It Takes a Village: What Child Care Really Looks Like in America

As the cost of raising a child in 2023 continues to skyrocket, caregivers are leaning on their communities more than ever.

Illustration about building a child care village

A Note From Parents' Editor-In-Chief

Days after my oldest daughter, Eva, was born 10 years ago, my aunt came to visit and meet the baby. I must’ve looked completely overwhelmed to her because she promised to come back the next day before we had even said our goodbyes. Months later, when my maternity leave ran out and I reluctantly prepared to return to work, she agreed to be our full-time nanny. Her main qualification? Trustworthiness. She was familia after all. And in Latin culture, with its emphasis on family as a source of unwavering support, that was plenty.

While I did pay my aunt, I am forever grateful to her for helping me navigate new parenthood all those years ago and giving me the peace of mind I needed to leave my apartment each day and earn a living. I didn’t have many people to lean on—still don’t—but she made me realize that it’s impossible to raise kids in this country without some form of social support.

This need is even more urgent now as already stressed parents and caregivers navigate a crisis that has left many scrambling for available, affordable, and quality childcare. It’s hard to shake the feeling that once again families have been left to fend for themselves.

That’s why it’s important to be OK asking for and accepting help. Just look around your community: Can another parent at school handle pickup? Are your neighbors up for doing a babysitting swap so that you’re trading each other’s kids back and forth? Is there a parent support group you can join? What about a retired relative ready to dote on your little one with love, as was my case?

Building a village is far from easy, but it is essential to our well-being and that of our children’s. And right now, it is the one thing we can depend on to carry some of the weight parents are lugging around as we wait for a solution.

Grace Bastidas, Editor-in-Chief