Posted by Jocelyn Moore
June 23, 2022
At Carina, equity is one of our core values, and to celebrate Pride Month, we interviewed Lani Todd, our Director of Strategic Initiatives, to share her story of being a gay parent and insights on finding child care that is LGBTQIA+ friendly.
Q: Tell us about your role at Carina.
A: I'm the Director of Strategic Initiatives. As a growing organization, that has meant different things over the past three years. What it means today is I lead on our child care work which we launched as a rapid response Covid project. I also support all of the non-tech program teams at Carina, so that's marketing, user support, and project management.
Q: Why do you think Carina considers the needs of the LGBTQIA+ communities when it comes to care?
A: One of Carina's overall goals is really to support marginalized communities that are seeking care or caregiving jobs, whether it's in-home care or child care that have been left out of current systems. And LGBTQIA+ community is definitely one of those marginalized communities. And it's Carina's role to meet those needs and make sure that people that the tools we create really work for everybody.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your family.
A: My family's awesome. My wife's name is Kelli. We've been together for 13 years. We have a five-year-old and a ten-month-old.
Q: What does LGBTQIA+ friendly mean to you when it comes to child care?
A: To my earlier point, especially in times like these where our community feels under attack, finding LGBTQIA+ friendly care for children feels more important than ever. And not just for the health of our families, but for the health of our whole communities.
And so what LGBTQIA+ family-friendly child care really means to me is that not only are we welcome and are treated with the same inclusivity and respect as other families but also that the program celebrates and talks about all the different ways to be a family. And that family can look gay, straight, one parent, two parents, lots of different ways, grandparents, everything. And so not just talking about families that look like ours, but families that look like all kinds of different families. So to me, inclusivity isn't about acceptance. It's about celebrating differences and also talking about how to be a full community and what it means to support marginalized communities and marginalized families in your community. I think the last part is also about adults modeling for the kids, everything from using pronouns to having the staff that reflects the diversity of families in that care.
Q: How was your experience searching for childcare?
A: The first time I was really, really lucky. I knew my family's childcare provider long before my first was even born. We were on her waitlist even before most people knew I was pregnant. Ever since then, it has been really hard. Carina's childcare service didn't exist when I was looking for care the last time and I felt like we were flying blind on top of all the normal concerns that parents had and the normal questions we have. We could never be sure when we walked in whether we were going to feel welcome or like we fit in. I had to rely mostly on Google searches or word of mouth, and it was really tough. I really wish Carina had existed back then.
Q: Do you have any tips or research resources that you'd want to share with other LGBTQIA+ families that are searching for childcare?
A: I'd say, first, use Carina if it's available in your area so that way you know that the providers you're seeing are available. It’s so frustrating when you find a provider you love and they're like, “Okay, see you in three years.” So the fact that if they're on Carina, you know that they're available really cuts down on the emotional toll that can come from finding childcare too.
And then I'd say, don't be afraid. On Carina, you get to message your provider before you move further down that line of communication. And don't be afraid when you first message them to ask about how their program embraces families like yours. With something as important as the people caring for your kids, that's eight to ten hours a day. My wife and I both have jobs that are full-time that we're really, really passionate about. That often means that our child care provider is spending a lot of time with our kids. So it's worth it to find the right thing and it's worth it to be really upfront in finding that right fit.
Everything's going to fit differently for different families. But just as an example, my wife just texted me a few minutes ago that at my daughter's preschool, they're doing a Pride parade right now and all the kids are dressing up and having a great time and celebrating Pride. So definitely worth taking the time. There are lots of providers out there that are way more than just LGBTQIA+ friendly. They're supportive, they're celebratory, and they are really a partner that can be a part of your community if you find the right fit.
Also, see below for a list of questions you can ask to find out if a provider is LGBTQIA+ friendly.