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"Through the Night"

How the child care industry fell apart

The Econ Extra Credit Team Aug 19, 2021
Heard on:

Child care providers often make both personal and financial sacrifices that go beyond the duties of a normal 9-to-5 job. They have a spirit of generosity that comes from how committed they are to the families they’ve bonded with. As Marketplace’s David Brancaccio put it, these are less businesses and more “labors of love.” 
This month’s documentary selection, “Through the Night,” gave us a glimpse of a 24/7 day care in New York. Deloris and Patrick Hogan, who have run their center for three decades, toil to meet the needs of the children they’re looking after.

Many early childhood caregivers struggle with the wages they’re paid — the national median salary stands at just $11.65 an hour. This week, David spoke with Mariana Dale, an early childhood reporter for KPCC and LAist, about the financial obstacles caregivers face. 

“I’ve talked to providers who are going out to Target and spending their own money to provide this for families, they are taking food out of their own pantries to feed these families,” Dale said. “They’re not putting in money to their retirement savings or being able to pay for critical health care. And they’re doing this because they know that the families they serve often can’t afford to pay any more than they already do.”

The COVID-19 crisis, like it did to so much of the country’s labor force, strained caregivers who had to adapt to health protocols by purchasing masks and protective equipment for families and staff.  

“These all added on top of the already expensive cost of providing child care, while at the same time, they were often able to serve fewer families, either because of public health guidelines or because of just dropping enrollment and concern from families,” Dale said. “And so the business model of child care really fell apart.”

You can hear David’s full interview with Dale here, and check out his interview with the director of the documentary, Loira Limbal, here. She explained how individuals like Deloris end up shouldering responsibilities that should instead be handled on a societal level. 

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