US Rhode Island’s largest city Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has not been shy about bringing his baby to work, taken him to ribbon cuttings and held him on his lap while testifying at the Statehouse.
He always seen balancing the boy his side at news conferences and rolled him into a closed-door meeting with the governor in a stroller.
He has also installed a bassinet and toy box in his office at City Hall, which all have stirred uproar, and revived pressing questions about struggles of balancing a career and child care.
According to Associated Press, Elorza’s workday appearances with 1-year-old Omar set an example for how to juggle jobs and parenting at a time when many people are working long hours away from their children and paying skyrocketing costs for day care.
His detractors say Elorza is using the child as a prop and benefiting from a double standard that would make it impossible for a working mother to do what the mayor is doing.
“I do think that if a female elected official was doing the same thing, the amount of pushback that we would be getting would be huge,” said City Council President Sabina Matos, a fellow Democrat and mom with two school-aged children, adding: “People would say that we’re not capable of doing both jobs.”
According to AP report, Elorza is not the first politician to bring their child to work, as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last year attended a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly with her infant daughter , who was still young enough to be breastfeeding.
In Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser occasionally brings her daughter to events. Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth brought her 10-day-old baby to the Senate floor to cast a vote last year — but the chamber had to change its rules to allow it.
What’s new in Elorza’s case is a growing movement in the city to let parents bring their babies to work as an alternative to leaving infants at day care for long stretches while they’re still nursing.
The Parenting in the Workplace Institute, which helps develop and track baby-friendly policies, reported that at least 250 employers have baby programs, including government offices in more than half a dozen states such as Arizona , Washington and Vermont.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Elorza said bringing his child to work was a decision that he and his wife, Stephanie Gonzalez, made after assessing their busy, unpredictable schedules. He wants time with his son. And, he says, the cost of day care is too high for their budget.
He and Gonzalez, a law student, were floored by the $350 per week price tag for a day care they toured before Omar was born. “We can’t afford that,” said the mayor, whose annual salary is $118,000. “I don’t see how most families in our city can afford that.”