The Care Gap

Source: Michelle Chen, Dissent Magazine, Winter 2016
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….The low wage floor in the field of early childhood care acts as a subsidy for wealthier parents purchasing top-quality childcare. And here’s where class divides intertwine with care gaps: poorer teachers and caregivers who are raising children of their own can’t afford the high quality of education they’re trained to provide for other people’s kids. And so, like many other working-class parents, teachers’ children too fall into the yawning developmental gap between rich and poor kids, a gap that is created before they even learn how to count. As childcare becomes more professionalized but wages stay low, the gulf expands between well-off families, who offload care work onto daytime surrogates, and the service workers who absorb the burden, often for poverty wages and at the expense of their own kids. Achieving real equity means state support for working conditions that allow for healthy parenting and a decent livelihood. Investing in early education benefits everyone involved, whether they are paying, earning, or learning…..