The Appreciating Diversity Film Series returned to the Ellen Driscoll Playhouse Thursday, January 19, 2023, to screen the engaging and powerful documentary, Through the Night. The film was followed by a remarkable and informative talk and Q & A.
Through the Night, a NYT Critics Pick 2020 by Lori Limbal, showcases the multiplicity of “women’s work”—paid, underpaid, and unpaid—through a tender portrait of strength, love, and selflessness. This film is an intimate cinema verite portrait of working mothers whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center: a mother working the overnight shift as an essential worker at a pediatric hospital, another holding 3 jobs to support her family, and an inspirational woman delivering exemplary 24-hour care and education for over 2 decades.
Support for working mothers remains very limited across the country. The costs of daycare for a 3-year old rivals the cost of rent in most U.S. cities. Childcare providers themselves are often struggling in a mountain of expensive bureaucracy and minimum wages.
The audience warmly received the three speakers who followed the screening and presented both local and California state data regarding the status of childcare and early education. Kym Johnson, Director of the acclaimed East Bay childcare referral and family resources center, Bananas, summarized local childcare needs and new state bills bringing some increased and sorely needed funding to Oakland. Nancy Harvey and Tasha Jordan, both Oakland childcare providers, were also able to explain the hardworking, caring network of childcare/early education first line workers who support families, especially when no other support exists. Kym and Nancy announced that AB 378: Building a Better Early Care & Education Act, was signed by Governor Newsom and gives providers the right to form a union. Subsequently CCPU (Child Care Providers United) was formed and currently represents over 30,000 child care providers in California.
For more information about the history of childcare and how to get involved in a more just system, see the website from UC Berkeley’s Early Childhood History Organizing project here.