The mayor's solution to high daycare costs might mean a big change for Providence, RI families.

By Kristi Pahr
October 25, 2019
In this, frame from video from Capitol TV, Mayor Jorge Elorza holds his son Omar as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee at the Statehouse in Providence, R.I., January 29, 2019. Elorza's decision to frequently take his son to work with him has brought praise from some who say he's a role model, but also raised questions about whether he has taken it too far.

The struggle to do it all is one that parents know well. From being there for kids and spouses to being seen as a capable, competent, and reliable employee, it can be tough to manage, especially when there is a literal price tag attached. To be able to work, many families choose to put young kids in daycare but without reliable, affordable daycare, working outside the home is often not an option for one parent or the other.

One Providence, RI father is well-acquainted with the hard-to-find balance between working and affording daycare for his young son. He found a unique solution that, while not possible for everyone, certainly helps him and his wife balance their childcare needs. He brings their toddler to work with him.

The kicker though, he's actually the mayor.

As reported, Mayor Jorge Elorza and his wife fell in love with a local daycare center, as we do, only to find out that it would cost a whopping $395 per week. We looked at each other and were like, 'I guess that ain't gonna happen,'" Elorza told Today. Elorza and his wife Stephanie Gonzalez, a law student, were able to depend on their parents for help with childcare during working hours, but sometimes schedules get crossed or can't be accommodated, as with evening meetings, so baby Omar gets to go to work with dad.

"We literally drove from the daycare center to my parents' house," he explained to Today's Craig Melvin. "And that's been our daycare. So my parents take care of the baby during the week. And her parents chip in during the weekend. And her being a law student, she's just as busy as I am, if not more. So we're, like, just juggling and struggling every day like other parents."

While most of the feedback from city employees has been positive, Elorza admits there has been a bit of criticism. Some people have noted that if Elorza was a mother instead of a father, bringing a baby to the office would likely be perceived as problematic instead of cute and quirky. "There have been comments, that if I was a woman and I was bringing my child into work, then that would be seen very, very differently. I think that's true. I think there is still absolutely a double standard. The extension of that isn't, 'Let's criticize Jorge the way women are criticized,' it's 'Let's not criticize women for doing it either.'"

The mayor has segued his experience into policy decisions that allow for more freedom for parents when searching for childcare options. The city has started offering summer camps for children aged 5-13 for only $5 per week and he plans to implement universal pre-K for all Providence residents. Way to go, Mr. Mayor!


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