Virginia Senator Mark Warner Attends Roundtable on Childcare Workforce Infrastructure at Campagna Center in Alexandria

Dr. Tammy Mann (left), President and CEO of Campagna Center with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

ALEXANDRIA, VA—On the morning of Friday, May 21, 2021, Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D) attended a roundtable discussion at the Campagna Center on S. Washington Street in Alexandria, Virginia, to address how COVID-19 has affected the child care workforce.

Dr. Tammy Mann, the President and CEO of the Campagna Center initiated the roundtable with a statement, “Parents need access to diversity of support.”

It was not until the COVID-19 crisis that the child care sector has been recognized as an essential industry. The devastation of COVID-19 is intersectional in its effects on families in the U.S. To address a problem that spans such diverse demographics, we must include diversity in the solution.

The questions proposed to Senator Warner, and his answers to them, paid mind to this problem of diverse support.

Senator Warner began the discussion with a welcome and a thank you, “Thank you all for what you’ve done and what you will do for kids going forward. What can we do to help?”

Senator Warner listens to local childcare workers’ concerns. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)

Leaders of the child care sector across Alexandria voiced their comments and questions for the senator.

Sandra Redmore, the Director of Clarendon Childcare addressed the issue of infrastructure to support children from infancy into higher education. “It is going to take working as a whole system, investing in the whole system, from birth to higher education.”

Nicole Lazarte, the Infant Lead Teacher at ACCA Child Development Center, addressed the issue of indefinite financial support. “A one-time grant doesn’t equal compensation,” she claimed.

This issue of one-time capital was a theme which paralleled diversity at Friday’s roundtable. Senator Warner listened with thought and responded with candor, applying both his feelings of compassion and knowledge of data to his answers.

The Senator encouraged the acquisition of those one-time capital payments—In March, the American Rescue Plan was signed into law, providing approximately $800 million to Virginians, $306 million of which is specifically designated towards Virginia Child Care and Development Block Grants—but he went beyond the numbers to suggest potential future solutions.

Senator Warner posited potential steps to take towards achieving, if not solutions, then at least progress for supporting the childcare workforce.

“How do we get everyone who’s doing this on the same page?” Senator Warner queried. “Everyone, politicians included, has to be on the same page across all the sectors of child care. Go back to other senators; do not miss the one-time capital window; maybe we can turn that into a revolving fund.”

While this was no official proposal, uniting the public, private, home, and faith based sects of child care alongside government officials would attend to not only the concerns regarding widespread support for this workforce, but also the concerns regarding upholding the diversity of that support for this workforce.

“We must keep the diversity of our sector intact,” concluded Dr. Mann. Senator Warner certainly listened to that request on Friday, and truly took it to heart.

Senator Warner waves as he exits the roundtable discussion. (Photo Grace Billups Arnold)