Every parent would put #FamilyFirst, if they could afford it

Adam LaRoche unexpectedly retired from the Chicago White Sox last week after a conflict with the team manager, who asked LaRoche to limit the amount of time his 14-year-old son Drake spends around the clubhouse.

Former Chicago White Sox
first baseman Adam Laroche

“I had to make a decision,” LaRoche said in a statement. “Do I choose my teammates and my career? Or do I choose my family? The decision was easy, but in no way was it a reflection of how I feel about my teammates, manager, general manager or the club’s owner Jerry Reinsdorf.”

Reading that statement, what parent doesn’t feel a pang of empathy for the impossible decision Roche had to make; feel themselves cheering him on for standing up to an employer that expects him to put the job above all else? But it’s a stand that most parents simply can’t afford to make.

The reality is that America’s workplace policies don’t work for families. Over the past few years, wages have flat-lined for most Americans, while they have seen their everyday costs steadily increase. For most families, a single income is not enough to get by. And with two parents working, child care is an absolute necessity.

If only families could afford it.

The average White Sox fan can expect to pay more than $12,000 a year for one infant in child care — more than tuition and fees at a public university. At the same time, most childcare workers earn barely above minimum wage and rarely get health insurance or other benefits through their employers. Many providers can’t afford child care for their own kids.

LaRoche decided to retire from professional baseball so he could spend time with his family. But for most working parents, early retirement is not an option. This isn’t a problem that families can solve on their own. Fortunately, the childcare crisis is gaining unprecedented national attention. Childcare workers have been at the forefront of the Fight for $15 movement, which includes access to quality, affordable childcare in its list of demands, alongside an increase in the minimum wage. An overwhelming majority of Americans — 88 percent — agree that child care should be within reach for working families.

By putting #FamilyFirst, LaRoche is bringing attention to a problem that every parent understands. Now, let’s all put #FamilyFirst by finding a national solution to America’s child care crisis.