Elevating Generations of Black Women in Child Care

by Chanelle Brown, Policy Council Manager

This Black History Month, we would like to pay homage to Black women in the child care field. Black women in the United States have been the pioneers, trailblazers and sheroes of the child care workforce for centuries. The roots of our industry stem from the immeasurable contributions of low-paid or unpaid caregivers who ensured children grew up in a safe and nurturing environment.

Since slavery, Black women have provided warmth and care for children that were not their own. Pre-emancipation era, they were forced to feed and care for not only the children of their slave masters, but also the children of other slaves that had been stolen from their birth mothers. Post-slavery, they were overrepresented in the service industry, working in low wage occupations such as caregivers, maids and dishwashers. Their legacy created the foundation of early care, which is the bedrock of the American workforce.

For centuries, caregiving has been an undervalued field with low wages and a workforce shortage. In San Francisco, the Black population continues to decrease due to many factors including the high cost of child care, gentrification and the high cost of living. Families struggle to meet their basic necessities and have to make tough decisions every day just to feed and support their children. Affordable and high-quality educational opportunities and economic prosperity continues to be out of reach for families. The need to provide relief and develop solutions to support Black families and children in San Francisco at the macro level has never been more urgent.

The Black Early Educators Policy Council, with Children’s Council’s Maiysha Dickerson and Chanelle Brown

At Children’s Council of San Francisco, we are giving voice to Black women in the City who are championing Black children and families, serving as advocates on the local, state and national level. The Black Early Educators Policy Council (BEEPC) was created in an effort to recruit and retain Black early educators in San Francisco, improve the educational outcomes of Black children and serve as a safe space for Black early educators in our city. The phase one work of BEEPC was publishing a policy paper centering the needs of Black children, families and early educators. Phase two of their work involves advocating for those policy recommendations to be implemented on a local and state level, making them a true reality for our community.

Serving as the Policy Council Manager overseeing the Black Early Educators Policy Council’s policy work and programmatic scope has been one of my greatest joys. Their pride and deep knowledge of the child care economy is inspiring and is a daily reminder of the sheer brilliance and passion Black women early educators have for caring for our children. Let us all continue to honor their historical contributions and celebrate their achievements in the child care industry.

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