The Woman Putting Child Care on the Ballot (with Deb VanderGaast)

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Gloria sits down with Deb VanderGaast, the Iowa woman running for state senate on a child care platform. Deb, a mother, activist, and child care director, recounts the harrowing story that caused her to leave her stable nursing job to start her own daycare center (despite her family’s warnings not to do so). Plus, she tells Gloria what made her decide to run for office and what her top priorities are if elected. And Gloria gets teary-eyed as she announces our Webby Award nomination for Best Podcast: Public Service & Activism.

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Follow Deb VanderGaast on Twitter @DebCares4Iowa. You can keep up with her campaign at

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Gloria Riviera, Speaker 3, Deb VanderGaast, Speaker 4

Gloria Riviera  00:06

Hi, No One Is Coming To Save us Listeners, I have a really good news, you might hear my voice shake a little bit. Because I just found out that our show has been nominated for a Webby Award in the category of public service and activism. I’m really happy and happy I am. I just want to tell you that this wouldn’t be possible without Lemonada or you the listeners. I’m so grateful that we get to have this conversation. And guess what, here’s the great news. You have a voice, in the Webby is the judges choose a winner in each category and the people get to choose one winner as well. So we are asking for your support. And you can check back here on social media as we get closer to the awards. Thank you so much this wouldn’t be possible without you. I’m really excited for season two. I’m gonna stop crying now.

Gloria Riviera  01:14

Hi, everyone, okay, just so you know, everybody can relax. I’m no longer teary over our Webby Award nomination. Although it still makes me smile really big just to say that. But see I got through it without even a tear. This is No One is Coming To Save Us from Lemonada media. And I am Gloria Riviera. I just want to say thank you are no one is coming to save us community. You have supported us so much over the past year, we would not be here without you at all. If you would like to vote for us, and I really hope that you do. Here’s what you need to do. And it is very simple. I know this because my own mother did it. Go to vote dot webby Choose podcast under categories, and then click on General series and select public service and activism. Isn’t that fun to say public service and activism and we’re talking about this podcast yay. You can also find a direct link for the voting in today’s show notes and on Lemonada’s social media accounts at @LemonadaMedia on all platforms. We know that we can win with the help of passionate listeners like you we just need your votes and voting is open now through April 21. So please vote and tell your friends and your families and anyone you see to also support us. Thank you guys so much. Okay, so I feel the Mojo today. Get ready. I almost want to say buckle up, do something to protect your heart rate because today’s guest talks a mile a minute, and there is a lot to digest. Deb VanderGaast is many, many miraculous things. First and foremost, she is the director of a childcare center in Iowa. It includes children with special needs, so that’s very cool. She’s also a nurse and a mother and an activist. She goes by the name the naptime activists on Twitter. I loved that as soon as I saw it. On top of all of that, Deb is now running for State Senate in Iowa’s 41st District on a child care platform. Does this woman ever sleep? Growing up Deb’s mom was a camp nurse for kids with special needs at an Easter Seals day camp at 11, just 11, she became a junior counselor there. And as I said she works with special needs kids to this day. At just 19 years old, Deb was the youngest lead teacher ever at a center for young kids in California. Later, when she and her first husband moved to Iowa, she started a daycare in her own home. So life happens right? The marriage started to fall apart. No child support three young kids. Deb needed a good paying job with benefits because remember, listeners, child care providers are lucky to earn minimum wage. And by and large they have zero benefits. Just want to drive that point home for the umpteenth time. So Deb went back to school and eventually she became a nurse. Luckily she got a job. She was working full time as a home nurse for adults and children. When she met her second husband, I will let Deb take it from here.

Deb VanderGaast  04:26

After a couple years we had a child together and put the child into a local childcare center, continued work in my job where I was covering multiple counties often far from home and little girl was you know had a lot of respiratory illnesses you know, we just kept calling it bronchiolitis and other things and but you know, to get better and we keep going. Well, one day I came home from work right at the end of the day when center was closing and see my little girl at 14 months old sitting in the middle of Floor resting forward on her hands. It’s called tripod sitting with no toys around her. And of course, as a nurse, I know that’s a red flag. That’s not normal. And I asked the teachers in the room, she’d been like that for long and they smiled, is it? Oh, yeah, she’s been quiet all day. They just thought it was wonderful. And I went over and pulled off her shirt. And she was in respiratory distress. She had retractions where she’s sucking in between her ribs, and working so hard to breathe. And she was not playing or crying because she simply could not breathe enough to play or cry.

Gloria Riviera  05:36

And you saw that right away?

Deb VanderGaast  05:38

I saw that right away. But that is not a childcare providers training, they had no way of knowing. All they knew was she was quiet. You know, they were worried about the ones that were crying. So I scooped her up, we went to the hospital. And I was informed that she had a condition called atelectasis, where an airway is completely blocked off. It can be caused by inhaling an object, but in her case, it was caused by severe asthma. And mucus and swelling had completely closed off the airway. And as the body reabsorbs, the trapped air in that lung, the lung slowly collapses. So she was in the process of a lung collapse, and she was in the hospital for a week, she was very severe. And so, you know, we hit the hospital a week later, we go back to daycare with all these medications. And, of course, emergency rescue medications. And they have a policy that if I can’t specify an exact time for the medication, they have to call me each time to get permission. Well, the problem with that is, is they didn’t want to bother me at work unless they were sure that she needed the medication. And when it comes to rescue medications, for asthma, for seizures, for allergies, early intervention is more effective. The longer you wait, the harder it is to reverse the symptoms. So every time they waited, and then they did finally call me and give the medication, the nebulizer treatment, it wouldn’t work. And I would have to rush home sometimes more than an hour to scoop her up, because he’s not bad enough yet for an ambulance, get her to the ER, and worse on telling them, give her another dose, give her another treatment. And they’re saying we can’t, the doctor’s orders don’t say that we have to wait two hours. Like no, do not wait two hours. And they wouldn’t do it. I would get there give you that nebulizer treatment to stabilize her for the transport to the hospital, get to the hospital, she’s stable. Get some steroids, go home, repeat again at least once every month for six months.

Speaker 4  07:47

And this is happening while you’re at work. So you’re trying to do your job to support your family and getting these calls that are taking you away. And how are you feeling about her care at that point? Was it just head scratching?

Deb VanderGaast  08:02

Frustrated, but having been a childcare provider also understanding that it’s not their fault? It’s yeah, this is not in their job description. They didn’t write the policy. They’re just doing their jobs. And they’re so scared as I am. They’re really scared. And so I couldn’t fault them.

Speaker 4  08:24

So how long was your daughter there? And what was the resolution? Was she there until she was ready to go to school? How did you manage that relationship with the childcare providers and your daughter, and her illness?

Speaker 3  08:37

Well, fortunately, my job doing homecare services meant that I was stopping in to see some kids with disabilities at a childcare center in Coralville, Iowa, that specialized in kids with disabilities. And through that experience, I met the director and founder of that daycare called Handy Care and talk to her on the phone about it. And she says, You know, I used to do this in my home that a childcare provider in Iowa can be a Medicaid waiver provider for respite and IMT, interim medical monitoring and treatment. And I’m like, wow, I used to have an in-home daycare, and I’m a registered nurse. And of course, that director was a nurse also. And so I started looking into it. Really not too long after the incident with my daughter being hospitalized because her specialists were saying this kid’s viral induced, and she’s in a room with 10 infants and she’s constantly exposed to viruses.

Speaker 4  09:40

That was all the coughing that you were seeing all the respiratory illnesses. Because she’s in this group environment..

Deb VanderGaast  09:47

Where she’s constantly exposed to viruses, which is going to happen. So I had started exploring the rules for doing Medicaid services as a child care provider and how I carry my family about it. And of course, my mom who’s also a nurse is, you know, you’re gonna walk away from a nursing career to daycare, and you realize the risk of lawsuits if you have a child with special needs, get harmed or die in your care and the liability issues and you’re gonna lose all kinds of income, but I’m just, every time my child gets sick, I’m like, what if she dies? Was my job worth it? And of course, again, I’m working with kids with disabilities and their families. And I’m realizing lots of families have the same problem. And it doesn’t have to be a disability, it can be a chronic medical condition. It can be challenging behaviors. Most daycares won’t take these kids because of the extra liability, the extra stress, the extra time and effort when you’re already stretched so thin. And the Americans with Disabilities Act says that, you know, you don’t have to accept them if it would fundamentally change your program, or incur high costs for you or require you to hire additional staff. And so yeah, there are many, many loopholes. But for good reason, because I as a parent, wouldn’t want to force a childcare provider to care for my child with special needs, if they weren’t comfortable with it. how comfortable would I be knowing that my child’s in the care of somebody who they themselves don’t feel competent to provide that care?

Speaker 4  11:39

So your whole family is saying don’t leave your nursing career, you have a degree in nursing, it’s much safer, you’re not going to face potential liability issues. You’re facing potentially losing your home all these things that are that you’re being told, don’t go do it. Don’t leave nursing for child care. And then what did you decide?

Speaker 3  12:07

My child’s life was worth more than anything else. So I did it. June 2005. And I actually found my very first client was a child with cerebral palsy, who was getting ready to have surgery and have to be on a feeding tube for a while, and full leg casts and in a wheelchair. And her current daycare provider wasn’t comfortable with that increase in level of care. And she was just going to come with me for the summer while recovering from surgery. And she ended up actually staying with me until she aged out at 19. She lived in a different school district. So she only came on no school days, would go to her other program. But yeah, that kid grew up with me, grew up with my kids.

Gloria Riviera  12:59

When we come back, Deb tells me how she got to the point where she just could not take it anymore. That is what led her to become a childcare activist, stick with us. I want to make a turn now to what made you decide to run and I’ve spent time looking at your Twitter feed. And I’ve I mean, the numbers to me are challenging to fully comprehend. But what did you start to see, when did you start to think […] site? It shouldn’t be so hard.

Speaker 3  13:55

It’s been more than 10 years since I started raising red flags. I’ve always been very involved in the childcare community. In my first day care home before I became a nurse, I had started a childcare association in my county. And childcare providers unfortunately worked 12 hours days and don’t have any money and they really didn’t want to go to meetings. So it didn’t last long. I can understand that. And then even here, I started Cedar County Child Care Association, but thanks to the internet and Facebook, we didn’t have to have meetings. We just connected online. And you know, so I had been looking at the DHS website, finding childcare providers to invite them to this group and so we could connect professionally and I was connecting with neighboring counties, professional childcare associations, and eventually the childcare union that we had in Iowa. And over time, I started seeing that the number of childcare providers were dropping, and of course at this same time because the federal government was wanting to set more standards for child care providers and for quality. For programs receiving federal funding through the Child Development block grant, we were finding that registration was becoming more and more like licensing. And that, you know, we were having people coming in expecting us to have things in our daycare home that you would see in a center, like, really expensive fall surfacing under our swing sets.

Gloria Riviera  15:32

Who’s telling you this, the people that are licensing you?

Deb VanderGaast  15:35

Yeah, the Quality Rating program and stuff, okay. And oh, at one point, I had a consultant, tell me that if I’m going to have a step stool in my bathroom, I should have fall surfacing under the step stool. And I said, what about my kitchen table, then the chairs are higher up off the floor, then that step stool. And she says, Well, do you let the children play on them? I’m like, yes, they eat there. They do crafts there. They do table toys there. Well, then, yeah, you need fall surfacing in your kitchen too, we’re talking very, very expensive stuff.

Gloria Riviera  16:13

That’s what I was thinking. I was thinking somebody coming into your home to say you need this and this and this, you’re already stretched thin financially, I’m assuming this. So how are you supposed to? That’s like, bang my head against the wall scenario, like, okay, I understand why I need this, but I can’t afford it.

Speaker 3  16:30

So as frustrations were building on this, and I’m talking to other childcare providers all across the region. And you know, of course, then at this time, we’ve gotten the Union together, thanks to I believe it was governor, Tom Vilsack. And one day I get an email from one of the people in the union and childcare Association over in Johnson County. And so did you see this article in the Iowa City press citizen? Because this person knew that I was a policy person, I like reading legal code and everything else and digging in deeper. And what it was, was the licensing worker for the area. And of course, I was registered, so I didn’t have a licensing work, right, or registration work or not saying for me, was interviewed by The Paper. And she says that, I feel that Iowa’s childcare regulations are too lacks. So I’ve been supplementing them from recommendations from a national group. These are like National childcare standards. They’re not our regulations. They’re our goal, not our minimum. And so I go and look, because in Iowa, licensing, reviews, reports from inspections are posted online for parents to see. And what I see is, she is citing childcare providers for violations that are not Iowa law, and requiring them to write corrective action plans. But she’s not saying these are recommendations I have. She’s saying these are violations, parents have no way to know that those are not violations. And so I start trying to call an email department Human Services, hey, this isn’t right if a police officer started enforcing Texas law, because you didn’t like Iowa law, and giving citations based on that, that wouldn’t fly for even a day. So when I got no answer, I started writing to legislators and reporters.

Gloria Riviera  18:40

And you’re, you’re angry because why?

Speaker 3  18:42

It’s not fair. It is not right. Because childcare providers were quitting. We had gone from in my zip code. So my community zip code includes the rural areas surrounding it from having about 15 childcare providers to about half of that.

Gloria Riviera  19:03

And they’re just leaving because?

Speaker 3  19:06

It’s not worth it. We’re getting nitpicked. I’m just trying to do my job; I don’t get paid enough for this. This kind of stress. Doing the best I can and they’re throwing in all this at us and no resources to even buy any this are not even a consideration. This is my family’s home. We live here, then people are just saying it’s not worth it. And so they’re quitting and I’m going people are quitting because of this kind of approach.

Gloria Riviera  19:37

And you know when childcare providers quit, what does that mean? I mean, I think it’s helpful for us to hear it from you.

Speaker 3  19:43

There’s a lack of childcare, safe childcare options regulated, because Iowa allows a person to operate a childcare business in their home for up to five children with no registration, no background check, no training, no oversight whatsoever.

Gloria Riviera  20:06

So what did you decide to do? I mean, at what point did you just say, someone’s got to stand up.

Speaker 3  20:14

I’m always gonna be that kind of a person. My mom introduced me to politics when I was very young. She was on the school board; I helped her door knock and stuff. So I’ve always been raised in an environment of don’t complain, do something. Complaints don’t fix the problem. So again, writing letters, and so forth. And eventually I got DHS’ attention. And they tried to shut me down in retaliation. I get a knock on my door. And normally I have one registration person come to inspect, two people at my door, we’ve received a complaint that you’re out of ratios. And I had heard from other childcare providers in the union, that when you push too much, this is what they do. They start trying to shut you down. So while I’m with my usual licensing worker, getting out all my records in child files and everything for her to lice go through. This other person who I’ve never met before, who wasn’t even from our county is going through and inspecting my home. And he does not inspect one cabinet or drawer in the child occupied areas of my home. I used one. Well, one and a half levels of my home. I used part of my basement when for indoor large motor when we couldn’t go outside. He goes up and starts inspecting every cabinet and drawer in my family’s bedrooms. Yes, my underwear drawer. No, I am telling old that they needed to do this because they found in a daycare home, a meth lab in the providers bedroom. Rarely, and that was on the news.

Gloria Riviera  22:09

Bananas. Okay, so they’re in your home and how are you keeping your cool?

Deb VanderGaast  22:14

I’m a nurse. I have teenagers.

Gloria Riviera  22:20

Maybe when I have a full teenager.

Speaker 3  22:24

I used to volunteer in an ambulance. It’s just how you deal with stress.

Gloria Riviera  22:28

You’re just sitting there, they’re going through your home, and they’re worried they’re gonna find something and like, what happened?

Speaker 3  22:35

They found nothing. Except for a few toys outside where the squirrels had chewed on him and I needed to patch the holes.

Gloria Riviera  22:43

Right. Okay, so you didn’t lose sleep over that.

Speaker 3  22:45

No, because I was furious because I like to read legal code. I have this little thing about understanding what the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution is. An illegal search. And a school couldn’t search my child’s backpack without having just cause, and to search the private areas of my home more thoroughly than the childcare areas of my home when children were not allowed in those rooms was a violation of my privacy. So okay, I am yeah, letters, calls, Iowa’s […] office. The Iowa State Attorney’s Office, they got to hear from my legislators.

Gloria Riviera  23:38

They all got to hear from you. You’re like, you know what, don’t mess with Deb.

Speaker 3  23:42

Yeah, we’re not playing intimidate me. Because at that point, I had actually, my kids, my two kids we’re getting into school, and teenagers weren’t, you know, not liking having daycare in their house. We were dealing with some issues with teenager and angst and stuff and we were having some challenges and we kind of needed to get it out of our home not to mention that that first child with the wheelchair, got a bigger wheelchair and didn’t fit in my bathroom anymore.

Gloria Riviera  24:19

So there were reasons to move out.

Speaker 3  24:21

So many reasons to move out got it and I didn’t need to be home to care for my two kids with special needs anymore. So I got my bachelor’s degree it was time to go be a school nurse, go make a great paycheck but that bachelor’s degree. And I announced to the daycare families closing.

Gloria Riviera  24:40

Oh, God was that hard?

Speaker 3  24:41

Even harder than I expected because what I got greeted with was a single parent who had adopted her special needs grandchildren, standing in my doorway. Somewhere between angry and desperate tears saying you can’t do this, I checked with you that you could care for my children before I agreed to adopt them. Now, nobody will take my kids. And if you close, I’m going to lose my job, I am going to lose my home. Or I’m going to have to give up passing you those kids. So I don’t lose my job. You promised me, that you would care for my kids. You can’t do this. And I sat at the kitchen table and cried with my husband that night, and I said, I can’t abandon them. I have made a commitment to these families. And I’m literally abandoning them. And he says, well, you know, and lots of jokes over the years, but you need to open a center because you were really running far more than a family daycare home all along, go open a center. And then I went talk to a friend who was a childcare provider. And I said, I don’t know what to do. Got to get it out of my home. Your husband’s right, open a center. So as I look around the buildings around town, didn’t see anything that worked. And then my husband said see that oh, Moose Lodge just abandoned by Walmart, it would have been condemned and abandoned for five years.

Gloria Riviera  26:25

Sounds like a perfect place for a childcare center. It was? Just tell us for our audience, what is a Moose Lodge?

Speaker 3  26:36

It’s a fraternal organization. And it’s kind of ironic, because they’re a family fraternity. And their focus is on children, they actually run a, it’s now different, but it used to be an orphanage in Illinois, near Chicago. And all their fundraising went to that. And they also have a retirement village they run. So that’s our charitable..

Gloria Riviera  27:03

So, maybe it was meant to be you’re wiping away tears. So you open this childcare center.

Deb VanderGaast  27:10

So I opened this place, it was a big battle to get it here. There were so many barriers, but we did it. And I open two rooms into the October 2014. Only half the building, thinking that then we could take this our time and finish the rest of the classrooms, because it’s gonna take a while to get up to 30 kids, I was license for, five months later, I was full. And by this point, because the building was in worse shape than we had, we had to use our home as collateral to get the loans to renovate the building and do as much of the work as we could ourselves. So we took on massive debt and put liens on our home.

Gloria Riviera  27:53

Did you go back to that grandmother and say, Don’t worry, I got you. In just a minute, Deb is going to tell me about her top priorities as a childcare candidate. And then stay tuned until the end of the show to hear more of your real childcare moments. Your voices, the voices of our no one is coming to save us community are coming right up after this.

Gloria Riviera  28:36

What are your three priorities as you run in terms of childcare? What do you say to people? What do you think will help you get elected?

Speaker 3  28:43

Well, it’s not about what I think will get me elected. Because if I don’t get elected, that’s not my goal anyway, my goal is to make change. And if it takes me getting elected to make it, that’s what I do. And so, number one, we don’t have childcare if we don’t have childcare workers, and so long as we are paying them poverty wages, we’re not going to have childcare workers. We don’t want that the people caring for our children, and making in the most important years of their life and brain development. Be the person who got turned down by Walmart or McDonald’s. And we want them to love what they’re doing. They shouldn’t have to make the kinds of sacrifices they’re doing. But unfortunately, the parents already can’t afford what we’re charging. So we can’t raise rates to pay better. And in the case of if we’re getting kids on childcare assistance, by state plays below market rate, as much as 50% below market rate. But I have decided that I’m not doing this for the money. I’m not going gotta go follow the money and childcare and refuse to take the state aid kids because they’re not profitable. So more than 50% of my kids receive childcare assistance. And so I can’t raise wages for my staff, and I keep telling them, I am so sorry. You deserve so much more than I’m giving you. I can’t afford to pay you more. So I’m going to give every ounce of my effort to do what I can to change the system so that you get paid fairly.

Gloria Riviera  30:26

Why do you think the system is the way that it is in this country?

Speaker 3  30:30

We don’t value women’s work. We don’t value children. We see it as babysitting. That is the key problem. It’s babysitting, it’s not education. It’s not early childhood education. That happens in schools. They’re moving the kids over there. And there’s another thing there. A lot of legislators think the answer this is universal pre-K for three- and four-year-olds. I heard that a lot. The problem is that leaves us with only infants and toddlers. And we lose money on those kids because of the staffing ratios. The state when we said that said, Oh, good. We’ll just raise the staffing ratios. Is it really a good idea to have eight two-year-olds with one teacher?

Gloria Riviera  31:13

Doesn’t seem like it to me.

Speaker 3  31:15

Because that’s what they’re passing? And 10 three-year-olds?

Gloria Riviera  31:21

Yeah, those numbers seem out of whack. So that’s you’re talking about a cultural shift that needs to take place. And how we see children and their care providers, right. How is that going to happen? I mean, I want it to happen. And I’m on a journey of discovering why it hasn’t happened yet. Why do you think it hasn’t?

Speaker 3  31:42

It’s happening right now. You think so? It is because our childcare system is collapsing. And it’s funny how people will appreciate what they have when they don’t have it anymore.

Gloria Riviera  31:53

Do you think it’s taken it falling apart? I mean, it was already,

Speaker 3  31:58

Unfortunately, sadly. But any changes we do now, for most are already too late. Those providers have already closed, they’re not coming back.

Gloria Riviera  32:08

Right. And you’ve seen that happen for years and years.

Speaker 3  32:11

Yeah, I mean, we have lost more than 50% of our providers, I believe it was in last five years in Iowa and that’s only counting up to they that would tally was last July, before the worker shortage hit. If you follow social media at all, and you’ve seen I’ve been retweeting what people tell me just taking their names off. They’re closing left and right, because you can’t McDonald’s can run short staffed, we can’t.

Gloria Riviera  32:43

So what do people tell you when they leave the profession? I mean, do you speak to them? Do you say, do they come to you? Or do you hear sob stories of I didn’t want to close but I had to.

Deb VanderGaast  32:54

They’re brokenhearted. I’ve seen them posting I’m in tears today, right now. It’s heartbreaking because this is our passion. We love these kids. We love these families. And when you think about it, unlike schools, we’re in contact with the parents every single day, twice a day. We are an intimate part of their lives, and they are an intimate part of our lives. This is not thanked you for your order. Have a nice day. This is very deep, personal, passionate work for all of us. And the many people who are still in childcare, even though they could get five bucks more working at Walmart. And he didn’t get benefits, are here, for the passion of it, for the love of what they do. And how sad it is that our society expects them to make great personal sacrifice to live in poverty, to do what they do.

Gloria Riviera  33:58

You know, earlier in our conversation, you mentioned your mom. And I think I just want to touch on that as we as we wrap up. You know, what did her example mean to you? I feel like it fueled your mojo.

Deb VanderGaast  34:20

[…] look tame. She is 80 years old and still actively working as a nurse for the American Red Cross. She is just tickled to death beside herself that her daughter is running for Iowa Senate and that I am following in her footsteps.

Gloria Riviera  34:46

Yeah. And does she see all that you bring to what you do? Because she was the one that said, not sure you should leave that stable nursing job.

Gloria Riviera  34:52

She sees it now. You know, you are right. That work. Wow.

Gloria Riviera  35:05

[…] You are hearing that is always a nice thing. You know what, you were right.

Speaker 3  35:11

I mean, she’s, I think she would have been scared to take that step. And I at the time I was scared too, but I had to weigh costs versus benefits. And at that point, I have life of a child on the line, you do crazy things when you’re pushed into a corner.

Gloria Riviera  35:27

You do well, you’re doing great things. From your corner. I feel like you’re a boxer coming out of the corner into this fight. And we need, I want to say thank you. Thank you for your passion for this. It’s inspiring. And I have spent a lot of time in Iowa covering politics. So maybe I’ll get down there and I can cover your campaign.

Deb VanderGaast  35:48

Thank you.

Gloria Riviera  35:56

I want to say thank you again to Deb for speaking with me. She’s a very busy woman. I appreciate it. And I will say even though the childcare situation in our country is not great. It does give me hope. I feel hopeful just thinking about Deb, and all the people out there parents, caregivers, people like you who are just done and have decided maybe to run for office. Who knows. Maybe Deb story will inspire others to get out there and run for something. I really hope so. We need all the help we can get in this fight. The Iowa state primary election is on June 7th, we’ll put a link to Deb’s website and her social media profiles in the show notes below. So you can follow along with her campaign. I know I will be watching. Alright, now it’s time for my very favorite part of every episode voice memos from you guys. Our listeners, our childcare warriors, our no one is coming to save us community. I have been loving getting to hear your real childcare moments every week. So what are we waiting for? Here they are.

Speaker 3  37:03

Hey, Gloria, my name is Emily. I am in Raleigh, North Carolina. I have two kids. They’re seven. My daughter is seven and my son is two and a half. And I’m a single mom, my ex-husband has some major issues, doesn’t really participate in parenting doesn’t have a phone or a car this with his mother who’s wonderful and very helpful. But anyways, the hilarity that’s ensuing this week is that my two-year-old is out of school for the second day in a row probably the third day in a row tomorrow because he is having diarrhea from antibiotics for an ear infection that he can track to the daycare. So I was I was fortunately able to get my ex-husband to babysit him today. Which was helpful so I could go to my office for several meetings, but tomorrow, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. And then today after work, I took the kids to the park for a playdate. My two-and-a-half-year-old fell hit his head has an enormous goose egg and then when we got home to get everybody cleaned up, he pooped on the floor because he has diarrhea from his antibiotics. So now I’m sitting in the kitchen after listening to your podcast, eating popcorn, drinking, literally watered-down wine because I can’t afford to have any semblance of a headache tomorrow morning at 6:30 when we get up and start the day over. Oh, and on top of all of that. My seven-year-old told me that she kissed a boy at school today. I’m not sure what to do with that one. Anyways, thanks for what you’re doing and love listening. Talk soon. Bye.

Speaker 4  38:42

I’m recording this in the car on my lunch break, because when else would I record something like this? I just wanted to share how my husband and I have cobbled together our childcare plan. This is not the first version and it probably won’t be the last. We have an almost three-year-old and an eight-month-old. On Mondays and Tuesdays they go to a local daycare. On Wednesdays, the eight-month-old still goes to daycare, but the almost three-year-old goes to grandma’s house. On Thursdays. My sister comes over and watches them and my mom is often there to helping out and on Fridays. I don’t work anymore on Fridays because it just made more sense to work longer hours Monday through Thursday and not work Friday so that I can be with the little ones. The reason by the way that the tiniest one goes to daycare on Wednesdays and the almost three-year-old goes to Grandma’s house is because grandma is also watching my nephew and three little ones under three and was too much for one person to handle. So we figured out a solution. It’s madness. It’s crazy. I can’t imagine what we would do if we didn’t have family close by. This is craziness. And I consider us lucky. We need to fix this.

Gloria Riviera  40:18

Oh man, I know what that is. I think a lot of us do. That feeling of trying to put together an impossible jigsaw puzzle of childcare for your children so that you can go to work. And with that other mom, bless her heart. I mean, bless her heart, settling for a situation that is not ideal for many reasons, and really not knowing what you’re going to do the next day. That is, that is what is going on. For so many. I would love for you to join our growing community of caregivers. All you have to do is to take out your phone, record a short voice memo, and then just email it to me at That’s it, so easy. I can’t wait to hear what you guys send. Okay, we have some incredible guests joining us in the next few weeks. Next Thursday, I get to talk to a very dear friend of mine, the amazing actress Sara Gilbert. You know her from shows like Roseanne, the Conners and The Talk. I’m going to talk with her about what it has been like to be a working mother in Hollywood. Sarah has three kids. I am so excited for you to hear that conversation. Then the following week, I will be speaking with Camille Bennett. She is the founder of Project Say Something. It is a grassroots organization advocating for policy that affects black lives. She is also the owner of several childcare centers in Alabama. So we’re going to talk about how things are going in Alabama, and why early childhood education is a racial justice issue. I cannot wait to speak with Camille. And then we have a great show coming up with Liz Kennedy. She’s the co-founder of Motherly Inc. and the host of the motherly podcast, I will chat with her about what we need to do to fix this system and allow mothers to thrive. Okay, that is it for this week. I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did. Thank you for listening. I will see you back here next week.

Gloria Riviera  42:29

NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US is a Lemonada media original. 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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