The First City with Universal Child Care (with Julie Menin)
Subscribe to Lemonada Premium for Bonus Content
Gloria sits down with NYC Council Member Julie Menin to learn how New York became the first city in the United States to pass universal child care. Julie talks about running a campaign centered on child care, how she convinced her colleagues to vote for this bill, and what will happen now that it’s passed. Plus, they break down what each bill in her package will do, including creating a child care directory and online portal for local, state, and federal child care subsidies. Plus, Julie explains why her plan focuses on New York’s youngest kids, from 0-3 years old.
This podcast is presented by Neighborhood Villages, and is brought to you with generous support from Imaginable Futures, Care For All Children by the David and Laura Merage Foundation, and Spring Point Partners.
Joining Lemonada Premium is a great way to support our show and get bonus content. Subscribe today at bit.ly/lemonadapremium.
Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this show and all Lemonada shows: http://lemonadamedia.com/sponsors/.
Follow Julie Menin on Twitter @JulieMenin and on Instagram @julmenin.
Laugh, cry, be outraged, and hear solutions! Join our community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nooneiscomingtosaveus.
Stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia.
For additional resources, information, and a transcript of the episode, visit lemonadamedia.com.
Gloria Riviera, Julie Menin,
Gloria Riviera 00:11
Hi friends. How is everybody? Is everybody okay? Good. I hope everyone’s okay. I am okay. And you know what? I will take Okay. I will take okay these days. I am good with being okay. We are staring down Halloween in this house we got a cheetah. I don’t know what my boys will do. On the day this episode airs we will have four days until Monday which is October 31st. But to take a page from what they do not tell you about parenting, where I live. We will do a whole other thing on Saturday. Yes, a little sneaky Saturday Halloween every year. So really, we have two days. Two days. I better buy that candy. This is no one is coming to save us. A Lemonada Media original created with and presented by Neighborhood Villages. I am your host Gloria Riviera. Our guest today is Julie Menin. She is a New York City Council member representing District five which includes neighborhoods like the Upper East Side, East Harlem and Roosevelt Island. She is an attorney with over two decades working in the public and private sector. And to top it off, she has been spearheading the effort to establish universal childcare in New York City. And drumroll please. Earlier this month, her bill passed. It passed making New York the first US city to pass universal childcare. This is a major win. She’s going to tell us all about it. She is a total boss. She’s also a mother of four. She has a little girl just like me. And we talked about our little girls and changing things for them. Julie is just this fierce mama, lawyer, Councilwoman in the thick of the fight. And if everything goes according to plan, and wait until you hear about her plan, because it is smart, then New York City could become the first city in this country to have what we know we all need affordable, accessible, quality childcare. It is possible. But don’t listen to me. Listen to Julie, here she is.
Gloria Riviera 02:40
Julie, I’m so glad that you’re with us. And one of the first things that I want to hear more about is, you know, you have this illustrious career, you’ve had this big win recently in early education. But I want to start with what it is like for you as a mother in the city and what your experience was, you know, trying to pursue a prestigious job career and having little ones. What was finding care like for you in New York?
Julie Menin 03:11
Well, this is a problem that every working parent faces is childcare. And it has only become worse during the COVID pandemic. I’m a mother of four. I started my career as a lawyer, and then owned a small business and then got very involved in public sector work as Commissioner of several city agencies, and it’s always juggling, childcare. It’s a demand and a challenge that I think every single parent faces for me personally, when my boys were young, my mother was alive. And she helped me, it would have been very difficult for me to have had the career I would have had without my mom’s help, because she would literally come over and help me all the time. And my mother, sadly is no longer here. So I know this challenge firsthand. And when I decided to run for city council, I campaigned on the issue of universal childcare, because it’s really a moral imperative that city government help families in need, who cannot afford childcare. And part of it is an affordability issue, but part of it is also an accessibility issue. We have 17 childcare deserts around the city. So even finding childcare near your home is a challenge as well.
Gloria Riviera 04:31
I know when I want to look at everything that you introduce specifically because I know that there is a directory that will make things hopefully much easier for families when they search for childcare. So I also was in the middle of pursuing a next chapter in my own career and my mother came to help me with my three year old and my one year old and I simply don’t know what I would have done. What did people on the campaign trail Sadie you when you campaign And on this issue, what were the stories that you heard? I know personally, you thought, wait a minute, this is a huge problem. We need to fix this. But how did you find it resonating with people whose vote you were hoping to get?
Julie Menin 05:15
So I heard about on the campaign trail constantly, because for many people, childcare is one of the single greatest expenses that they face, on average childcare costs between 18,020 $1,000 a year. So it is an enormous challenge for the majority of New Yorkers. So I was constantly talking to parents and caregivers who are saying, we can’t afford this. This is we can’t afford it. And particularly for working mothers, I would hear from them saying that they felt like they had to leave their job because they couldn’t find affordable, accessible childcare. And that’s really borne out by the statistics, just last year, over 375,000 parents have either left the workforce or downsize their career, because they can’t afford childcare. That’s embarrassing. And that’s unconscionable, like why are we as a city allowing this to happen? It’s not only the wrong thing for the city to allow, but it also has an economic effect as well, because there’s 375,000 parents is estimated are costing the city over $2 billion a year in lost economic revenue. So one of the reasons why I launched this package was first of all, to make it easier for families who cannot afford childcare to be able to do so secondly, to try to create the building of more childcare facilities, because we’ve got these childcare deserts all over the city. But also, there’s an economic reason as well, women should not be forced to have to choose between a job and childcare. That’s outrageous. And so we as a city are finally stepping up and New York City because of this package is actually the first city in the country to implement universal childcare.
Gloria Riviera 06:58
So, you have said in the past that universal childcare means that everyone who needs a seat will get a seat. Tell me more about that. What is and where are we now that this these bills have passed? What does it look like? Now I know that there’s, you know, sort of the grant pilot program will be implemented from now until July is it talk me through and then we’ll go back to the to the fight to pass this, but talk me through what it looks like now that this has passed almost unanimously. And I want to talk about the almost there too, but what is the landscape look like now?
Julie Menin 07:36
Sure. Well, the landscape. First of all, it looks like universal childcare. I mean, universal childcare was definitely the goal behind this package. And in fact, one of my bills, which creates a permanent childcare advisory board mandates that the city must within five years get to a universal childcare program. However, the first priority has to be those that really need it. And so my advisory board bill, basically stipulates that first, the board is going to look at families who are at 400% or less of the federal poverty guidelines. So just to give it a specific example, the 400% of the federal poverty guideline is 11 $111,000, for a family of four. So basically, for families of four that are at 111,000 or less, we’re going to start with them. That is the first focus. But then beyond that, we want to get to universality which basically means for every family that needs childcare, the city should be providing that. And I’ve had experience in terms of creating universal programs before when I was commissioned with the Department of Consumer Affairs, I launched a program to provide a college savings account to every public school kindergartener, we started with a pilot program in Queens, where we gave out college savings counts to 13,000 kindergarteners, we prove the concept. And now that program is universal. So every single kindergartener in the city of New York is now part of that program is called NYC kids rise. So universality on child care. The goal is first we’re focusing on the families that 111,000 or less, and then we broaden it out. Now the bills do not stipulate the ages. They don’t say what ages we have to provide universal childcare. However, in my opinion, the greatest need is first on 0 to 3, because the city has 3k, although that has been scaled back recently, but we do have universal pre K. There is really very little from 0 to 3. So I really wanted to focus first to start on 0 to 3 to try to help those parents.
Gloria Riviera 09:54
And something that we’ve seen happen here in DC is that because DC also has passed you Universal pre K, there’s a more acute need at the younger ages. And they actually have a problem if they expand it beyond that, because older siblings will go off into pre K. And it just changes the dynamic for a family. Where are they going every day? Where are they dropping their kids off every day? So I agree, I think it’s heartening to hear that that is the focus age. And I also think it’s heartening to hear that you’ve expanded the eligibility requirements to 400% of the poverty, income level. That’s a big expansion. And $111,000 a year, we always hear these numbers that are so low. It’s heartening that that’s the level that’s now being targeted to help, right. It’s a higher level than it has been before. Does that make sense?
Julie Menin 10:50
Absolutely. And that was really the goal. Because in talking to parents, I would hear this all the time, where you have two working parents who are working good jobs, and one of them has to leave the workforce because they can’t afford childcare. So the goal was to broaden the eligibility to 400% or below, and then broaden it out after that. But to do a truly universal childcare program, you know, is going to take some time. So we gave up to 5 years, about 5 years is the deadline. But obviously, we’re going to push to get this done faster. But the city council has oversight. So we will obviously be performing our oversight function and I plan on holding the administration’s feet to the fire on this.
Gloria Riviera 11:55
How much do you think that you’ve inherited from De Blasio now that’s created the problems that you had to tackle? Right? Like, there are so many headlines, great universal pre K, fantastic. And yet I read a lot about how difficult early education and what it looks like has been in New York City. I mean, I don’t want to ask you where you place blame. Let me ask you this. What were the major hurdles that you faced? And who was responsible for those?
Julie Menin 12:25
Well, it’s really interesting when you look at this, because just yesterday, we had an education hearing about payment to child care providers, and only 61% of child care providers in the city have been currently paid by the Department of Education last year, how do we expect child care providers to continue their work if they’re not getting paid on time, and we’re really seeing the consequences of that over 1400 child care providers have closed in recent years. And I hear constantly from them. They’re closing because of lack of timely payment. They’re also closing, by the way, and this is another big issue is in order to open up a childcare facility, obviously, you need to do criminal background checks for anyone that is going to be working with children. And I’m not in any way suggesting that we not do that. That is obviously as a mother. I completely concur with that. However, it’s taking the Department of Education 7 to 12 months to do a routine criminal background check. So that is basically clogging up the system of approvals for these new childcare facilities to open. So they’re just myriad problems administratively with operating these businesses. And I’m trying to cut through the bureaucracy and red tape and making it easier to open up the childcare facilities. Two of my bills get to the issue of supply. One bill provides grants directly to struggling providers, and the second bill provides a tax abatement that is offered by the state up to $225,000, to property owners to open up new childcare facilities.
Gloria Riviera 14:05
Julie, there’s a lot to unpack there. But just for our listeners, I do want to go back to the issue of nonpayment because I’m guessing that New York is not the only state that deals with issues of nonpayment. But what we’re talking about there, and you fill this out if there are gaps is that there are providers around the country, particularly in New York State that depend on their State Department of Education, to give them money to support their businesses, because they are enrolling children on subsidies, correct? So what is the payment that they’re relying on the government to get because I’ve read about providers being unable to pay their teachers being late with teacher salaries, I’m imagining that that money is allocated to things like rent that it just they’re not getting the operating cost that they have been told they would receive from the government. And why is that?
Julie Menin 15:02
Well, you ask a lot of very important questions. So first of all, we are talking about the City Department of Education here because again, the city council only has jurisdiction over city agencies. So basically, the City Department of Education has been delaying payments to city contracted early childhood programs, they are owed millions of dollars in reimbursement. And so that’s been an enormous issue. And so that we had a hearing about that, basically, to make sure that we were getting to that issue. We did, in my opinion, did not get the answers that we really needed to from the Department of Education. And it’s very frustrating, because in order to get to universal childcare, this is an issue of supply. This is an issue of well, why have 1400 childcare providers closed in recent years, that demand is actually higher than ever in New York City, on average most year zero over 100,000 births a year. So the demand is higher than ever, but the supply is shrinking. So we’re hemorrhaging these childcare providers and losing more and more of them. So I’m trying to stop the hemorrhaging.
Gloria Riviera 16:14
And you also mentioned earlier that there’s going to be some kind of tax benefit for certain providers or certain property owners that avail themselves to early education centers. Can you talk us what that looks like? And the reason that I’m so interested in that is because I always go back, right? It’s always about the money. Where’s the money coming from? How can we make this economically advantageous for all sides? So this struck me as being very smart. Walk us through why you decided to propose that particular piece of legislation.
Julie Menin 16:50
Sure, well, the New York State budget passed earlier this year, and it allows New York City to create a tax abatement to help increase child care facilities in the city. So starting in 2023, New York City is going to be offering a five year tax abatement for property owners that create or expand childcare centers. And specifically, it’s up to $225,000 that’s available through the abatement with costs incurred, for example, in construction or conversion or alteration or improvement to childcare centers. So this tax abatement lowers the property tax bill by applying the credits against the total amount owed. So what my bill does is basically mandates that the city do this since the state has already allocated this funding. So we want to make sure now that it’s happening.
Gloria Riviera 17:40
Right. And do you think that that is, I mean, to what extent how attractive is that to a property owner to incentivize him/her, they/them to open a childcare center early childcare center?
Julie Menin 17:55
Well, look, for many property owners that have vacant space, this space has been vacant for some time. So a $225,000 abatement is an incredibly significant number. So the hope is that it really will spur property owners to make sure that they are creating these childcare facilities. You know, we’ll know soon. I mean, obviously, we’re going to monitor it, but it should make a difference. And it should really move the needle.
Gloria Riviera 18:20
There are some other things in the legislation that you proposed that struck me as very, I don’t know if this is the right word, but it’s sort of administrative, right, like taking a few steps back to say, there’s a lot of mess we need to clean up. But talk me through each one. Let’s start with 45A. And so this is very simple. This is a directory of childcare programs in a city and you mentioned earlier, childcare deserts. And you’re right, we think about them. You know, I’m from Washington State, I spend time in Idaho, I would suspect Idaho would have a lot of childcare deserts. I’m sure it does. But New York City, that struck me is unusual.
Julie Menin 18:59
Well, it’s really interesting. So basically, the idea behind this childcare directory is if you want to try to find childcare in your neighborhood, it’s actually very difficult to find any kind of comprehensive guide to do so because there isn’t, the city doesn’t really have a comprehensive guide that lists every single facility lists the languages spoken The hours of operation, is it operated out of someone’s home? Is it a freestanding facility. So that’s the idea behind the electronic childcare directory, and that directory will be an online portal, it’ll be available in 11 different languages. So we thought that that was a, you know, incredibly important to have,
Gloria Riviera 19:39
and it just doesn’t exist right now. When you were a new mom, and your mom, your own mom was headed in to help you there. You know, my mother says no, in my time, I couldn’t google childcare. But still today, no one can Google that and get an answer. That suffices.
Julie Menin 19:56
Well, that’s exactly right. And it also lists the status of a permit or license required to operate the program. So if you’re interested in doing you know, research about that it basically gives you soup to nuts, all the salient information, you would want to know about where your child is going to be in this childcare facility. So that’s the idea behind the electronic childcare directory.
Gloria Riviera 20:17
Before we get to the next pieces of information that were in each bill, I do think it’s a good time to say, okay, so this didn’t pass unanimously. I read that it was sort of almost unanimous, but not totally, what were the objections.
Julie Menin 20:32
So every single bill passed unanimously, but one, the creation of the electronic childcare directory had one person vote against it, just one. And the concern there, I had a colleague who, for privacy reasons felt that childcare providers should not have to be listed. But in fact, they already are listed because their routine audits are done by city agencies, the state also has a listing of some childcare providers. So I did not agree with his concern. And so he was the only one to raise the concern about a childcare directory. But other than that the bills passed; the all the other ones were unanimous.
Gloria Riviera 21:11
So that’s very good news. And I actually think the reporting should reflect that. Because when I read that it was not unanimous that to me, you know, as a podcast or on early education, you know, I want to dig into that. But your answer really explains it. It’s I don’t think almost unanimous is quite right. So talk to me about 487A, which is going to require the administration to create an online portal again, we’re online that provides information on childcare subsidies. Julie, I cannot tell you. subsidies. That’s what keeps me up at night. I just the mess of subsidies. So why did you think this was an important issue to tackle?
Julie Menin 21:48
Because I think it’s a maze. And I think that a lot of times families do not realize that they may qualify for a subsidy, their city subsidy, state subsidies, federal subsidies. And so the idea behind the online portal is that in one portal, one website that you go to, you will find out which subsidies you can qualify for what are the eligibility criteria for every single subsidy, there’ll be instructions on how to apply for each of the subsidies. And the portal will also have all the forms that are needed to apply for each. And again, we’re trying to break through bureaucracy, we’re trying to make it easier for parents and families to be able to have this information and then to qualify for the subsidies.
Gloria Riviera 22:31
And what do you envision happening once a family qualifies, and once the child is in a facility that’s taking good care of the child? And this might be, you know, five years, 10 years down the line? But what kind of support is there then for the parents? I know, the bills don’t offer supports for the parents. But if we’re talking about getting caregivers, parents out, back into the workforce, is there any other kind of structure to support that?
Julie Menin 23:04
It’s an excellent question, because one of the goals behind the package is to deal with the issue that you just mentioned, which is parents being pushed out of the workforce, because they cannot afford childcare. The hope is, obviously, if we get child care covered for that family, which is what this legislation does, then that parent can decide to go back to work. That I mean that that’s obviously the goal behind this. Because we know, for example, that child care is disproportionately affecting women, affecting mothers who are being pushed out of the workforce and a woman who makes on average $57,000 A year loses 480,000 in their lifetime, when they have to leave the workforce because of childcare. So those earnings and we’ve got to get those back. And so that that’s really the whole gist behind one of the reasons why we felt this was so important.
Gloria Riviera 24:22
So, I’m just curious, what was your thought process when you and maybe this happened several years ago, but just take us through it when you connected the dots. And I’m thinking specifically in season one, we looked at Canada, and there is I think it was Quebec, where the data was very clear back in the late 90s more women in the workforce, increased tax dollars. You know, that was just one data point that was a benefit for passing highly affordable universal early education there for you. Wearing your lawyer cap wearing your politicians cap wearing all caps that you were, how did you connect the dots? And how did you identify that making that economic argument was going to be key in passing all of this?
Julie Menin 25:08
Oh, the economic argument is key. Because look, you can have the greatest programs in the world. But if we can’t afford to pay for them, we’re not moving the needle or changing anything. So I knew we had to pull the data on the economic argument that was one of the first pieces of data that I pulled. And that economic argument is incredibly compelling, to think that the city of New York loses in revenue, and at this specific data point is 2.2 billion. And it’s a study by the city’s economic development corporation, because parents are being forced out of the workforce are forced to downshift their career, that’s incredibly compelling. And other compelling data points are 60% of children in the city are living in areas considered to be childcare deserts. And a desert is basically defined as where available seats are not sufficient to meet the need that demand. So we know this. I mean, we know this is happening. And we know that parents are paying between 18 and $21,000 a year in childcare, I mean, that is just exorbitant for the vast majority of New Yorkers to be able to afford that. So those were the data points that we really looked at. And I also want to mention, one of my colleagues did a bill to create a Marshall Plan for moms. It’s basically a taskforce that will look at the idea of, you know, challengers to working moms, I mean, we know that women in particular face a lot of these, these burdens. And so the idea with universal childcare is obviously the hope is that the women will then be able to reenter the workforce.
Gloria Riviera 26:41
Another part of the bill is this grant pilot program for child care programs. And what I’m curious about when I look at this is the eligibility, right? That childcare program needs to be at significant risk of closure, but also meet application and other requirements established by the administrative agency. So that’s when that’s as far as my political acumen goes when I try to read their things. But just talk me through that, what are the requirements?
Julie Menin 27:12
So basically, the genesis behind this is I looked at the data of the number of facilities that had closed in recent years, I mentioned it earlier, it’s 1400 facilities, we’ve gone from 11,000, childcare facilities, over 11,000 in New York to the mid-9000s. That’s not acceptable, like we just cannot have that we have to stop this hemorrhaging. So the grant program, the idea behind it, it’s a three year pilot program that will award grants to struggling providers, I mean, the definition in the bill is at significant risk of closure or displacement. So basically, the agency administering this will have to make that determination. Our role in the Council is to have oversight to make sure they’re really doing a robust grant program that is meaningful, that they really did assess if the business is at significant risk of closure or displacement. Now, interestingly, and you might ask this, well, why doesn’t the bill specify the size of the grant? It’s left silent, really on purpose, originally, we did have language in there that would have specified the grant. But the more we talk to the administration, we actually want a broader relief for these businesses. And so it does not specify what the number is.
Gloria Riviera 28:28
And do you have a timeline? Because I imagine people saying I need that money yesterday.
Julie Menin 28:33
Yeah, well, it’s a three year pilot program, which is, you know, so again, these grants need to go out the door quickly. One of the things we’ll look at in our oversight is how quickly the grants are disseminated. I mean, you can’t wait two years to get a grant. So this this law, this one, this particular law, the Childcare Grant pilot program, takes effect as soon as it’s signed by the mayor, which we hope will be in a couple of weeks. So then it’s off to the races on that.
Gloria Riviera 29:02
After this pass, when you got a chance to speak not only with your team that had been fighting so hard to pass this and the other women because we haven’t even talked about how this was really a women led initiative. Did you talk to anybody who was a daycare early education provider, like for whom this was life changing that this had passed? This would have maybe not an immediate impact, but it certainly had the immediate impact of bestowing hope, right, that they were no longer alone. Was there any sort of personal story that you took away and keep with you and uses, you know, fuel for the fire when you need it?
Julie Menin 29:45
Yeah, no, it’s a great question, because it’s not only about parents and caregivers is also about the providers and we had when I had the rally when I introduced the bill, we had many providers who were there who told me such come Telling stories about how literally they were on the brink of closure. They didn’t know if they could pay their rent, they weren’t sure that they could make it, they were in a month to month situation. And when you think about it, you’re dealing with our most precious resource our children. And yet these providers are on a month to month the lack of stability that provides not only for that childcare provider and the workers, but for the children, these children form bonds directly, you know, with these providers. And so it was sort of, it was so heartbreaking to hear these stories. And when we pass the bill, we had a provider from Brooklyn who came and spoke eloquently about how she was so moved about this. And she was just thrilled that this is happening because she felt like finally someone had her back. Finally, there is hope that, you know, when she faces instability around the payment or other challenges that she faces that the city is going to step up and give a grant. So it was really moving to hear these stories.
Gloria Riviera 31:01
And how do you feel about the work ahead? I mean, you’ve passed this, this is huge. Do you feel like this could be replicated in other states across the country? Do you have any conversations on the national level with people in other states, elected officials and other states who are facing because we deal with this everywhere? Right? How inspiring has this been?
Julie Menin 31:23
This 100% can be replicated in other jurisdictions, we in New York City are obviously the largest jurisdiction in terms of the childcare. But that doesn’t mean that this cannot be replicated. And I do hope that in the coming years, we’re going to be able to provide the data to really show what a meaningful differences has made in people’s lives. And we’ll be looking at a number of different data points, one, and this obviously will take some time to see this trend. But women reentering the workforce, where we saw like such hemorrhaging. And in terms of the workforce drain that was happening, where women were being forced to have to make that that terrible choice between childcare and their job. So that will definitely be a data point that we’ll look at in terms of success to the construction of more childcare facilities, we need to build more of them. And so I do hope, particularly, that the tax abatement, one that we spoke about, as well as the grant program, will spur the construction of additional facilities. And then, of course, for the parents and caregivers having universal childcare, having that burden lifted from them. And so we’re going to be clearly holding the administration’s feet to the fire in terms of making sure they’re delivering on all of these different bills. But it’s been a very collaborative conversation that I’ve had with the administration. So, you know, I feel that we’re in a very good place in terms of delivering on these bills.
Gloria Riviera 32:49
And what if the administration as it will change is a different party comes in? How do you foresee being able to work across the aisle?
Julie Menin 32:58
I mean, look, I’ve served as commissioner in two different mayoral administrations, I think I’m someone who has worked across the board, you know, with many different stakeholders, many different elected officials. And so whatever happens here, in terms of the long term, this these bills will be the law. For many, many mayoral administrations, this is for the long haul. This is not just for the short term, the idea is that 1020 years from now, people will be able to look back and say, Okay, this was the structure that created universal childcare for the city of New York. So irrespective of which administration is in power, this is a law of the land. And this basically is, you know, creates a structure to get us there. So I’m very proud of this package, and I can’t wait to see it be implemented.
Gloria Riviera 33:48
Well, I’m very grateful that you took the time to speak to us today. As listeners, as you can tell from her tone. This is a woman who means business, and she’s getting it done in New York City. My last question for you, you know, you go home to your four kids. I don’t know how old they are they four boys, or do you have a girl as well?
Julie Menin 34:06
Three older boys. One’s already in college. They’re older. And then I have a four year old daughter.
Gloria Riviera 34:12
You do you have a baby girl? I have a baby girl; baby girls are good. The boys are great. But baby girls are good. I mean, so you have a four year old daughter. My question was, did you share this with your family or with your partner? Or you know, your mom is no longer with you, sadly. But did you think of her when you were able to get this across the finish line? I mean, how did they How did you bring this home with you at the end of the day?
Julie Menin 34:35
Well, I definitely talked to my kids about it. They were very, very proud my boys and my daughter is only four and so I think for her that I didn’t really have that conversation with her but my boys I definitely did as well as my husband. But I absolutely thought of my mother. I mean, I thought about all those times when I was working and when my mom was there when I would come home and she I literally could not have done half of the things I’ve been able to do professionally without my mother, because particularly when my boys were young, I had three in diapers at the same time. And to describe it as organized chaos might be the only way. Where like, one is running to the right, and one is running to the left, and one is running straight. And my mother with her unbelievably patient, and wonderful demeanor was always there for me. And she helped me so much and in a way that, you know, I just feel so blessed to have had her particularly at that point in my life when my kids were very young, and I really needed that extra support. So I absolutely thought she would have been so proud to have seen that the city council had passed this package, and that New York City was going to be a leader in terms of providing universal childcare.
Gloria Riviera 35:48
Well, I think your mom absolutely would be very proud. I’m so glad she was able to be there for you then. And I’m glad that uh, you know, she was in your heart when you got this over the finish line. Thank you so much for talking to us. We appreciate it so much and keep going. That’s what I always say at the end of these interviews. Keep going. We need you.
Julie Menin 36:05
Oh, thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the conversation and focus on childcare. It’s such an important issue.
Gloria Riviera 36:12
Yep, that’s what we do here. So you might have to come back.
Julie Menin 36:15
I’d love to anytime.
Gloria Riviera 36:25
Can I tell you she told me she had a heart out at 10 minutes to the hour and we nailed it. Yes, we did. We got all we needed from her. And I hope you did too. I love the way she kept saying, Yeah, that’s not going to work. That is unacceptable. Like do not waste my time. Let’s get to work. Thank you, Julie. Thank you for your work, keep going. We are with you. Okay, so before we go on, I want to mention something very important. While we are days away from Halloween, we are also days away from the midterm elections. Last August, we spoke to an organizer who helped rally voters to turn down a ballot measure in Kansas that would have been devastating for abortion rights. There will be similar votes again in various ways, shapes and forms across the country on November 8, five more states have abortion ballot measures in November, California, Vermont, Michigan, Kentucky and Montana. You can easily learn more about exactly what is being proposed in each state, Google trusted sources. Broadly speaking, however, we are talking about amendments to each state’s constitution that will directly affect access to abortion. Michigan is interesting because it is a battleground state that has had an abortion ban on the books since 1931. Yes, 1931. That law is currently blocked by the courts. But abortion rights advocates in Michigan see their proposed amendment as the best hope for permanently blocking the law from ever taking effect. What also pulled at my heartstrings is what’s happening in Montana. LR 131 is a legislative referendum that would and I’m quoting Abigail Abrams from time.com. Here, establish the infant’s quote, born alive at any stage of development or legal persons, and would require providers to give them medical care after induced labor, C sections and attempted abortions. Go look this up, particularly if you know anyone who votes in Montana. And to make matters worse, medical providers who violate the law would face penalties of up to $50,000.20 years in prison. So listen, I would guess there are many people who would choose many different options. But this sounds like it would push providers to intervene even if a family disagrees. What if a parent doesn’t want medical intervention? Again, we have laws on the table here that take away choice. And I think that is wrong. I believe taking away a woman’s right to choose is always wrong. So read up. Get clear on what a yes vote means what a no vote means. And please exercise your right to vote. Speak up. We need you. All right, before we go, this is the best part of every week. This is our chance to hear from you all my favorite people from the no one is coming to save us community. Here’s what you had to say this week.
Speaker 3 39:31
Hi, Gloria. I’ve been listening to your podcast. It’s just before I came back to work. I had my first baby in February and returned to work in June. And I didn’t think I could do this without crying. But yeah, it’s just so hard. It feels empowered. Simple to do anything well. I love my baby so much. I really like my job. And I love to not have to pay more than half of my paycheck in order for my baby to have childcare, which was frankly, not the nicest one we looked at, but was the cheapest. They love him. And I’m glad he’s there. And I’m pretty sure he’s safe and happy most days. But it is really difficult. And I just constantly, like, I’m letting everybody down. Myself, my work my colleagues, my husband, my baby. And it’s really, really hard. So I’m headed into work. I’m trying, trying try to get there earlier and earlier each day so that I can have more time with them in the evening. I have a job where I have to learn work a lot of weekends and evenings. I just am really sad, but I barely get to see my baby, and I have to pay so much for that. Cool privilege.
Gloria Riviera 41:19
Yeah, that quote unquote, privilege, there is a lot to unpack there. I’m pretty sure he’s safe. I do not like that we are living in a world where pretty sure is good enough. Not the nicest one we looked at but the cheapest. Okay, let me tell you this, you say you feel like you are letting all of these people in your life down. I remember feeling like that I remember feeling like I went from giving my all to most things in my life, to giving whatever I could muster. At the time. A friend told me to make a to do list that was highly achievable. And I remember asking her well, what do you put on that list? And she said, brush your teeth. Okay, well, what that really means is self-care. So when I hear your tears, I want to tell you take care of yourself. Yeah, consider putting brush your teeth on a to do list with a big checkbox next to it. So that each day, you can check that off. It feels like kind of good. And by the way, when you have a big job and a baby and a husband and all the other things. Yes, of course we have to brush our teeth. But checking that box does something. Something good. I am so sorry. You feel so sad about the situation, especially that you have to, as you wrote, pay so much for that privilege. I’m sad about that, too. I’m mad about that, too. It does not have to be this way; we can change it. We can demand better because Hello, it is for the benefit of everyone. So hang in there, Mama. Snuggle that baby, smell his little head and nuzzle his little neck and look at him in the eye and take in his first smiles because those are for you. All right, I do want to hear from all of you. In light of the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the high cost and inaccessibility of childcare in this country. Would you want or would you want someone you care about to become pregnant in the next year? Why or why not? Seriously, please keep sending me your voice memos. Building community with each other is one of the most important things we can do. To share your thoughts with me just pull out your phone, record a voice memo and email it to me at Gloria at lemon automedia.com It’s as simple as that. I love all of you. Let’s do this. 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.