Dominican Republic. So I had a very different, I think, not so different, but somewhat different experience. My mom had to come here when I was really young. And so she was undocumented. And I was raised by my grandmother primarily, but also my aunts, and a very big, small community.

Gloria Riviera 

Right, but sort of like a lot of people. Was it more of a village?

Wendoly Marte 

Yeah, I was literally raised by a village. And it took all of that, you know, took all of that for my mom to be comfortable enough to be able to leave and look for other opportunities to be able to support me and our family. And I think having my grandmother raised me, it’s one of the greatest, you know, if not the greatest thing that ever happened to me, because I feel like I, I grow into, like being a person who was what to sort of, like, mature in many ways really early. And like I still had to experience the joys of childhood I still had, you know, I still got to play, I still got to do all those things. And I got to do it in an environment that was really safe. And that wouldn’t have been possible though, if my mom hadn’t been working so hard to be able to send money back home. And you know, I remember very distinctly when I first came here, and I moved in with my mom for the first time, obviously loving and like having to take like I knew how to take care of myself in many ways like, by the time that it was just the two of us, because I had all this support growing up from my grandmother and my aunts and, you know, a whole bunch of folks in the community that really put in the work to be able to support me.

Gloria Riviera  10:14

Well, I want to hear about everything that you do. And I’ve listened to you on some other podcasts. And I’m so impressed with your energy and your devotion and your passion and your awareness of the child care crisis in this country. Where are you now with your work on child care and tell us a little bit about what you do in your role?

Wendoly Marte 

Well, I have to say, this is one of the most exciting fights that I’ve ever been in. And I think in part is because there’s just so much energy from the base my energy is doesn’t even compare to the energy that we get every day from the providers and the parents, mostly moms of color, and providers of color. Mostly women of color across the board, that feel really passionate about this, because they live this every day from one angle or the other. Right, they’re either the ones that have to care about, have to worry about the care of their children, and all that comes with that, I’m making sure that they find culturally relevant care, affordable care, accessible care, or the experience of the providers, which I’ve learned a lot more about over the last couple of years, you know, like the crisis was real before the pandemic, and it only got worse. Yeah, and I don’t have kids of my own yet. But I have a two-year-old nephew and another one coming that I spend a lot of time with that I have to manage a lot of cheer around. And it’s you know, just like the sheer, it takes so much to support a little one, in everything that they need. And I think that like, you know, this is about the kids, this is about the moms, this is about the women that are trying to make it work for themselves and their families. And that in itself is enough, you know, for me to, to kind of be in this fight. And to be really excited about it.

Gloria Riviera  12:19

I want to hear about May 9, and I want to hear about the kinds of events that you organize, you talk about this energy that you’re feeling. My interest right now is how we harness that energy and what it looks like out in the streets at your legislators office. So tell me about what you’re doing and where you see that energy manifesting?

Wendoly Marte 

I would say that this is a culmination of many years of organizing that have gotten us to this moment, right? I think what we’ve experienced, you know, when we first started doing this work, you asked about sort of like, where are we in this sort of the arc of the work that we’ve been doing. And when we started, we started very local, we started working with their national organization, but we work with grassroots organizations across the country that have a direct, you know, relationship to folks that are directly impacted by these issues. And so we started working directly with those organizations.

Gloria Riviera 

With an eye on the whole country. So local communities across the country. And your seat is in the Bronx, right? Or queens?

Wendoly Marte 

I’m based in the Bronx. And we have, you know, our team is sort of made up of organizers that are all over the country, that’s always sort of been part of our theory of change that people need to be where the work is at, and be connected to the local communities that we support. And so we started the work from that perspective of really wanting to bring people into the fight, and then started to support a lot of these local and state fights to get more money into childcare, some about like getting new revenue, and mix of like pre-K expansion fights, you know, and different things like that. And then that the you know, the idea was, we know that there’s something here, we know that there’s a crisis that requires federal action, but we need to sort of set the stage at the local level to be able to make this sort of stronger collective case nationally.

Gloria Riviera  14:27

And why because you think the message is going to come from the local level and rise up, right, okay, you’re nodding your head. So you need to coordinate everyone’s message to use a much-overused phrase, get everybody on the same page. So the message that’s reaching the federal level is the same.

Wendoly Marte

That’s right. Okay. You know, obviously there are particular circumstances that are unique to two locations, right. So there are things that are more important to some places than others because access varies. And affordability varies across the board. But I think the overall things that we found, and the sort of messages that really sort of have resonated across all of these local and state fights is that we need to address the issue of pay equity, and access, and, and making sure that the providers that do the work, the people that do the work of caring for our kids are actually valued for that really important work that they get paid living wages that they have, you know, benefits, that the small businesses that are winning on actually gets to succeed and get all the supports that they need, that there’s professional, you know, development there is available to them, that we need access to all families, and that includes, you know, just broader affordability across the board, but making it just more accessible and more affordable to families at sort of lower income levels, that there needs to be a racial justice, racial equity lens that are sort of applied across the board, because we want universal, we want an equitable universal system that works for every family, but we know that we need to also target and start with the families that are at the sort of have the biggest need. And so really focusing on low-income families of color, and this low-income workforce that so much needs relief. And so, you know, there’s some variations of that.

Gloria Riviera  16:33

So when you take that message for saw, where do you actually take it? Who are you talking to at the federal level? And what response are you getting,

Wendoly Marte 

I would say it’s an it’s a mixed bag, but what I’ve, you know, worked on other issues, and I can say that the one thing that is really unique, as an organizer, I will say that the ideal kind of issue is one that is in some way, you know, a little polarizing, but there’s a little controversy, and that there’s a very clear kind of villain, you know, like we like opposition, because opposition creates friction, and that creates momentum, and then you can like target them and, you know, direct attention and energy and be able to point to them as sort of like the actor that’s not doing what they need to be doing. And with this issue, it’s a little more complicated, right, because I think across the board, across political sort of spectrum, you’ll see that there’s fast support for childcare, and what we’ve experienced with a lot of the sort of, like, there isn’t like a clear villain, you know, and, you know, just as an example, when I, you know, working on healthcare, which I’ve worked on for a long time, like, there was always the insurance company, there’s always sort of like a target to aim the energy at and get them to act. And with childcare, really, the opposition is, is sort of like, it’s like a bigger and kind of like my curl, or rather macro sort of narrative, right, like sort of mainstream, what sort of like the mainstream story about care work. And in particular, they’re sort of like, the who deserves flat and the value of the of the job itself of the work of care itself. And there’s an there’s so many gender, there’s so many gender undertones that come with that. And the fight that we’ve been sort of in has been about moving childcare from this, what we sort of say, often like the second-tier sort of issue in terms of public attention to a first-tier issue, so moving up the ranks in terms of priority that needs to be taken in terms of public policy, and public investments. So that has been our biggest fight. Like it’s sort of like changing the perception that this is an issue that is up to the states or is sort of like up to the individual to figure it out. And really sort of moving the conversation to this point where it’s actually a public responsibility because childcare should be a public good and it should be accessible and available and affordable to everybody.

Gloria Riviera 

When we come back Windley will tell me how you can get involved in a day without childcare.

Gloria Riviera 

How do you manage competing policies, right? So I’m thinking of parental leave, if you’re trying to change the perception of child care, right? And then extreme would be like, oh, that’s you’re handing your child to a stranger. Why would you do that? Except, you know, that is, sadly, a perception that’s vocalized, in many states across the country, but we have child care, we believe in it. How do you place that on the chessboard along with parental leave, along with these other things that kind of fall into the basket of public goods that support families?

Wendoly Marte  20:41

Yeah, I would say that this is a very common thing that happens. In terms of I think this is how we lose so many public battles, public fights, it’s when our issues are pinned against each other. Or we’ve been very clear from the beginning, that what we’re actually trying to build as a caring economy. And so the way that we lean into the work of childcare is sort of like, it’s one part of what actually needs to happen to make an economy that actually works for all of us that centers care and actually values, the job that it’s put into it. And so childcare is just a piece of it, it just happens to be our piece of it. And, you know, we’re in solidarity with a lot of the local and national fights for paid leave, for long term care. I think they’re really important. And they need to be fights that are sort of parallel and continue to be complementary to each other. And so we’re very clear that we’re not trying to pin these issues against each other. And it’s really, we’re trying to build a story.

Gloria Riviera 

When you say, you’re in front of a lawmaker who’s been fighting, fighting, fighting for parental leave, you know, how do you make your case to that person, like make room for child care.

Wendoly Marte

So you know, we’ve actually run up against this also, because we’ve been really a sort of part of the fight over the last few years around this conversation around the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. And I think that there’s this constant sort of tension between the things that are sort of that allow people to, to make their own decisions about the things that they need. And the kinds of public policy that is more sort of like directive in terms of like, you have to qualify, go through these to access. And, you know, for us, I think the way that we think about these issues is that you need a complementary approach of both things, you need the kinds of things that are actually about choice that give families the right kinds of choices, so that they’re not cornered into having to make really hard decisions. Because we know that if somebody’s spending too much of their money on childcare, that means that they’re having to make choices about the kinds of jobs that they’re willing to take the schedules that they have to adhere to the kinds of family supports that then they have to, you know, work around themselves. You know, a lot of parents, particularly moms that sort of like in that sandwich generation, where they have to worry about a care for an elderly parent or family member, and then they also have to care about their kids, or grandmas that are sort of constantly can for their partner or someone else and then also caring for their grandkids. You know, there’s sort of like, there is no, the way the families that a single person actually lives, these issues is very interconnected, they don’t come from mentalize them the way that we tend to compartmentalize public policy. And so I think for us is a matter of, we have to invest in all of these systems. And for us, you know, like childcare is sort of like critical, because our economy literally runs on it.

Gloria Riviera 

Wendoly, let me ask you this, where do you get this energy, most of the people we talked to, on this show, do have their own kids and do have their own experience with what it is like to have little ones. But this energy that you’re putting into your work is so extraordinary, and I want to hear about what that looks like when you plan something like a day without care.

Wendoly Marte  24:19

Yeah, I would say, you know, my nephew that I mentioned […] is sort of like at the core of it, you know, we’re actually right now trying to figure out his care, because it’s time to put him into care so that his mom can do other things. It’s sort of like, she’s at that point of having to make a really hard choice about like, does she continue to stay at home when she can’t afford to with him and having to care? You know, think about his care outside of that. And just, you know, the family structure that she has is not enough because we all work. And It’s a very different lifestyle to was back in the Dominican Republic and the two of us grew up together there. So she’s sort of reflecting, we’re reflecting together a lot about, you know, if you weren’t Dr. It would be a very different story about the choices that you would have to make. And I think for me, energy is just, you know, I remember very distinctly this moment in 2018, which is the first time that we did and a big national events where we brought all the, you know, like hundreds of the of the grassroots leaders that we’ve been working with, up until that point into DC for what we call the National grassroots assembly, for childcare. And I remember being in this room for three days. And just like I felt this sort of surge, and another word doesn’t come to mind other than magic. Like, it just felt like there was this magic in the room with all these women that were owning the truth about how they felt neglected and abandoned and uncared for.

Gloria Riviera  26:06

And this is 2018, before the pandemic.

Wendoly Marte 

Before the pandemic. And I just distinctly it was the first time to be honest with you, Gloria, where I really believed that there was a national thing to win, it was sort of like this moment where like, okay, all these things actually add up to something, we can actually win something nationally, because there’s so much fire, and there’s so much energy here. And I meant it when I said, it’s sort of like my energy is, you know, I feed it from the back, like I extract energy, that these.

Gloria Riviera 

I get it now, much more acutely. Yeah, I understand.

Wendoly Marte 

It’s harder to sustain in the middle of a pandemic. One of the things that we’ve been able to lean into, which is one of the reasons why this day of action is even possible on May 9th, is we found a way to really find people online, mostly running Facebook ads, that then bring them into a community. First, a conversation with an organizer, similar to how sort of we would do a traditional one on one, if we were like, knocking on somebody’s door, or somebody brought them into, you know, a community meeting, we would follow up after this time, you know, sign up through an ad, we’ll follow up with a one on one through text, an organizer, what and then they bring them into another online sort of Facebook community where they get to relate to other people that are having a similar experience. And then we invite them to take action offline in some way. And so we’ve been doing kind of miniature versions of this for the last couple of years. And now this day of action on May 9 is sort of like a combination of both the sort of frustration that we’ve been feeling about inaction. And you know, we’ve fought really hard last year to pass the bill back better act, because there was a huge investment that we fought for, and negotiated with many members of Congress to be able to actually have a huge sort of investment into childcare toward this sort of equitable, you know, system that that we’ve been trying to get. And now everyone is like, it’s clear, we’re not getting blowback better. And we have to continue to put pressure publicly on our elected officials so that they realize that like, we’re not going to let this go. Like, this isn’t like a thing, we’re going to just put in a drawer away. Like we actually need to continue to make sure that we’re stressing the importance of acting on childcare. And so this day has sort of emerged out of that frustration, as emerged out of the need that people still feel and the pandemic only aggravated. And it is about kind of, like, just, it’s also a moment of solidarity, right? Because we’re seeing how so many parents are sort of saying, We will stand with providers, because we realize that their success is tied to our family’s success. And there’s so much about that that’s can be that’s just like powerful. And so the work that we’ve been doing with the childcare changemakers network, which is the sort of online to offline model that I described, and the 20,000 people we brought into that into that infrastructure is sort of like the anchor of the actions that we’re doing, which is just really exciting. We have over 25 actions planned across the country and more that are sort of developing, we’ve set a threshold that they have to be between 15 and 100 people, you know, on average, so we’re just seeing more and more folks sort of pile on from big ones in New York and in California, Indianapolis also in Texas, you know, places in South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, we’re just seeing sort of like fast energy across the board. And it’s a very wide range of actions that are happening. You know, we’ve sort of given folks a lot of flexibility to be able to do the kind of thing that they want to do. And so there’s some actions happening City Hall, like the one in New York. And there are actions happening in centers that are sort of more advocacy oriented, there are folks that are sort of marching from their sights into a public park, and doing a little rah rah together.

Gloria Riviera  30:36

How do you get involved in this? Because I’m hearing it I am in Washington, DC, and I would bet you a bazillion dollars, something is happening here. But for everyone out there listening, how do you figure out how you can be involved? What do you do?

Wendoly Marte 

So we have a website as called A Day Without Childcare. And it’s on May 9th, and folks can go in there. And there’s a map of the actions that are already planned. So if there’s an action in your area, that you’re sort of called to feel free to sign up directly for that action, you could also sign a pledge, if you want to be an organizer for a local action that’s not already on the map. You can also do that. There’s lots of ways to do it on the website. But you’ll get all the information you need from existing activities that are elections that are already sort of being scheduled, you’ll get the information for the location, the organizer, and then they’ll reach out to you directly.

Gloria Riviera 

And all of that will be linked on our show. So it’ll be in our show notes, listeners, you can find it there. After this break, Wendoly tells me how she really feels about New York’s $7 billion childcare deal, and your real childcare moments, the voices of the No One Is Coming To Save Us community, those are coming up right after this. I mean, I always say after the first episode of no one is coming to save us, I was not a child care voter. I just was not I sort of survived my kids early years and didn’t want to think about them very much after that. But I feel like we have to, and I’m so impressed with you. And only because you haven’t decided to start a family yet. And yet you’re so energetic and motivated and inspired by this, this movement. And I want to talk about what’s happening in New York, because you’re in the Bronx, I’m talking to you in the Bronx right now. And the governor, there is pledging a lot of money to fund childcare in New York. So tell us a little bit about that. Because I think honing in and looking what at what is actually happening in a state is so helpful for people listing, both as a goal for them, but just to educate them about what the fight looks like now on the ground. So what’s happening in New York?

Wendoly Marte 

I would say that, you know, you’re absolutely right. I’ve not decided I’ve don’t have kids of my own yet. But in a way I’m doing this because I want to.

Gloria Riviera 

Amen, amen. We need you. We need you so badly. Okay, good. I’m glad you’re in this fight.

Wendoly Marte 

I definitely want to be a mom of my own. I want to have kids and I want to bring them into a world where I don’t have to make hard choices about their care every day, in a way and this is selfish. Because I want to make sure that I don’t have to go through the struggles that so many women are going through every day. So I just preface by saying that. Yeah, I would say that what’s happening in New York. It’s sort of like an example of the kinds of things that happen when you have all these other places that are setting a precedent. So a lot of the ways that that California and New Mexico, Washington and other places have sort of heavily invested into childcare, I think has created an Oregon I mean, there’s so many who sort of created a bit of a buzz, I think among governors, like ours, who, by the way, had to deal with this. they’re all lives. And so like now when they have the power to actually legislate. This is exactly the kinds of champions that I think we need. And if it didn’t happen, because I don’t know where also I would say that there’s really incredible organizing one of our local organizations that partner on our childcare work here is easy on the move early childhood education on the move. And they are this network of providers, most of them homecare providers, most of them, women of color, most of them immigrant, actually, that has been providing care for kids in our city for a long time, and have been fighting to make sure that they recognize that there’s more money being invested at the state level and the federal level and childcare. And so a lot of the work that these women have done over the last couple of years to push, Schumer in particular, to make sure that Build Back Better pass and that childcare was a priority as part of the fight at the national level. And then also a lot of the work that they’ve been doing either way in the city, to make sure that the cities are still paying attention to what it can do what is possible at the city level, to invest in childcare. I think it’s a combination, the sort of support that we’re seeing from the governor in New York is a culmination of a lot of that work that they’ve been doing to make sure that childcare is a priority. And so I just want to I want to give them credit, because they are amazing, and have been doing so much work and advocating for themselves and the kids that they care for, and the families that they provide support for. And so, you know, there are actually a few events happening in New York, the biggest one is in City Hall. So there’ll be on the steps of City Hall, there’ll be a lot of providers and parents and kids that are coming there to talk about why the city and the state needs to continue to invest into childcare and wages for you know, higher wages, living wages for providers, and all that. And then there’ll be a couple of actions and other places in the city, putting one actually in the in the Bronx is very close to where I live, I’m going to be supporting now. And I’ll be on the ground supporting the ladies as they do their thing. And you know, the word seeing, you know, the other side, California, they’re going to be probably five different actions across the state on that same day as well. So we are seeing just a lot more support that sort of coming up. And we’re seeing a lot of actions also develop in Spanish. So we have like a whole string of leaders that we’ve been supporting, that are doing spare, like actions in Spanish for the speaking of speaking Spanish speaking families also. And it’s really, really exciting.

Gloria Riviera 

So I have a question. I am. I mean, I love hearing that because it seems like this very disparate patchwork quilt is now coming together to send a message. I mean, is the idea that if you are attending this, you know, you want to know, I mean, I know that New York’s governor has pledged an enormous amount of money to fund child care in New York City. Do I have that right? It’s like $7 billion. That’s right, shouldn’t is if you are at one of these events, is the assumption that you will know how your legislators feel about childcare and you will use your vote as your currency like you’re not going to get my vote unless I know how you feel about childcare. And as for the 7 billion coming to New York, we hope. What do you think about that? Is that enough money? Where is it good to go? I mean, that’s a huge number.

Wendoly Marte  38:24

It is a huge number. And it’s not enough, unfortunately.

Gloria Riviera 

It’s not enough. Okay. Good. We know how she feels about that. We know how he feels about that. It’s not enough. And that’s just for New York City. That’s not a lot of money. Okay?

Wendoly Marte 

It’s really not for a city of a million people where the cost of living is so expensive. Unfortunately, it’s a huge investment. Absolutely. And I think it’s a great sort of what I would say down payment for what is needed. But we need a lot more investment.

Gloria Riviera 

I mean, it sounds like to me, what’s now giving me energy is that I have come to this place where I’m like, okay, so what do we do? And there are very smart people and organizers, such as yourself, who knows, right, who know, the jigsaw puzzle, who know what piece needs to be addressed first, do you think that what is in development in New York right now? Could that be a template for the whole country? I mean, or you’re not there yet. Is that sort of a high in the sky idea?

Wendoly Marte 

I think honestly, every time that there’s a huge investment like this, I always look at it with the best possible intention. I assume the best intentions, and honestly, anything is possible, right? Like there’s so much flexibility that the city will have to be able to spend these funds and it’s a matter of making the right choices.

Gloria Riviera  40:02

So do you think that the people making the decision about how to spend the money, like do they get it because I spoke to someone in Alabama, who was talking to me about, you know, having this disconnect between the decision makers? Who am I going to give to the money to how’s it gonna be used? And the providers on the ground. Like, are the decisions being made by people who get it? I have a long-winded way of getting my question, but that’s my question.

Wendoly Marte 

I think it’s still a little unclear who’s going to be deciding, I mean, the city.

Gloria Riviera 

Do the city people, do they get it?

Wendoly Marte 

It’s unclear still. I think that the administration is still trying to figure out where it stands on various issues. And I think that there is there’s a lot actually the city legislators could do to make sure that like, they’re actually paying attention to this, similar to how they are like committees and different sort of working groups in the city council, for example, I pay attention to different housing regulations, the health care and other things like part of what making childcare a priority is also about investing in how government is structured in a way that actually prioritizes it. And I think that there’s a lot that legislators could do at the city level, to make sure that they have, they’re actually paying attention to all these nuances around how the money is actually spent. And so we’re going to have a campaign with our local partner […] and others that it’s going to be about how the city council and have the actual Adams administration is paying attention to how these funds are being spent so that they’re actually spent in the right ways. That’s part of the fight that comes ahead, after we get the money. And I do think that there’s still some things that the state could do, like the governor’s office could also, you know, advocate to make sure that the money is spent in these ways. And so it’s not just the by handing over the money. I think that they’re similar to how I think we’re trying to define at the federal level with Build Back Better and other ways how the federal sort of legislators could sort of give some guidance to states on how to spend the money. The same thing could be done by the governor of the state to sort of give some guidance to the city on how they need to think about spending the money.

Gloria Riviera  42:41

I mean, I just hope our listeners are hearing how rough it is right now in the trenches, like as you said, it’s not just about the money. That’s huge. It’s great, good, thank you seven billions, not enough, but we will take it, but it’s in the implementation and who is making the decisions and are those people in lockstep with the providers on the ground and the families on the ground? That’s where the really gritty work that you are doing comes in? When do I want to say thank you for the work that you do. I thank you for, you know, being in the role that you’re in because I love what you said at the beginning of this that there’s energy and there’s motivation before that predates the pandemic. That’s there. We just have to organize and thank you there are organizers like you when to lay out there helping us do just that. So thank you so much. Keep going Thank you. And I have a I have an inkling will be checking back in with you sooner rather than later.

Wendoly Marte 

Thank you. Appreciate it.

Gloria Riviera 

Thank you again to Wendy Lee for speaking with me. Her passion about this subject is so inspiring. We need more of that. I can’t wait to see all of her hard work pay off on May 9 As I said in the interview, we do have links to more information about a day without childcare in the show notes I really hope that some of you are able to participate. If you do me a favor, please share your stories and post your pictures in our no one is coming to save us Facebook group. I would love to see them. And don’t forget to take out your phone and record a voice memo while you are there that would be so great to listen to send them to us we will include them at the end of the show. On that note. Here are this week’s voices from the no one is coming to say this community.

Speaker 3  44:42

Hi this is Jen from Austin, Texas recording from the lactation room in terminal C of the Dallas Fort Worth airport where I am pumping well in route to my first work conference. As a mom of two kiddos two and under, I’m traveling without the kiddos, which is both exciting, but also very anxiety provoking and running on very little sleep. Since there’s been a lot of work, prepping for this trip, making sure I have all of my pump parts of plan for pumping at different places, through travel, and then at the conference, making sure that there was enough milk left behind and a plan for feeding. But also feeling very thankful that I’m being supported by my partner and my mother-in-law who is traveling to help out with the kiddos for the week, and also to our amazing, amazing childcare centers who are also a big part of the support team.

Speaker 4 

Hi, Gloria. This is Tiffany from San Francisco, California. I really love the podcast, in part because early childhood education and care is my passion. I taught pre-K here in the city for seven years before, like so many other teachers, I decided to leave the profession and pursue other interests, namely going back to school to get my doctorate degree. Well, in school, I had my daughter who is two and a half. And luckily, because I was able to be a full-time student, I was also able to stay home and care for her full time, which is extra lucky because we don’t have any nearby friends or family, especially during the pandemic that would have been able to help us out. Right now we’re getting, I’m getting ready to defend my dissertation, which is about leadership in early childhood education. And I hope to use it, my tools and what I’ve learned to advocate and create policy that can really fix the system, because like you’ve avoided, it’s not working for anyone. Hopefully it’ll find my daughter placed at a center when she turns three and sounds like a lot of hoping but hopefully, we’ll fix the system together.

Gloria Riviera  46:56

It always amazes me how many of our listeners are either current or former early educators. You are our people. To that first mom, good luck, you can do it. I know what it’s like to leave little kids. I also know that work can bring an entirely different kind of satisfaction and parents should feel supported to do both. I clearly remember my first pump and that unique sounded made to the second mom, good luck finding care for your daughter. We are going to keep fighting to make it easier for you, Mama. If you want to hear your voice on the show, all you have to do is take out your phone, record a short voice memo and send it to me at gloria@lemonadamedia.com. I cannot wait to hear what you send. Okay, we have some amazing shows coming up. Next week I will be talking to Liz Tenety. She is the co-founder of Motherly Inc. And she is also the host of the Motherly podcast, we will talk about how we can build a system that empowers mothers and allows them to truly thrive. And then the following week, I will speak with JJulie Kashen and she is so smart. She is the Director of women’s economic justice at the Century foundation. Julie will lay out the next steps for federal child care reform. Now that build back better well. It’s not going to be exactly what that looks like. But there will be something and Julie is going to tell us all about it. Okay, that is it for now. Thank you. Thank you guys. Thank you for listening. I’ll see you back here next week.


NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US is a Lemonada media original presented by and created with Neighborhood Villages. The show is produced by Kryssy Pease and Alex McOwen, Veronica Rodriguez is our engineer music is by Hannis Brown. Our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me Gloria Riviera. If you like the show, and you believe what we’re doing is important. Please help others find us by leaving us a rating and writing us a review. Do you have your own experiences and frustrations with the childcare system? Do you have ideas for what we could do to make it better? Join the no one is coming to save us Facebook group where we can continue the conversation together. You can also follow us and other Lemonada podcasts at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms. Thank you so much for listening. We will be back next week. Until then hang in there. You can do it.

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