As a single mother to a 10-year-old boy, I am far too familiar with the impossible balancing act of parenting. Even before the pandemic, our nation’s lack of caregiving infrastructure forced working parents, especially moms like me, to make caregiving decisions at a great financial, professional, and emotional cost. We can no longer look away and deny what has always been true — that women have never had a fair shot to get ahead in our country.
Since the moment Donald Trump took office women’s rights have been under assault, and his administration continues to undermine working women with caregiving responsibilities by excluding most frontline workers from covid emergency paid leave laws.
The next president of the United States must commit to women’s equality in the eyes of the law and carry out women-focused reforms like free access to childcare and higher education that will reverse the course of growing economic inequality in our country. Without implementing policies that will give women equal footing, it will be impossible to achieve the kind of economic growth needed to exit the country’s ongoing downturn.
I believe that Joe Biden is the advocate single moms like myself and all parents in America need. He has been a single parent in a time of tragedy and unlike the vast majority of our elected officials, understands firsthand the extreme challenges faced by those balancing caregiving responsibilities with work.
Even before the pandemic, one in five moms reported losing a job due to sickness or caring for a sick child. As president, I know that Joe Biden will guarantee that paid leave is available to all Americans so that we won’t need to choose between a paycheck or caring for our children.
I also know that Joe Biden will expand access to higher education to all hardworking Americans. I attended college while parenting a young child and to this day I consider myself lucky that I was able to pursue my higher education goals — others should not have to be lucky to do the same. While scholarships covered my tuition, I needed loans to cover childcare costs. Government guaranteed childcare would have allowed me to graduate and enter the workorce sooner, but in the absence of those critical support services, I graduated with $36,000 in student loans.
I graduated from UCLA summa cum laude with a degree in Comparative Literature and I am certain that without a degree, my life today would not be the same. Too many Americans don’t get a chance to pursue their potential, not because of lack of determination, but because it’s almost impossible to take care of children and attend school at the same time.
Joe Biden’s education plan will extend educational opportunities to many working mothers. Under his plan, hardworking Americans will be able to attend community college for free and access wrap-around support services to help individuals with caregiving responsibilities stay enrolled.
Before my son turned five, I had spent over $40,000 for his childcare. If I had access to universal free preschool, I would have been able to pay back my student loans in less than three years with the amount of money I spent on daycare. I am not alone — women hold two thirds of all student loan debt in America. As a result of the country’s persistent gender pay gap and women’s lowered discretionary income due to the cost of childcare, it takes women longer to repay their student loans — and in turn spend money in our consumer economy.
Joe Biden has long said that when it comes to public education in America, we’re starting too late and ending too soon. Now is the time to solve America’s parenting crisis. That’s why Joe introduced a $775 billion plan to help working families with caregiving responsibilities. Joe Biden’s plan will establish a care infrastructure for all working parents. The proposal would offer 12 weeks of paid family leave and free universal preschool, fund the construction of new childcare facilities, and institute tax credits to help families pay for additional childcare.
Joe was among the few candidates who didn’t introduce a childcare plan during the Democratic primary and as a progressive advocate for American working mothers, I voted for the candidate who offered the most comprehensive policy platform for mothers: Bernie Sanders. While we are far beyond the point of policy discussions with the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden’s policy platform is more progressive than any other Democratic nominee’s agenda in decades.
Joe Biden’s commitment to creating a revolutionary infrastructure of care is proof that he is a leader who listens to the needs of the American people, many of whom are suffering in an economy that doesn’t work for us. Joe Biden’s promise to America is to build us back better, but for working mothers it will be a country like we have never seen before and one that we have long deserved.
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