School of Social Work

No. 28 M.S.W. Program in the U.S.

VCU School of Social Work alum Allison Gilbreath (B.S.’11/GPA; M.S.W.’16/SW) participated in a White House roundtable on Feb. 22, representing Virginia parents and discussing child care and the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, social work alum Allison Gilbreath and her son, Perry seated at the White House
U.S. Health and. Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, social work alum Allison Gilbreath and her son, Perry, at the White House.

Gilbreath, whose then 3-year-old son, Perry, joined her, is the policy and programs director at Voices for Virginia’s Children.

Also participating in the session were U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Gender Policy Council Director Jennifer Klein and Deputy Assistant to the President for Economic Mobility Carmel Martin.

β€œThe experience of being in the White House seated next to Secretary Becerra was one of pure joy, but also made me sit in the reality that we have a long way to go to improve the lives of children by providing quality and affordable child care to families,” Gilbreath says of participating in the event. “I hope when my son is older that he looks back on the day he went to the White House with mommy and he knows that his mom was a part of the advocacy that changed the child care infrastructure, and how much I love him.”

Some excerpts:

  • When asked how her family affords child care, Gilbreath responded: “Child care is very expensive. Families, including ours, we pay more than $2,000 a month. That’s more than our mortgage, like a lot of families. We are fortunate that we’re in an income where we’re able to afford it, but it does make us make some difficult choices.”
  • Gilbreath emphasized the role of women, particularly women of color, in child care, and how they are too often underpaid. “My child care provider puts so much love into my son and the children in his child care settings, and they don’t make enough money. Every day I tell them, I would give you so much more that you deserve for the impact you’re making in my child’s life, but families can’t afford to pay more. But they (workers) absolutely deserve more.”
  • She went on to say that good child care is critical for her as a working mother. “For me it’s the ability to go to work and feel confident I can do what I feel like I was born to do. I feel like I was born to advocate for children and families. When I returned to work from maternity leave, and I was able to leave my child with a safe person who I knew didn’t just want to care for my children, but loved them, it made me more passionate about the work that I do, and I don’t feel that significant guilt that often comes with motherhood and a career that we love.”

Full video

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