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If you wanted to dig into the statistics behind women leaving the workforce due to a lack of affordable child care, you’d find a mountain of information. You could look state by state at the staggering percentage of income spent on child care. You could compare that with the number of care facilities that closed during the pandemic. If you’re currently a working parent, you’re likely feeling those numbers.
Harder to find are statistics behind the women who leave sport–their chosen profession–due to lack of support in motherhood.
In a move to keep women in professional athletics, Allyson Felix and the brand Athleta have announced a new child care initiative. The free child care program will begin at the 2022 U.S.A. Track and Field Outdoor Championships taking place in Eugene, Oregon starting Thursday June 23. The child care will be offered for the athletes competing, as well as coaches and staff through the organization Vivvi.
The program, developed in conjunction with the non-profit &Mother, is an extension of work Athleta and Felix started last year with the Power of She Fund–a grant program that Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) also has a hand in. The Fund offers female athletes $10,000 in child care resources for training and competition. Past track and field recipients include Gwendolyn Berry, Aliphine Tuliamuk, and Ayana Walker-Fletcher.
Felix, who is in her final season of competition, stated that she would focus on giving back before retirement. “As I reflect on the barriers that I faced when competing at the highest level alongside being a mother, I feel more committed than ever to leaving behind this legacy to ensure more women can both raise children and excel in their athletic careers,” says Felix.
Alysia Montaño, co-founder of &Mother is calling this a pilot program that other industries can use as a model. “Conversations with my peers in sports–including coaches, athletes, sports psychologists, nutritionists, physical therapists, and more who are mothers–brought to light that child care is not accessible in the way in which the sporting industry needed it to be. Our work is not an occupation that can be done from home, and we need to be able to access child care at sporting venues,” she says.
Felix, WSF, and Athleta have also announced the third round of the Power of She Fund. Athletes can apply until July 12. The grants can be used to offset the costs of care-related expenses including caregiver fees, meals, travel, and more.
The end goal is simply this: “No woman should have to choose between her career and her family,” says Kyle Andrew, chief brand officer at Athleta.