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Each and every day, our organizations fight for high-quality, affordable child care and early learning. As simple as that goal may sound, the journey to get there is far from it, and critically, is intertwined with the path toward racial justice and equality.
Child care and early learning is a public good that supports every part of our lives. It supports the healthy growth and development of our children, our jobs and businesses, our public health infrastructure, and our economic prosperity. Yet the workers providing this care, who are most often women, are underpaid and undervalued precisely because they are the ones doing this work. Black women in particular have cared for America’s children for centuries—first as enslaved people and then employed as low-paid workers. The child care and early learning system we have today—poverty-level wages for the workforce, racial disparities in access to quality care for children, high costs for families, suspension and expulsion policies and practices that begin in the earliest years and disproportionately affect Black children —illustrates how child care in America remains deeply connected to white supremacy, structural racism, sexism, and discrimination. Our work to secure an equitable, effective child care system must be grounded in the racialized and gendered history of care and education in this country, and address the trauma of our children and families. This work must also sow long-term systemic change that breaks down structures intentionally created to oppress, disenfranchise, and disempower Black people in this country.
And so, as part of our work as advocates for child care and early learning:
But words are not enough – and we vow to do more as advocates for high-quality, affordable child care and early learning to hold ourselves accountable to the movement for Black lives and racial justice. Being in solidarity at this moment requires us to listen to and support the leadership of Black people in our field and other movements. It also requires us to reconsider what work we do and how we do it to be actively anti-racist. We call on all child care and early learning advocates to denounce racism, white supremacy, and police violence; we call upon each of us to do the vital individual and collective anti-racist work that is required as we advocate for a more just and equitable child care system that truly demonstrates that Black families, Black educators, Black children, and Black lives matter.