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'I hardly sleep': Why child care strains Latino families more than most during COVID

Kim Bojórquez, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in Parenting News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools across California to close, Rosario Correa took a closing shift at a fast food restaurant partly so that she could monitor her children's in-home learning during the day.

Each night, she arrives home from work at 2 a.m. Five and a half hours later, she wakes up to get her kids ready for online school.

Prior to the pandemic, Correa worked as a housekeeper at a Sacramento hotel during the day while her children attended school and after-school programs. Now, more than half of her paychecks go toward paying a babysitter to watch over her three children — ages 5, 12 and 15 — while she works.

"I hardly sleep," Correa, 34, said in Spanish. "It's been very difficult."

The pandemic has disrupted the lives and routines of millions of California parents. But child care and poverty experts say it especially strained low-income Latino workers with young children.

Latinos, who are "less likely than other workers to have jobs that can be done remotely," account for 38% of the state's workforce, according to a Legislative Analyst's Office report.

 

More than 3 million children in California under age 12 are Latino, according to a California Budget & Policy Center analysis. That's about half of the state's population in that age group.

"Many families are forced between paying the bills and caring for the children right now, which is a horrible place that no parent should ever have to be," said Kristin Schumacher, a senior policy analyst at the budget center.

Latino workers in California account for half of the state's essential workforce and are mostly employed in personal care, food and recreational sectors, the Legislative Analyst's Office report says.

Latinos working in the hospitality sector could have a particularly hard time finding child care, according to Kevin Ferreira van Leer, an assistant professor of child and adolescent development at California State University, Sacramento. It's an industry known for not offering set work hours or providing schedules in advance.

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