Why Affordable Childcare Is an Economic Justice Issue

It’s a dilemma that many working parents face — scale back their career ambitions to focus on being a parent, or work hard and, ideally, increase their earning power. More money means a more comfortable life, especially if you’re a one-income family. On the other hand, working more means more time away from home. And if you can’t rely on family to care for your kids, that means paying for daycare or nannying.

Part of the reason economists speak about a cycle of poverty is that almost all of the steps one can take to get out of it have a downside. For many single parents in the developed world, that downside is the high cost of childcare. If your work is precarious, or if you’re in a low-income position, often it’s cheaper to stay home — which means relying on government assistance or other forms of external support.

Do the Math

In Toronto, Canada, the average cost of daycare is over $1700/month. While subsidies are available, what parent — let alone a single parent — has the time and energy to research them, do the paperwork, gather the documentation and submit it to the appropriate offices? Add to that the fact that many subsidized daycares have long waiting lists, and it’s easy to see why childcare services are out of reach for many.

The high cost of childcare and the barriers to access — in Toronto and other major cities — reinforces the cycle of poverty many single parents face.

Who’s to Blame?

It’s easy to want to look for a scapegoat in the high cost of childcare, but the answers aren’t so simple. Domestic workers deserve to be paid fairly for their labour — indeed, many are not — and most parents would agree that facilities that care for children should be well-regulated to ensure a standard of quality and care.

Rather than trying to look for someone who is profiting unduly from the cost of childcare, let’s instead consider the benefits of treating daycare as a public service, like we do schooling or healthcare.

Why Cities Should Make Daycare Accessible to All

Access to no-cost or affordable daycare empowers single parents to make changes — whether it’s going back to school or simply putting in more hours — that can improve their situation in the long run. And if those changes lead to fewer people relying on public assistance, it’s an investment that’s worth it in the big picture.

It’s not just parents’ careers that benefit. Children in full-time daycare enjoy safe, supervised socialization with other kids their age. Before they can start school, daycare provides structure to young kids’ lives, helping them learn rules and adopt routines that reduce parents’ stress.

Getting Help Now

The fight for affordable childcare is a work in progress, but if you need help now, contact One Parent. We help single parents find childcare solutions and navigate the complex process of applying for subsidies. Contact our head office to speak with an intake worker today.

Started from the Bottom — Drake’s Rise from a Single Parent Home to the Top of the Pop Charts

Few musicians today can claim the level of commercial success and cultural significance that Drake has. The rapper, whose most recent album, 2018’s Scorpion, broke single-day streaming records on Apple Music and Spotify, has been a presence on the pop charts since the release of his 2008 mixtape, So Far Gone.

Drake’s autobiographical lyrics have led to considerable interest in his upbringing and personal life. By this point, Drake’s story is well known — raised primarily by a single mother, he first came to fame as a cast member of the TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation before dedicating himself to music.

A Rough Start in a Rich Neighbourhood

Every great rapper has a rags-to-riches origin story and Drake is no exception. Drake spent his earliest years on Weston Road, a low-income area in Toronto, Canada. Despite a move to the more affluent Forest Hill neighborhood, the rapper’s childhood was anything but comfortable. “I grew up with a mom who was deep in debt because she wanted best for family,” he told CBC in 2013.

Most of the anecdotes about Drake’s early years focus on his contentious relationship with his dad, who moved back the US when the rapper’s parents divorced. Often overlooked are the sacrifices his mom, Sandi Graham, made — just one example of how society undervalues the labor of single parents.

Sandi Graham is one of many single moms who have struggled to do better for their kids. Even as an English teacher, making ends meet with a single paycheque was a challenge. As Drake said, Sandi “was willing to live far beyond her means for her family.”

Working to Avoid the Mistakes of the Past

“Of course, as life takes shape and teaches you your own lessons, I end up in this situation where I don’t have the fairytale,” Drake told LeBron James on his HBO show, The Shop. When news of the rapper’s son, Adonis, leaked to the world in summer 2018, it appeared Drake was repeating the patterns of his parents — a carefree musician leaves a child behind, leaving the mother to do all the work.

But the reality was somewhat more nuanced. Drake has spoken openly about the steps he’s taking as a single father to avoid some of the pain he experienced: “I don’t have any desire for him to not love his mother. I don’t ever want the world to be angry at his mother […] I’m just really excited to be a great father.”

Of course, being a millionaire rapper makes all of this a lot easier. But for many who grow up with absent parents, the emotional damage leaves scars that are as significant as any financial hardship.

The Importance of Self-Reflection

Unfortunately, mental health and self-care are both things that single parents rarely have time to prioritize. By being open and honest about his own struggles, Drake is showing a willingness to grow in a difficult situation — and recognizing when and how he can break the cycle that caused him pain.