KPBS Event Delves Into Childcare Crisis
Speaker 1: 00:00 For many parents of young children by far the most challenging thing about the pandemic has been how to manage childcare, the stress of coping with work and home life facing tough decisions every day about how to balance competing demands is leading to what some mental health professionals say is emerging as a mental health crisis with no end in sight. The childcare profession is itself in crisis as center struggled to stay open KPBS, investigative reporter, Claire triggers her a mother herself has been reporting on these issues. And tonight she's moderating a panel discussion. Claire joins us now with a preview. Welcome Claire. Thank you so much. So now this childcare crisis is not just an issue you've been reporting on, is it it's affected you personally? What's your own experience that inspired you to cover it? Speaker 2: 00:44 Yes. Um, I mean, I'm a little ashamed to admit. I don't think that it's something that I would have initially thought of to cover. If I weren't dealing with it myself, I have a, he just turned three a couple of weeks ago. And, um, my son was in childcare until about mid March, along with most everyone else. Um, his childcare closed. And so then we were left trying to figure out, um, my husband and I both work. We've mostly been working from home, but as anyone with a three year old will tell you, it's pretty much impossible to get anything done well, while you have a three-year-old around. So, um, so, you know, we had to figure out how to navigate that. And we ended up pretty quickly, um, bringing in, uh, one of his teachers from, from his school who had close to help us out part of the time and then splitting up the time, the rest of the time. Speaker 2: 01:41 And now his school has been back open since about, um, since the beginning of August. So he's been back there and, um, so far so good, we made the decision to send him back. Um, but yes, yes, it was definitely early, you know, it's also, um, it's just a tough decision to make when he was in preschool before, uh, he was sick about every week, pretty much. I think he would have three days where he would not have a runny nose and a cough, and then he would go back into it. So we were thinking, how are we going to send him back with this pandemic going on? But the school changed so much. Uh, the kids wear masks all day, which no one believes me, but they really actually do. Um, the teachers wear masks, obviously there's screenings before they go in. And so he's been back, you know, for a month and a half now, knock on wood. Hasn't even had a cold. So, so far so good. Um, you know, obviously things can not, can always change, but Speaker 1: 02:46 Very stressful. I mean, do you see that this is an issue affecting thousands of families, but it's sort of gotten lost. I'm all the other concerns with businesses like, you know, restaurants and hair salons and schools have been much more vocal about their problems. Right? Well, Speaker 2: 03:00 That's something that I've seen over and over again as covering this topic is having a young child is a temporary condition. So, you know, unless you have a kid under five, I don't think that you're much thinking about having a kid under five. Um, and so, and then the people who do have kids under five are just totally overwhelmed. Um, you know, dealing with trying to work, take care of their kids. So they're not really going to be out there lobbying or, you know, joining working groups or trying to influence decision makers. They're just trying to, to deal with their own lives and stay afloat. So it's something that, you know, doesn't really get any attention. Um, but obviously is hugely impacting the people who are in the midst of dealing with it. Speaker 1: 03:50 And in your reporting, if you found it's affecting more, some communities more than others. Speaker 2: 03:55 Yes, definitely. I mean, first of all, anyone who's an essential worker. They don't have the option to work from home. Uh, so if their childcare closed, they were scrambling to find another childcare. And in some of my reporting, I talked to people who worked at a restaurant. Um, and when the restaurants were initially closed, that was fine. She was home with her kids, but then they reopened restaurants, um, before her childcare open. So she was left trying to figure, figure that out. The other thing is that, um, when you look at the demographics of who works in childcare, it's almost exclusively women and a lot of women of color. And so then when you're worrying about, you know, people being out in working with kids and potentially getting sick, it's those same populations who are also more vulnerable to COVID-19 just generally across the board, as we've seen from, from all of the statistics. Speaker 1: 04:53 How do you think that all of the stressors and the changes will affect this generation of under fives and are growing up? Do you see them perhaps as being more resilient than the adults? Speaker 2: 05:03 Yeah. I think that in a lot of ways they are kids seem to just kind of accept things. Um, you know, my own son where he say, Oh, this is closed, this is closed. And he says, Oh, okay. But you know, it'll, it'll open some time. It's like, um, he, he just kind of takes things as they come. I think the thing that the medical professionals and parents and everyone are worried about is if this continues to go on just the lack of social socialization, um, if kids are continuing to be out of schools or just be at home or, you know, not be able to go out and play with other kids, um, what impact that will have. And, you know, I don't think we've ever had anything like this before. So we don't really know what, what impact it will have a year or two years down the line could affect a generation Speaker 1: 05:58 A lot to talk about on tonight's discussion, which is a free discussion online at seven o'clock. How can people participate Claire? Speaker 2: 06:05 Right. So it's a, it's a virtual panel. Um, you can sign up at kpbs.org/events. Um, and we ask that you register in advance, uh, and you'll, you'll get a link to participate. We're going to have, um, an epidemiologist who also has a three year old. So she's kind of an expert in two different ways. Um, a woman from UC Berkeley who researches childcare and the childcare industry and a childcare provider and a parent. And so these experts are going to be able to answer questions while I have a lot of time for audience questions, if they want to submit questions, um, I can pose them to the experts. And then we will have a discussion about this industry, which is, you know, um, changing and, uh, in, in a lot of trouble unless things change. I think Speaker 1: 06:52 I'm sure it'll be a great discussion. Thanks so much, Claire. Thank you. That's KPBS, investigative reporter, Claire Traeger, sir.