By Gina M. Fromer
Most people are surprised when I tell them that I was born and raised in Bayview-Hunters Point. As a proud sixth generation San Franciscan, I love our city: the water, the diversity, the microcosms of communities. Western Addition, Potrero Hill, Hunters Point—these neighborhoods were my playgrounds as a child. I remember taking four buses to get to the Presidio, where my mother would sit under a tree and read as we played in the grass.
How can we reconcile a deep love for our city with what is going on right now? In the wake of unspeakable violence and rising inequities against Black communities, our country, state, city, and neighborhoods are hurting. As a Black woman and mother of six Black sons, I can never be free from the worry that my children could, at any moment, be profiled, harassed, wrongfully arrested or harmed by the very authorities charged with protecting and serving us.
As a community, we mourn, organize, and protest for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and San Francisco’s Sean Monterrosa. These tragic losses come on top of so many dismaying trends, from families and children in cages to the Coronavirus pandemic that is disproportionately impacting communities of color.
What can we do today to ensure a better tomorrow? What kind of world will we leave behind for our children?
We can fight. It’s what we’ve always done. We stand up for what we believe in because that’s how we force change to happen. We are a city of fighters.
The organization I lead, Children’s Council of San Francisco, was founded on a fight: there weren’t enough resources for child care and early education to support women being in the workforce. Forty-five years ago, a group of mothers did what they always do: they organized in a basement to bring about real change for working families. They did it because high quality child care gives women and families opportunities for a better life.
When I was a young, single mom with three kids, I was tired of living in poverty. I turned to Children’s Council for help. I walked away knowing where I could safely send my children during the day while I finished my degree at San Francisco State. Child care changed my entire life.
With this pandemic, I’m deeply concerned about families in San Francisco. What will happen if there aren’t enough child care providers left for families to return to work? We already know that women are getting pushed out the workforce. We know that child care programs are hurting, that some may never reopen, and most are without a financial safety net.
I am proud of our city for organizing quickly to provide emergency funding so children of essential workers can receive care. Now it’s time to shore up our whole community of child care providers, so all families have a safe, enriching and high quality place to send their children when they are working.
Child care is an essential component to re-opening our economy and fighting inequality. It’s what will help working families counteract the negative economic impacts of this pandemic and level the economic opportunity playing field. For an industry that is already hanging on by a thread, we can’t afford a 10% cut to child care funding recently proposed by state and local budgets.
At Children’s Council, we will keep fighting and advocating to support and sustain our child care infrastructure. We hope you will join us in this fight. The future of our city and our children’s wellbeing depend on it.
Gina M. Fromer is CEO of the Children’s Council of San Francisco.