The following proposal was approved via supermajority vote at the 2022 DSA-LA Convention.


DSA-LA for Universal Childcare Pt. II (2022)

Co-authors: Aryn B., Max B., Felix H., Dylan L., Matt S., Carley T., Farzana W.

Lead contacts: Carley T., Farzana W. To submit comments and amendments, please email: childcare4all@dsa-la.org

Whereas childcare is simultaneously unaffordable, scarce, and much-needed by working class Angelenos,

Whereas current conditions in the childcare industry are determined by the profit motive rather than the needs of children and their parents,

Whereas universal childcare initiatives are a popular and deeply felt public good organizing effort that address both the safety and socialization of children as well as the pay and conditions of workers in these programs,

Whereas the Los Angeles chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA-LA) has already spent the last year laying the groundwork for the advancement of a strong Childcare for All campaign that is slated to last a period of several years,

Whereas the past year of organizing has demonstrated clearly to organizers across the chapter the importance of patient, intentional, and strategic base-building through widely and deeply felt campaign demands,

Whereas the Childcare for All campaign is a strategic opportunity to advance class formation across Los Angeles and expand the working-class membership, local relevance, and political power of DSA-LA,

Whereas the recent primary victory of DSA-LA electoral candidate Hugo Soto-Martinez presents an opening for DSA-LA organizers to to have more meaningful conversations about socialism not only in CD13 but across Los Angeles,

Be it therefore resolved that DSA-LA renew the chapter Childcare for All priority campaign for a second consecutive year.



Background

The Problem


In the first year of the pandemic alone, over 500 of Los Angeles County’s licensed childcare centers permanently closed their doors. In the same time period, more than 3,000 permanent closures were recorded statewide. These conditions shed light on multiple problems with our current childcare setup. 


For parents, gaining access to any childcare – much less quality, affordable childcare – has become even more difficult than before. Because spots have become more competitive, tuition and fees have increased, and the means-tested programs that do exist to provide support are difficult to access and neglect to meet local need by a large margin


For the childcare providers that remain open, the decision to accept more children into their care is oftentimes hindered by severe understaffing. This is due in large part to the undesirability of nonunion childcare jobs, influenced heavily by low wages, poor working conditions, lack of benefits for childcare workers, and the fact that many potential or former childcare workers are themselves parents of small children.


Finally, this crisis affects children most of all, as they are the ones who must receive the care at hand. Children deserve safe and sanitary childcare centers, dependable meals, undistracted and loving teachers, and abundant opportunities for play-based learning. The present state of the childcare industry in Los Angeles County, as well as nationally, cannot guarantee any of these conditions and are often incentivized to deprioritize the needs of children in service of other demands from management, licensing authorities, and boards.


As socialists, these problems lie at the nexus of our political objective to advance working class interests and expel the profit motive from the social institutions and services that we – and our children – need in order to live.


The Solution


The socialist solution to these problems is to universalize our childcare system. This means making childcare free at the point of service for all, regardless of income or jurisdiction. It also means providing coverage for all forms of childcare: infant-toddler daycare, preschool (recently referred to as transitional kindergarten), before- and after-school programs, and stipend dispensation for in-family childcare. In short, we aim to remove the profit motive from the childcare industry by making childcare – an unambiguous necessity in the lives of working families – a public good.


The Approach


As socialist organizers, we believe that majoritarian working class power, cultivated through collective struggle, mutual commitment, and political development, is the only sustainable and reliable mechanism for long-term social and political change. While advocacy, education, and electoral representation all have their place and can sometimes seem like alternative routes to achieving select goals, none of these approaches in themselves place working people as the central agent of change, and none are viable long-term replacements for mass political power.


This campaign seeks to achieve its goal – to universalize childcare – by taking no shortcuts, and expending the time and effort to cultivate class consciousness and political power across Los Angeles County.


The Renewal


Part I of this resolution was passed overwhelmingly at the DSA-LA 2021 chapter convention in October 2021. That resolution (1) established the Childcare for All working group and (2) made the universal childcare demand a chapter priority. Since then, the Childcare for All campaign has achieved the following:

  1. Organized a Canvassing 101 training to train canvass captains and leaders across the chapter
    1. Of those who joined our canvassing 101 training, 50% had never been to an in-person DSA-LA meeting
  2. Organized canvasses across Los Angeles County in Palms, Burbank, Van Nuys, Koreatown, El Monte, and Alhambra, activating and mobilizing 50+ DSA-LA members.
    1. Created and shared a branch building guide with chapter leadership
    2. Canvasses have included repeat contact with community members who have indicated interest in learning more about the campaign and getting involved  
  3. Canvassed 2000+ doors and multiple parks, leading to 150+ conversations (in multiple languages) about struggles in providing childcare.
    1. Only 10% of parent respondents exclusively take their child to a childcare center, the cost of which is estimated by interviewees to be upwards of 50% of monthly income
    2. 83% of parent respondents rely on family for some or all of their childcare
    3. 10% of parent respondents stated that they received some support or subsidy to help pay for childcare
    4. Only 3% of parent respondents said they were satisfied or happy with their childcare arrangement
  4. Identified 49 interviewees who have voiced interest in taking part in the campaign, either in volunteering to canvas, coming to a community event, or sharing DSA-LA materials with fellow parents and/or childcare workers 
  5. Designed a six-part political education series with the Political Education committee that can be done in each branch in partnership with the branch organizing committee and C4A volunteers
  6. Identified 20 childcare workers and begun developing the Childcare Workers Circle with an inaugural meeting in July
  7. Discussed our campaign with national press, with our campaign and C4A working group co-chair being interviewed for and quoted in a 2022 Truthout article

In short, the Childcare for All campaign organizers seek to renew this campaign for the following reasons:

  1. Over the course of the past year, Childcare for All organizers have developed the infrastructure, the procedures, and the multilingual materials to advance the campaign and strengthen the branches through the campaign.
  2. This relatable, tangible demand is an opportunity to agitate for and have deeper conversations about socialism with fellow Angelenos and has proven its efficacy. The community survey and agitation model has allowed canvassers to have longer conversations at the door, repeat contact with people we have canvassed, and provides an opportunity to publicize our results in a meaningful way. 
  3. Recent electoral success by DSA-LA indicates that there is an audience for democratic socialist politics that can and should be activated and organized through the discussion of tangible, coherent policy demands.
  4. We now have a clearer opportunity to conduct research into potential funding mechanisms for this demand. Because we are conducting a community survey to determine the childcare needs of working Angelenos, we are now better positioned to begin research into the funding mechanisms for programs that working Angelenos need at both the city and county level.
  5. The newly-formed California DSA Federation presents an opportunity to learn from, strengthen, and share our campaign plans with other California chapters who are pursuing universal childcare and preschool in their own jurisdictions.

Component 1

Abridged Timeline

July – September 2022

  • Branch political education modules are shared with each DSA-LA branch. Branch organizing committees, in conjunction with C4A volunteers, put on these education events in each branch location to educate members and the public about various angles to the childcare issue.
  • The childcare worker labor circle meets in July, and continues on a monthly basis. Coordinators are identified and more workers are recruited through canvassing childcare centers, social media, and other strategic forms of outreach.
  • Tabling efforts in parks across LA County are used to share results of childcare survey, solicit more responses from working Angeleno parents, and recruit more volunteers for the effort. 
  • Results of the childcare survey are shared with endorsed and elected DSA-LA members running for office along with information gathered from the childcare worker circle. 
  • Research into funding mechanisms for universal childcare at the city and/or county levels continues.

October – November 2022

  • Tabling and family field days are continued throughout Los Angeles County. Interested parents are mapped and identified for potential recruitment.
  • Childcare worker circle continues to meet, with the potential aim of having a public demonstration planned. 
  • Childcare for All Working Group conducts a review of the number of contacts, volunteers, and DSA-LA members who have been recruited through the campaign.

December 2022

  • Survey results are shared with potential coalition partners (e.g. labor unions, parents groups) with the intention of identifying potential coalition partners to work with on a demand for universal childcare. 
  • Reach out to California DSA chapters working on childcare to build statewide infrastructure and support for universal childcare. 

January 2023 – March 2023

  • Family field days and childcare worker circles continue to be convened, with more data being collected for the childcare survey.
  • Organize demonstrations with coalition partners around demand for universal childcare, especially ahead of the International Working Women’s Day i.e. March 8th.

March 2023 – June 2023

  • Promote universal childcare as a demand at the May 2023 May Day March.
  • Provide overview and analysis of campaign work, including numbers of DSA-LA members activated, recruited, and developed for institutional memory and chapter development. 




Local Resources Required

Local resources needed include, but are not limited to: chapter’s monetary resources, members’ monetary resources, member mobilization and time, political capital, and production of materials. Monetary resources will go toward canvassing/tabling kits, meeting space/materials, community events, and other working group outreach efforts.


Component 2


“Undertake to exchange resources, build solidarity, and engage in campaigns with other DSA chapters regionally, and nationally.”

  • Given the success of Measure 26-214 in Multnomah County, establishing a tuition-free preschool program for 3-4 year olds by imposing an income tax on high-income households, and the passing of a Childcare For All resolution at DSA’s national convention this year, DSA chapters around the country are in the process of forming Childcare For All working groups with aims to pass legislation that finances public pre-k, nurseries and daycares. This resolution would commit our chapter to pursuing socialized childcare at the legislative level locally, but also allow us the opportunity to collaborate with other Childcare working groups throughout California on a potential statewide campaign.

“We will organize with ambitious and emancipatory ends in mind, such as raising the collective consciousness of all people’s struggles and normalizing guaranteed rights that have been denatured under capitalism, while seeking concrete material wins and outcomes at every opportunity.”

  • ​​This resolution prioritizes both the concrete material demand of passing legislation that finances public pre-k, nurseries, and daycares, as well as DSA-LA’s goal to build power and create more socialists. By embedding this work within the NSP branch formations, we can rally for these winnable legislative demands within our neighborhoods, using conversations around childcare to agitate our non-DSA working class neighbors, with the goal of bringing them into neighborhood groups to participate in political education and direct action. This work will additionally be overseen by a Childcare For All working group in conjunction with Steering Committee to provide direction and cohere our work on this campaign across all of our branches.

Component 3


Branch Organizing Committees

  • Support the goal of branch organizing committees to build organizers, recruit Angelenos, and activate and mobilize existing members on a neighborhood basis through conducting Childcare for All campaign operations.
  • Support the goal of deliberate public outreach and recruitment through canvassing and local popular education events. 

 

Labor Committee

  • Collaborate with the labor committee to create a base of childcare workers, volunteers, parents, educators, and organizers to conduct county-wide social investigation into workplaces of relevance to this campaign e.g. childcare centers, schools.
  • Advance the labor committee’s goal of developing stronger ties between DSA-LA and local unions across LA County through a strong universal childcare campaign. 
  • Make the argument for well-compensated, union childcare worker jobs being created as not only an issue of necessity, but also as part of a need for more ecologically friendly jobs. We see this resolution as an intuitive play to also connect with the Green New Deal for public schools campaign.

 

Political Education Committee

  • Collaborate with the political education committee to hold political education events regarding childcare, care-based play, local and statewide processes for proposing ballot measures, and other topics of importance to this campaign. These campaign efforts will serve the dual function of: (1) denaturalizing “common sense” hegemonic conceptualizations of childcare in the United States and (2) fleshing out a vision of a viable alternative.
  • Develop canvassing, tabling, and other outreach materials in partnership with the political education committee, which will serve the dual function of (1) supporting recruitment and organizing efforts for both the campaign and the chapter itself and (2) develop the ability of our membership to articulate a socialist vision for childcare in LA County. 

 

Electoral Committee

  • As noted in our background review, recent electoral success by DSA-LA has shown us that there is a constituency of Angelenos with interest in democratic socialist politics that can and should be activated and organized through discussion of coherent policy demands like universal childcare.
  • Childcare is a deeply felt working class need, one which the median Angeleno family pays a third of their paycheck towards fulfilling. Fighting for a universal program would bring more working people into our movement, advancing the goal of the electoral politics committee.