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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Marshall

Caregiving as Infrastructure...CACFP as Infrastructure?

Pandemic Highlights Need for Child Care

Like many other parts of our society, the pandemic has shed light on the child care crisis our community already knew about: Child care deserts, an underpaid and undervalued workforce which disproportionately impacts black, latinx and immigrant women and the price so high families spend, in some states, more than rent on child care tuition. These were dire issues before the pandemic shut down thousands of child care programs across California and the United States.

However, now, everyone sees it - child care is essential. And the federal government put money behind it.

Congress and Biden administration heard all of the advocates over the last year. $50 billion dollars (since the pandemic started) in emergency and stabilization funds has been allocated to the child care field.

Infrastructure Plan

To take that even further, the Biden Administration's Infrastructure plan includes money and supports for caregivers asserting that child care - caregiving in general - is infrastructure. Most think of infrastructure as bridges, roads, electric grids but caregiving as infrastructure raises some eyebrows. "If care work makes the economy possible, and its absence makes the economy impossible, what is it if not infrastructure? Most people, however, remain stubbornly opposed to the idea." (How Domestic Labor Became Infrastructure)

For now, the plan has $25 billion dollars in it to improve access to child care slots by investing in the buildings in which child care takes place. A second plan would further invest in child care. There are some advocates that take pause with the focus on just the buildings and not the actual caregivers - separating the two could lead to new empty buildings with nobody to provide the care if we don't address the challenges and burdens that the caregiving workforce faces. (Child Care is Infrastructure. Biden's Relief Bill Understands That)

CACFP as Infrastructure?

A challenge to you! How would you argue that CACFP is infrastructure? How would you tell the CACFP as infrastructure story? CACFP is part of child care. We can't work and learn if we can't eat nutritious meals. Child care providers rely on the funds from CACFP in order to support their businesses and feed children nutritious meals. Family child care providers cannot participate on the food program without sponsors. CACFP still needs funds to recover from COVID-19 losses. Geri Henchy, Director of Nutrition Policy and Early Childhood Programs, at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), tells us that the infrastructure plan is where the CACFP community should ask for emergency funds for CACFP. Listen to Geri talk to us about the infrastructure plan to get inspiration for your CACFP is Infrastructure story. (CACFP Town Hall - minute 57:34)

Share in the comments below or email me your CACFP is Infrastructure argument/story.


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