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Why childcare is broken in the U.S.—and how to fix it

November 2, 2022, 11:41 AM UTC
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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Emma here: Today’s guest essay comes from my colleague Megan Arnold, Fortune‘s director of video and the producer behind the new Fortune podcast examining America’s childcare crisis, Where’s My Village? Also, how one female-cofounded watercooler company survived the pandemic; and South Dakota governor and rising conservative star Kristi Noem faces an unexpectedly tough reelection.

Where’s my village? On Tuesday, New Mexico has the chance to make history. If voters approve a ballot measure, funding for early childhood education will be written into the state constitution.  

That’s something no other state has done.  

The money will come from a trust fund built from state oil and gas revenue, which is certainly an easier sell than raising taxes. But here’s a staggering fact: The ballot seems to have bipartisan support. 

While advocates in the state have pushed for this for years, a yes vote would have particular resonance now as the childcare sector continues to reel from the pandemic and a lack of financial support from the federal government.

At Fortune, we’ve chronicled how the childcare crisis hurts women and families—and affects businesses. Women were more likely than men to step back from work at the height of the pandemic to care for kids, and countless studies show that when women aren’t fully engaged in work, it drags down the entire economy

About a year ago, a small group of women here at Fortune decided we were tired of hearing the depressing stats around childcare, and we wanted to know who—if anyone—was working to fix the problem. It turns out that innovative solutions are coming from all corners: states and cities, but also from Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, and community groups. (A glaring omission from this list: the federal government, which at one point proposed spending as much as $400 billion on childcare through the Build Back Better Act. The final amount dedicated to childcare? Zero.)  

You can hear more about our findings in the new Where’s My Village? podcast. We hope you’ll listen and subscribe to this limited-run series. You’ll hear from longtime advocates like Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.); companies like Corning, which funds day-care centers not only for employees but for an entire New York town; and from VCs like Jess Lee at Sequoia Capital, who believes the childcare market is ripe for investment.

And who knows, after listening, you may feel inspired to wield your influence to improve childcare in the U.S. because, as we know, when it comes to raising kids, it truly takes a village. 

Listen and subscribe to Where’s My Village? here.

Megan Arnold
megan.arnold@fortune.com

MPW Next Gen The Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit will take place Nov. 15-16 at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego. There’s still time to nominate a woman from your organization to attend or apply to attend. Confirmed speakers include Olympic athlete and Saysh founder Allyson Felix, WeightWatchers CEO Sima Sistani, Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel L. Levine, Archewell president Mandana Dayani, Ancestry CEO Deb Liu, and more. 

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Paige McGlauflin. Subscribe here.

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

Saving the watercooler The pandemic almost permanently shut down Bevi, a cult-favorite water dispenser company for Silicon Valley. When office closures and, later, a shift to remote work dissolved watercooler moments, Bevi expanded into non-office spaces like gyms and apartment buildings. It’s now seeing usage creep up to pre-pandemic levels. Fortune

Twitter exits More Twitter execs have resigned following Elon Musk'’s acquisition of the company last week, including Sarah Personette, chief customer officer, and Dalana Brand, chief people and diversity officer. New York Times

Mink mess Danish voters headed to the polls on Tuesday for a special election Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called for in early October. Frederiksen, who led Denmark through the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian invasion of Ukraine, faced backlash for a government-ordered mass culling of minks last July—over concerns of a mutated virus—that destroyed the country’s mink industry. But she ultimately held on to her center-left coalition. BBC

Still booked Penguin Random House (which is now blocked from acquiring Simon & Schuster, by the way) is standing behind its deal to publish Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s upcoming book. The commitment came in response to an open letter with over 600 signatures asking the publisher to reconsider the deal following Barrett’s vote to overturn Roe v. Wade in June. Wall Street Journal

MOVERS AND SHAKERS Emma Chamberlain–owned coffee brand Chamberlain Coffee appointed former Red Bull and Carvana marketing leader Elizabeth Ahern as chief marketing officer. The National Women’s History Museum appointed Jamie CossAinsley MacLeanNancy O’Reilly, and Lucia Riddle to its board. Tenable has appointed Michelle VonderHaar, former HP deputy general counsel and assistant secretary, as chief legal officer and general counsel. Blockchain platform Rubix hired Sarah Merricks as chief marketing officer. Finance platform Alviere hired Christine Bottagaro as CMO.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Keeping track Researchers at Princeton University and the Anti-Defamation League are building the first-ever national database tracking threats and harassment against government officials. Baseline findings show women are targeted 3.4 times as often as men. Axios

Tougher than expected South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is a rising star in America’s conservative base. Yet her electoral standing in the state is on shaky ground. Polls show her fluctuating between a double-digit lead and running neck and neck against Democrat Jamie Smith. She’s now outspending Smith six to one on political ads. Vanity Fair

Abortion, overseas Online abortion pill orders placed through nonprofit Aid Access rose 120% in the two months following the overturn of Roe v. Wade, according to a new study. A new estimate, factoring in this stat, puts the nationwide drop in abortions at 2% during those two months, down from a previously reported 6%. New York Times

Leading change Mana Shim, a former U.S. Soccer player whose accounts of sexual abuse by her coach helped bring attention to misconduct in the sport, is joining the federation as chair of a newly formed player safety committee. New York Times

ON MY RADAR

For Gisele Barreto Fetterman, community will always come before politics Vogue

Julie Powell, food writer known for Julie & Julia, dies at 49 New York Times

The enduring sexism of India’s tech industry Rest of World

For GoldieBlox’s Debbie Sterling, animation is a family business Fast Company

PARTING WORDS

I was going to have to show people that I could do something different. I didn’t want to get pigeonholed.”

—Margot Robbie, actor and cofounder of female-focused production company LuckyChap Entertainment on breaking away from the blonde bombshell stereotype she portrayed in her breakout role

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