On February 24th, Rise Community Coordinator Halimah Washington spoke at AQE’s press conference in the Bronx to demand NY State invest $5 billion in universal child care.
Good morning everyone,
My name is Halimah Washington. I am the Community Coordinator from Rise and a parent in the Bronx. Thank you, AQE, for putting this event together and inviting me to speak.
I am here to speak on behalf of parents from the Bronx, especially those that have been impacted by the family policing system, a.k.a the “child welfare” system. Universal child care is critical to me as a parent because I know the difficulties associated with not working or maintaining a job due to child care issues. I also understand the difficulty of experiencing an ACS investigation due to a lack of access to child care. Additionally, the parent organizing team at Rise, and many parents connected to Rise, have shared about the daunting and difficult procedure of obtaining child care vouchers. One parent shared that to get child care, she had to have an active ACS case.
We know that child care is a child welfare issue. Let me quickly share some facts:
>> The Bronx consistently has the highest number of reports, investigations, and removals in the city. In ACS’s most recent flash report, the Bronx had 1,169 SCR investigations in November 2021. That is just in one month!
>> According to data from the Citizens’ Committee for Children, a lack of quality and affordable child care correlates to a family’s risk of family policing involvement.
>> The cost of affording child care often exceeds more than half of the median income of families living in communities most impacted by family policing.
When parents don’t have access to child care, they are left to make tough decisions like leaving their child with an older sibling, people they don’t fully trust or even alone. This puts families at greater risk for ACS involvement. Child care is one of the most effective preventive measures we can take to reduce interaction with the family policing system—because lack of child care increases the risk for a neglect report.
Specifically, resource respite and community-based drop-off child care. Local drop-off emergency child care is crucial for parents to meet work and other obligations and minimize family stress when last-minute child care needs arise. We are overspending on child welfare because we’re underspending on child care. I’m going to say that one more time: We are overspending on child welfare because we are underspending on child care.
Parents at Rise are advocating for universal child care, along with AQE and so many other organizations. But we want to emphasize the importance of connecting access to child care for all the parents and families who received a case—or who are at risk of being investigated by ACS—because child care was always out of reach.
Child care is a family policing issue. Having affordable, accessible, quality child care is how you ensure that children and families are protected.