Childcare is a Life and Death Issue

Last week, a Long Island freelance news anchor, Michael Baldwin was called into work for Thursday. In this economy, you don't say no. Scrambling for a sitter until late Wednesday evening, with the baby's mother away, Baldwin finally called someone he did not know well, an acquaintance of his wife's, Teresa Coffey.

"And finally when I had no one else to call, I called her on Wednesday night and she said she would love to do it." Michael Baldwin

In the hours he was gone, an as yet unexplained, tragic accident occurred. Both Ms Coffey and the one month old baby were found dead when Baldwin returned home from work. Police have ruled out carbon monoxide poisoning and indicate the possibility of a medical condition that caused Ms Coffey to fall on top of the baby. This is not as yet confirmed and investigation continues. Local reporting here.

"There is no reason to believe this is anything other than a terrible accident at this point in time." Suffolk Police Lt. Det. Gerard Pelkofsky

Mr Baldwin speaks to reporters here.

I am shocked on two levels. One is obvious devastation and empathy for the two families involved, who have lost their loved ones. 

The other is yet another reminder that most families have both parents juggling responsibilties and that Dads are in this too. Childcare is complex and we as a nation are seemingly unwilling to do a thing about it. We leave parents with little resources and support systems to simply figure it out on their own. We blame mothers for working outside the home with zero acknowledgement that it is not a straightforward issue for any family. So, are we going to blame fathers for working outside the home now too?

When are we going to pound down the doors of our private and public sector leaders to scream "enough is enough"? 

We cobble together a series of solutions when our children our small, but then our kids get older and we lose our passion for the problem - it belongs to the next group now.  Mothers, fathers, extended families and friends, we all need to keep fighting this fight!

We have to muster the energy to lobby for innovative public-private solutions that have legs on them. Affordable, safe, consistent, quality child care can not depend solely on your zipcode, income and proximity to extended family. Lives depend on it.

Yeah, and happy Labor Day.

Things you can do.

  • Join an organization like to receive regular actions you can take in your community.
  • Write a blog post about your childcare stories and add your voice to the call for affordable, safe, consistent childcare in America.
  • Write to your local political leaders. If they are serious about kick-starting our economy and getting Americans working, then an integrated childcare strategy has to be at the top of the list. 
  • Tweet your thoughts using #childcare.