Testimony of Jamar Day Community Organizer, DC Action before the Committee of the Whole

DC Action Public Testimony Logo
June 24, 2021
Person Testifying: Jamar Day
Title: Community Organizer, DC Action
Testimony Heard By: Council of the District of Columbia
Type of Hearing: Committee of the Whole Hearing - Fiscal Year 2022

Good Afternoon Chairman Mendelson and the Councilmembers on the Committee of the Whole. My name is Jamar Day, and I reside in Ward 5. Currently, I serve as the Community Organizer with Under 3 DC.

For almost two years, I have spent time contacting or meeting with child care providers all over the city. I have forged relationships with them and their families and have understood their needs on a deeper level, including the deep need for public investment in increasing early educator compensation. The conversations I’ve had with providers and parents make it clear to me that $60 million is necessary for the sustainability of early learning programs so that families can access the child care they need. Today, I sit before you as one, but I bring the voices of many.

In Ward 7, I sat with Rosylyn Taylor, the Owner of Lia’s Rainbow, a Home-Based Child Development Center located in the Kenilworth/Aquatic Gardens community. In this neighborhood, most essential services such as Child Care are located away from families’ homes. Ms. Taylor has expressed that she is struggling to find high-quality, dedicated staff who are willing to grow in the job. She often has to use HS/College Students who she supports in getting certified. These same students often leave because she cannot afford to pay them competitively. Ms. Taylor asks for the DC Council’s support to attract teachers and pay them fair wages according to their skills, credentials, and experience.

Also located in Ward 7 is LaTrell Fitchett. She is an Under 3 DC leader and an educator at Promoting Love & Wisdom, a women-owned small childcare business that received a Better Business Bureau A+ rating and is CBE certified. She wants to share with the Council that she is still struggling to stay afloat because of COVID. Her business has 10 students on its current roster, but limits the number of children to 8 in order to have two staff present to care for them.. She has many more children still enrolled in the program and listed on the roster, but they cannot attend due to current immunization issues. OSSE is only paying for 10 absences per month, where previously they would have paid for the full month, 21-23 days. If these children had parents that paid privately, the parent would have to pay for the full month to maintain the slot for their child. She says OSSE should be paying business owners like her to maintain the space. She wants me to ask: Why are providers penalized for circumstances they cannot control? We still need to pay bills for our business and are still ready and able to provide childcare services.

Under 3 DC recently held a Ward 8 Town Hall where we invited all the Child Care Providers in Ward to have an off-the-record conversation with Councilmember Trayon White. The providers who shared their stories expressed their dedication to early education and their struggles with earning such low wages for the specialized work they do. You’ve heard a number of them testify today.

In closing, you have heard from voices all over the District who have stressed that child care is a priority. Our budget is a moral document that displays the Council’s commitment to the citizens you serve. I urge you to use this moment to address a tax system that has for too long protected our wealthiest residents and most prosperous businesses. Raise revenue and increase the wages of the Black and brown early educators who serve their families. A just recovery is an equitable recovery. Tax justice equals racial justice.