Rhode Island Mayor Says He And His Wife Were Priced Out Of Day Care | WOSU Radio

Rhode Island Mayor Says He And His Wife Were Priced Out Of Day Care

Sep 12, 2019
Originally published on September 12, 2019 12:05 pm
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In some parts of this country, child care can cost as much as college tuition, which means some parents have to bring their kids to work from time to time. Among those parents is Jorge Elorza, the mayor of Providence, R.I. He told Noel King that he and his wife Stephanie were priced out of day care.

JORGE ELORZA: We were touring a child care center. And Stephanie and I were just looking at each other, falling in love with the place. And then they handed us the pamphlet with the cost, and it was over $350 a week. And we looked at each other, didn't say a word. And we both knew exactly what was going to happen. We literally drove from the day care center to my parents' house. That's his day care situation.

NOEL KING, BYLINE: Yeah, that's a struggle that a lot of parents have. You being a public figure, what are some of the more unusual events that you've taken Omar to?

ELORZA: I mean, I don't do it every day. I can't do it every day. But there's been a good range. So if I give a speech early in the morning, sometimes I bring him to that. But I've taken him to events such as political fundraisers (laughter). So as you go around, and you kind of shake everyone's hands, you know, I've done it a couple of times with him in my arms. He actually took his first steps here in my office. And had I not had him with me, I would have missed that moment.

KING: Some cities have rules where you can bring your child into work as long as they are under a certain age. Is Providence, the city, doing anything about this?

ELORZA: So we've adopted a number of pilot programs, and we're testing it out. So for example, I have an employee that she also has a new child, and we let her work from home on a given day each week. We've also led the way here in the state with extending paid family leave to our employees here in Providence.

KING: Does it get under your skin when people criticize you for bringing Omar places?

ELORZA: I actually haven't heard a single criticism of me. So for example, people have criticized that there's a double standard. And I think that's true. I think there is a double standard. And I think the conclusion there is not we should criticize the mayor. It's women shouldn't be criticized when they do it as well.

KING: I saw you quoted in a news story as saying that you would let your employees bring their own kids to work, quote, "in a pinch."

ELORZA: So it's been more than that, actually. And, you know, I have a little toy basket here and, you know, some toys for kids. So sometimes when...

KING: In the mayor's office?

ELORZA: Right in the mayor's office. That's right. And so sometimes when our employees, they bring their young kids in, they know that they can come and take the toy basket. But I'll tell you an interesting story. Just last Friday, I had a group of community members come in. And there was a woman with a 1-year-old child who had child care set up so that she can attend the meeting with me. That fell through at the last minute. And she told me that since she had heard that I bring my child into work and that I'm welcoming of kids here in City Hall, she felt comfortable bringing her 1-year-old child to the meeting with me.

KING: You know, I don't have kids myself. But I was talking to a colleague earlier who has a daughter who's a little over 2. And he said if you bring a 2-year-old into the office, you will not get anything done.

ELORZA: (Laughter).

KING: It will be chaos, right? The terrible 2s that sometimes stretch into the 3s and 4s. I just wonder - Omar is 14 months old. How long do you think you're going to be able to get away with this before it does become...

ELORZA: (Laughter).

KING: ...A distraction?

ELORZA: If it becomes untenable at some point, then we'll find another solution.

KING: Once he starts zooming around.

ELORZA: (Laughter).

KING: Jorge Elorza (laughter), mayor of Providence, R.I. Hey, thanks so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.

ELORZA: Thank you. You be well.

(SOUNDBITE OF NIHONI'S "AFTER SUN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.