Letter to the Editor: Child Care Workers Need Protections [Chicago Tribune]

July 31, 2019

To read the letter at the Chicago Tribune, click here and scroll down to the bottom of their webpage.

Chicago Tribune

What follows is the text of the letter as it ran in the newspaper on July 30:

Dear Editor,

As reported July 25 in the Tribune (“Lightfoot scores early wins on ethics reform”), the Chicago City Council voted to put significant and long-overdue protections in place for low-wage workers — including advance notice of their work schedules and compensation for last-minute changes to those schedules. Parents with consistent work schedules are less likely to experience hunger, more likely to eat meals with their children, and more likely to have their children in a consistent care setting.

The passage of the Fair Workweek Ordinance is a victory for Chicago’s working families that we should all be thrilled about, but it leaves out one of the most important parts of our city’s workforce — child care providers. Early childhood professionals are our children’s earliest teachers, and they should be afforded the same respect, rights and protections as the rest of the workforce.

Children learn more in their first three years than at any other time in their lives. The adults who care for them need stability and security, too. By exempting child care providers in Chicago — most of whom are women, especially women of color — from the Fair Workweek Ordinance, we are guaranteeing that they will be among the least protected and least paid workforce in our city.

We urge the City Council and Mayor Lori Lightfoot to work on solutions to this issue, which could include: changing child care subsidies based on attendance to enrollment, increasing reimbursement rates and making the child care funding system more equitable. These changes could be made in partnership with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his administration, who have committed to making Illinois the top state in the country for child care and early education.

— Samir Tanna,
Director of public policy, Illinois Action for Children