Is This as Good as Childcare Gets?

Article/Op-Ed in The Atlantic
Oct. 4, 2016

Nan Mooney wrote in The Atlantic about child care in Massachusetts. The state is, by many metrics, among the states doing the best job at providing for its youngest residents. But its system is still a letdown.

“Money has been a constant struggle,” says Kim Silva of her 30 years as an early-education teacher in Massachusetts. “One unexpected expense can put you in the hole for months.”
Silva, 46, is the lead teacher in a preschool classroom at NorthStar, a childcare center in New Bedford, Massachusetts, that largely serves children whose parents’ income is low enough that they are eligible to receive financial subsidies from the state to help pay for care. Silva has worked there since she was 15, moving from aide to teacher to lead teacher. Yet after more than three decades—and a newly acquired college degree—she makes only $11.91 an hour. That’s $25,000 a year.  
Silva speaks with an unqualified passion for the work she does. But she is also a single mother who has scraped and scrambled to support herself and raise her daughter, now 21, on an early educator’s salary. Silva has had to move back in with her own mother at times and has always been on food stamps. To afford even basics like food, clothing, rent, and utilities, Silva works on weekends as a personal care assistant—cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and running errands—a position that, at $13.68 an hour, pays more than her job as a lead teacher.