The Honorable Charles Sams
National Park Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 2024
February 12, 2024
Dear Director Sams,
I am writing on behalf of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (Coalition), an organization made up of more than 2,500 former, retired, and current National Park Service (NPS) employees and volunteers. Among our members are former NPS directors, regional directors, superintendents, resource specialists, park rangers, maintenance and administrative staff, and a full array of other former employees, volunteers, and supporters.
Many of our members have lived and worked in Yosemite National Park, and we are writing today with grave concerns regarding the imminent closure of the nonprofit Yosemite National Park Childcare Center that provides critical services for park and concession employees.
Closing the Center will place NPS employees in an impossible situation. Over 25 dual-career families at Yosemite rely on this childcare service, including first responders, law enforcement, firefighters, and program managers who provide essential services to the park. Due to the remote and rugged location of Yosemite National Park, the closest childcare alternatives are more than 45 minutes away. Forcing parents to commute at least three hours every day for safe and reliable childcare is not a sustainable situation. This decision will not only impact current employees, but it will also harm recruitment and retention at Yosemite National Park in the future.
We have supported the goals of your RISE initiative and applauded your efforts to improve the NPS work environment. Yet the decision to close the Yosemite Childcare Center stands counter to these goals. It will reduce already low employee morale and create yet another barrier to building a more diverse workforce. Last year, the NPS announced a seven-year initiative to focus efforts on hiring more women in law enforcement positions across the country. Yet removing access to childcare is more likely to harm female workers in particular, as women provide most of the caregiving in this country and are particularly impacted by a lack of safe, accessible, and affordable childcare.
We support the request of Yosemite National Park staff and ask that you give the Yosemite National Park Childcare Center executive director, board of directors, and Yosemite National Park leadership team the opportunity to continue to pursue state licensing to keep the Yosemite National Park Childcare Center operational. Closing this facility will have a profoundly negative effect on NPS operations and NPS employees, and we urge you to continue to support efforts that will improve employee morale and contribute to a more diverse NPS workforce.
Philip A. Francis Jr., Chair
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
Secretary Debra Haaland, Department of the Interior
Assistant Secretary Shannon Estenoz, Department of the Interior
Deputy Director Frank Lands, National Park Service