Miss Selma, from Rockford, Ill., lives in a home with three generations of her family. As a proud mother and grandmother, she took care of her loved ones for much of her life.
But 10 years ago, the unexpected happened: Miss Selma had a stroke. Now, the roles have reversed, and Miss Selma’s daughter takes care of her.
I had the opportunity to meet Miss Selma during a recent visit to Lifescape Adult Day Center in Rockford, where she receives care during the day so her daughter can go to work. Families with stories like Miss Selma’s are far too common. Many don’t have a service like Lifescape to turn to, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for improved access to affordable community care for our children and aging or disabled relatives.
But finally, brighter days are here as our actions to defeat the global pandemic are working. COVID-19 rates are plummeting. Unemployment claims are falling. And the economy is projected to grow faster than any time in the past 40 years.
Much of this is owed to the passage of the American Rescue Plan. The bold relief package that I proudly helped pass into law in March put checks in people’s pockets, helped get our kids back in the classroom safely, boosted support for small businesses and towns, and accelerated vaccine distribution.
Now, the opportunity to build on that progress and make lasting change is within in our reach.
Our nation is at a historic crossroads, and we cannot let this moment pass us by. Our next steps are clear: It’s time to create jobs, get people back to work and grow our economy by investing in the way we move, live and build.
For too long, we have traveled on crumbling roads and bridges, flown through airports in dire need of repair, left much of rural America without high-speed internet and seen locks and dams grow old. That’s why we need a once-in-a-generation investment in our infrastructure that will create millions of good-paying, union jobs to rebuild our country and take meaningful action to address each of these longstanding issues.
And as we rebuild our physical infrastructure, we must simultaneously invest in the infrastructure of our families, as Miss Selma’s story shows us.
Tackling these issues together would be a “game changer” for working people.
That’s what Misi Birdsall says. She’s the program director for Project NOW’s Head Start programs for early child care education in Kewanee, Ill. During my visit there, she explained how we would increase wages for her staff, make child care more affordable for working parents and upgrade child care centers.
Without the proper support for our care providers, and with 1.8 million fewer women in the workforce than before the pandemic, maintaining the status quo won’t allow us to fully recover and rebuild.
As a mother of three boys, who worked full time as we raised our family, I understand how important reliable, affordable care is to a family’s success. It’s time our families have the tools they need. Because, at the end of the day, we all want the same things: to be able to send our kids to good schools, travel on safe roads, take care of our loved ones and those who look after them and put in an honest day’s work to provide for our families. Now, more than ever, Congress must take action to invest in our infrastructure and have the backs of hardworking families, like Miss Selma’s, who are doing everything they can to get ahead.
Bustos has represented Illinois’ 17th District since 2013.
Region: Galena,City: Dubuque, IA,Opinion
July 4, 2021 at 05:40AM