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This kitchen belongs to a white or East Asian American and middle-class mother who recently had a baby. It is riddled with evidence of the overwhelming amount of care work she does on a daily basis. Soon, her maternity leave will end. Luckily for her, she can afford to hire someone to clean her home and take care of her infant when she is at work. Unfortunately for the worker she hires, their wages will be poverty-level. In 2020, the average salary of childcare workers—92% of whom are women—was less than 1/3 of the national average. Even more unfortunately for these low-income workers, current parental leave policies are mostly useless to them. Research shows that low-paid and part-time workers are “less likely to have access to paid family leave,” while “women of color are less likely to have access to any form of paid leave, including parental leave.” Few people can afford to take unpaid leave from work. In practice, this means that the domestic worker who maintains this home while the middle-class parents go to work would not be able to take a parental leave herself. In short, race and class determine who gets the kind of parental leaves that allow them to take care of their own children, who can hire people for caregiving labor, and who is hired to do this labor. 

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