Season 4 | Episode 7
“Leadership is not for punks. You really have to be grounded and to be able to take the full responsibility. I take the full responsibility for my staff, for the financial security of our organization, for the support of 4,000 children and 1500 providers. … And so, you just have to be able to take a calculated risk and bet on yourself, and really that's what leadership is.”
Matt talks to Tamika Farr, CEO of Pathways LA, a nonprofit that supports the healthy development and school readiness of young children from disadvantaged communities.
The pair discuss the dual challenge of low-income families trying to afford childcare AND the inability for many childcare providers to make a living wage. They delve into the importance of negotiating a fair salary when starting a new job and the importance of fundraising when running a nonprofit. They remind listeners that childcare providers are not just babysitters, and that Guidestar can be used for more than just stalking other people’s salaries.
So, tell our listeners, please about Pathways LA and what you guys do and what sold you to talk to me to take the job.
Well, thank you for the opportunity. As Pathways LA, we provide subsidized childcare for our children in spa four, which spans from Eagle rock to west Hollywood. And we're able to, support families when children are as young as four months through even after high school, with some supplemental, , activities or whatnot.
So, we are just here to support children and the childcare providers. We wanna make sure that childcare providers are amplified because they're not babysitters. They're there to support children and to support families. They allow families to go out and have the pride, of earning and furthering their education to provide.
For their families academically, enhancing their families and, also bringing in additional revenue. So, working with the children, you have to engage with them socially, emotionally, academically, make sure they're ready for, school when they start kindergarten.
So, it's an extremely big responsibility. And our job at pathways is just to make sure that they're supported, make sure that they're amplified, that are elected officials have them as a priority when we're looking at funding opportunities and ways to impact the infrastructure of Los Angeles county. And also understanding that children who are in.
Childcare they do better than those who are not, when they go into school, they're ready. Academically and emotionally, they go on to graduate at higher rates. They go on to college at higher rates and they're higher learners. And so this also impacts the cycle of poverty. So, this is very proactive and everything that I do, I aim to be a proactive person.
So, to be affiliated with an organization where it has such a proactive approach to ending the cycle of poverty. It's just very important to me. So that's what we do every day, in a nutshell, but also looking at the whole family.
So, we do food distributions, back to school distributions, we promote health and wellness. So, we provide bikes and helmets to our children that keep them active and moving. So anytime we can identify a need for our family, we work to make sure that we are able to fill that.
So, what you guys do is spectacular.
And I wanna take a step back because I don't know if people really understand the importance of your organization, but also of organizations like yours and funding for your organization. So, when we look at all these signs for employees, right? People, can't find staff.
There are a lot of people out there who have kids and they can't afford childcare. And without childcare that can't leave their kids at home and they can't go to work. So, a lot of us, probably the majority of us who are listening to this show have a job and have kids and can afford it. But there's a lot of people who can't.
And so, can you tell us a little bit about that population? How many people are out there who can't afford to put their kids in childcare?
Right. You know, many of us and even, those of us who, you know, can't afford it. There's a wide range of childcare opportunities. You can have a nanny who comes in, who has a history of helping support families and is very encouraging and supportive.
And you can trust leaving your children with that nanny. There is, a neighbor who may be home and retired, who can, you know, chip in and help, raise your child. And so what you, and I say that raise your child because we are leaving our children with childcare providers for eight to 10 hours a day.
This is an extended part of your family. It's a very big responsibility. And so when finances come into the conversation, when you can identify what you would like for your child, and you cannot afford that, and you're putting your child in an environment that is not of quality and is not aiding in their growth, it's very disheartening.
And we all have to make decisions in our budget. And so many of us, when you say we can afford it, Who wants to pay $1,700 a month in childcare expenses, right? It's like think of the extracurricular activities, the vacations, the college fund, the, landscaping, all the things that we can do with that amount of money.
So, it impacts everyone. And so we have this long, care list of families that are waiting because they need assistance with, subsidizing childcare for their children. We have a care list now, quote unquote waiting list of 6,000 children. Wow. 6,000 that are 6,000 children who are in an environment, potentially that is not feeding into their growth, feeding into, developing them socially and emotionally and encouraging them.
So, it's just, you know, disheartening to know that, and we're doing the best that we can to engage the families that are on that waiting list. Even if we don't have the funding at this time to support them through subsidized care, we have our family engagement component where families can still log on and learn how to engage with their children, with activities and things in the household that are low cost.
We have stories that represent us that we have, elected officials come on and read stories to our children and to our families. And they get to ask questions about what things that are going on in their neighborhoods and their schools, things that they'd like to see different. So it's also an opportunity for them to be advocates for themselves.
I know this sounds cliche, but children are our future, right? And so when you look at a budget, it tells you where your priorities are. And so when we look at this most recent inflation reduction act that had nothing, absolutely $0, funneled towards childcare or increasing the rates that we are paying our childcare providers or subsidizing childcare,, it's just not a priority for our nation right now.
Learn More about Pathways LA.